An Oracle Against Damascus (Isaiah 17)

Scripture Text:

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Isaiah 17

1. What experience (if any) have you had with harvesting? What fascinates you about what grows in your garden and in the fields, and what retards or kill that growth?

2. Whereas the previous two prophecies were dated about 715 B. C., this one refers to events of 735 B. C. (when the norther kingdom of Israel was allied with Aram/Syria) against Assyria (see chapter 7). Comparing verses 1- 3 with 7:4 – 9, what will be the future of Damascus and Israel (Ephraim)?

3. What do verses 7, 8 and 10a imply about Israel’s spiritual condition during this time (see also 2 Kings 17:7 – 18)? Since Israel still worshiped the Lord (as well as other gods), what does mean to “have forgotten God” (verse 10a)?

4. Verses 10 and 11 refer to a pagan fertility rite whereby plants were force-bloomed in hopes of persuading the gods to bless the harvest. How will this practice backfire on Israel?

5. What does the farmer’s image of harvesting and gleaning (verses 4 – 6, 9 – 11) mean for the cities of Israel? What will be the result of this destruction?

6. What does sailor’s image (“raging sea”) and the desert image (“chaff” and “tumbleweed”) mean for the future of “many nations” (verses 12 – 14)? What does such imagery mean for the future of Israel?

7. Where else have you seen Israel’s powerful enemies so quickly cut down, as in verse 14? How is this depicted in 10:28-34 and 37:36, 37?

8. In this section, God is described as the Maker, the Holy One, the Rock and the Savior. Which of these aspects do you tend to forget? What leads you to do so? Instead, what do you find yourself trusting in? What practices can help you remember God and live out your life accordingly?

9. Compare verses 12 and 13 with Psalm 2:1 – 6. What truth about God emerges from these descriptions?

10. How might the story of Jesus calming the sea (Mark 4:35 – 41), together with the image of verse 13, affect you as you face a world full of confusion and tumult?

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