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This chapter may refer to Jerusalem’s deliverance recorded in Isaiah 36 and 37. Isaiah was distressed because, although great devastation was prophesied, Jerusalem was celebrating, not mourning. People had reinforced walls and built water reservoirs to prepare for war, but had not turned to God for help (verse 11). Israelites at that time had a certain cockiness about the city, believing that God would never allow it to fall into enemy hands.
1. When have you felt like crying even though everyone around you was partying?
2. What might prompt you to tear your hair out?
3. In your planning, are you near-sighted or far-sighted? Telescopic or microscopic? When have you failed to see what lay ahead because you kept looking down?
4. In light of Judah’s searing for worldly allies while rejecting God, what is the irony of how Isaiah addresses Jerusalem (verses 1, 8b – 11)?
5. Judging from verses 2, 3, and 6 – 8a, what do you think had happened or would soon happen to Jerusalem? How would you describe the quality of leadership Jerusalem had?
6. How would the people respond to the threat of enemy attack (verses 8b – 11)? Note: The Palace of the Forest was an armory in Jerusalem constructed of fine woods. What is wrong with such stock-piling for war?
7. With danger around them, why their “eat, drink and be merry” attitude (verse 13)? What does such revelry show about their trust in God? Their hope for the future? Their inner character? Why are they no different that the people of Babylon (Isaiah 21:5)?
8. How would their attitudes and actions be different if they had responded as God desired (verse 12)? What does God’s final word on the matter indicate about the depth of their hardheartedness? How does their hardheartedness illustrate the dynamics foreseen in Isaiah 6:9 – 13?
9. What is the shameful example of what Isaiah had been denouncing in verses 1 – 14 (verses 15 – 25)? In view of impending national disaster, what is Shebna, the steward (a high administrative position in government), preoccupied with? How will God deal with such egocentric leadership?
10. Eliakim had replaced Shebna as steward at least by the time of the Assyrian invasions of 701 B. C. (see chapter 36:3). How does his qualities contrast with those of Shebna? In spite of his good leadership, what will ultimately happen?
11. What evil regimes in today’s world seem ripe for judgment? Would you weep over their callousness (as Isaiah did in verse 4)? Or would you inwardly cheer that they finally “got what was coming to them”? Why? What does your answer reveal about you?
12. When have you experienced such stress that your response was like that of the people in verses 8b – 11? What would it mean for you to look to God instead? What could help you develop that trust?
13. Consider how popular music, movies and politicians react to threats of nuclear war, terrorism, economic meltdowns, political instability and an uncertain future. Where do you see the revelry (verse 13) reflected in those signs of the times?
14. In reference to Question #13, consider your own response to such stressful issues. Are you any less cynical? Less apathetic? Are you more prayerful? Or pro-active? Why do you respond as you do?
15. What leadership positions (at home, at work, within the church or community) do you have? When (if ever) have you acted like a Shebna in that position? If Isaiah spoke to you (as you were busy glorifying your name), how would you react? How can you be more like an Eliakim?