Pastor Steve Ellison
Oh, dear friend, what marvelous truths are contained in the Word of God! As we continue our journey through the Bible slowing down to contemplate the questions, that He who knows all, asks of His creatures, we come to Isaiah 33. Isaiah 33:18 proclaims and inquires, Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?” (NASU) We need to consider the context for these questions. Finding exact parameters for this passage is easier said than done. It seems to me that the basic context is the attack of the Assyrians on Hezekiah/Israel which pictures or illustrates the Kingdom of God advancing in the Church. There also seems to be an ultimate fulfillment pointed to in the end times. We would be wise to remind ourselves that the foremost purpose of prophecy is always for teaching the reader how to live in the reader’s current situation. The circumstances of the original hearer/reader must always be taken into account before later readers make application of any prophecy to their lives.
Enlarging the passage slightly gives some needed information, Isaiah 33:17-22, Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will behold a far-distant land. Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?” You will no longer see a fierce people, A people of unintelligible speech which no one comprehends, Of a stammering tongue which no one understands. Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an undisturbed habitation, A tent which will not be folded; Its stakes will never be pulled up, Nor any of its cords be torn apart. But there the majestic One, the Lord, will be for us A place of rivers and wide canals On which no boat with oars will go, And on which no mighty ship will pass — For the Lord is our judge, The Lord is our lawgiver, The Lord is our king; He will save us. (NASU) The mention of “the king” in verse seventeen is the middle one in a series. God’s people have failed to display His glory to the world because they have not trusted Him enough to obey Him. Thus, He is about to display His glory all on His own.
In Isaiah 32:1, God said “a king will reign righteously”. In 33:17, God said “you will see the King in His beauty.” In 33:22, God said, “The Lord is our king.” Surely, you noted the progression from “a king” to “the king” to “our king”. The immediate context is Hezekiah standing against the Assyrian invaders. The people of Israel were being encouraged to live in the sure and certain hope that God would keep His word and deliver them in this one particular instance of facing a cruel and powerful enemy bent on destroying them. The application for every succeeding generation of readers is that God is absolutely trustworthy and thus will do exactly what He says He will do. That may or may not be what we ask for, but it will always be what is best.
The larger context seems to point to the end times when a king, the king, our king will arrive and rescue His people from the evil, Satanic, world system that is bent on destroying God’s people in every place. This Messiah, who came as Prophet two thousand years ago, will return as King. He will display His glory in a way that He has not done before. So far, He has only given a glimpse of His Kingship. When He comes again, one had best be ready to meet Him with the proper reverence.