This is the word the Lord has spoken against him: “Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. And you have said, ‘With my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains, the utmost heights of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the choicest of its junipers. I have reached its remotest heights, the finest of its forests. I have dug wells in foreign lands and drunk the water there. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.’ “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up. – Isaiah 37:22-27
This post recounts virtually word for word text from 2 Kings 19:20-24. I reflected on that passage back in January in a post entitled indictments. I was unaware of the extent of repetition in Isaiah. I have done a little research into this and it seems these parts of Isaiah and Kings (2 Kings 18-20 and Isaiah 36-39) are recounting the same period of history and are virtually identical. Some have suggested this supports the contention that Isaiah was the author of both 2 Kings and the book that bears his name. Others have suggested that both accounts accessed some other common source. This is out of my area of expertise so I will leave it to the biblical scholars to sort out.
The new testament definitely has many parallel stories in the synoptic gospels, Perhaps the purpose is the same in both cases. My sense is that repetition in the Gospels serves several purposes it: 1) emphasizes important stories in Jesus’ life; 2) provides accounts of a story from different author’s perspectives; and 3) lends credence to the historical authenticity of the event.
The event being described in this passage is clearly important in the life of the people of Israel. The final few sentences sums up God’s perspective for those like the King of Assyria who would oppose the people of Israel and God: “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up.”
The message is pretty clear for people like the King of Assyria. God accomplished these things. The humans involved, even kings and leaders, are merely accomplishing something that God’s plan intended. The people of Israel were actually opposing God’s plan for them by not responding to His call. Those who oppose God’s plan may succeed for a time, but in the end God wins.
There is a lesson here about opposing God. It is not such a good idea. If we choose to do so we will be like “grass sprouting on a roof”. We may think we are growing fast and strong apart from God, but unless we are able to sink our roots deeply into the One River we will be scorched and dry up.
Prayer: God help us to sink our roots deeply into You so that we can avoid drying up when life gets hard.