Summary of passage: Chapter 17: An oracle warns Israel against allying itself with Damascus, saying Damascus will be ruined and Jerusalem will disappear. The glory of Jacob will disappear like fat from your body, leaving only a few to remain. In that day Israel will turn again to their Maker and not to false idols or the fruits of their labor but Aram will not and will hence suffer desolation. God will rebuke raging nations and they will flee before Him.
Chapter 18: Isaiah prophesizes against Cush (modern day Ethiopia or Sudan), saying much the same thing as for Damascus. The Lord will watch from above and remain quiet until His time to act when He will cut off the blooming harvests and leave all for the wild animals to prey upon. Only then it seems will Cush bring gifts to Mount Zion.
6a) Damascus will be in ruins, cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to the flocks who will lie down with no enemies. Jerusalem will disappear as will power from Damascus.
b) Israel’s glory fades like the fat of the body wastes away. The reaper will use his arm instead of tools to harvest, leaving some behind (the Remnant).
c) The men will look to their Maker and not to idols, false gods, or foreign altars or to the fruits of their labor. But Aram’s cities will be desolate because they did not turn to God and their harvest will be nothing.
d) No matter how fierce foreign nations are as soon as God decides their time is up, they will be gone, fleeing for their lives overnight.
e) God watches all and when the time is right (God’s timing) He will act. Just as things are at their highest (harvest time), He will take it all away and leave it to the animals. This reminds me of Matt Redman’s song “Blessed Be His Name”, which says “He gives and takes away,” derived from Job 1:21 which says, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” This passage is a powerful reminder of His sovereignty.
f) Ultimately, the nations will turn to the Lord and bring Him gifts.
7a) Lord Almighty, God of Israel, God your Savior, Holy One of Israel, the Rock, and Maker. These names emphasize how God is and should be everything. He is the Maker (the beginning), the Savior (from your sins), the Rock (in your hard times of life), Almighty (can do anything), and Holy (immutable). It deduces naturally that man-made idols are just that–from man who is sinful, imperfect, at times immoral, and dubious in nature.
b) Other people (celebrities), material things, or even pastors and the institution of churches. Idols are anything we humans put above and value more than God.
Conclusions: For such a straight-forward lesson (Turn to me or you will suffer type thing), there are a lot of truths here. God is and should be everything. He does events according to His timing. He gives and takes away at will. We are warned against false idols, which in our culture is not so much the Golden calf type thing but more so what the “fruits of our labor” produces such as material wants and desires or covetous natures. With the interconnectedness of the planet, we are bombarded with so many other things others have and we don’t that we must guard against putting these things above God.
Side Note: Incidentally, I do have Matt Redman’s song on my IPod because it’s a good reminder to me that He is the one who gives (not my husband’s job or other people) and He is the one who takes away (not others when bad things happen) because He is the one in control.
I also like being reminded of Job, the guy who lost everything as a test only (not for his own sins) and he passed with flying colors. It reminds me of how when I lost everything, God was still there and I could lose it all again and God would still be there. And that’s all that matters.