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Lowell Brueckner

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The Valley of Vision


The Western Wall in the valley of vision
Please let me remind you to have your Bible open, so that you can follow this study verse-by-verse. Thank you and may you be blessed, as you contemplate this chapter.
21. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 22

The valley of vision

“(I) will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell” (Neh.1:9). This is one example of the multiplied times, in which God tells of His selection of Jerusalem, as His special possession, over all the cities of the world. We have already learned of His descriptive language, in speaking of cities and lands. A few chapters back, He called Ethiopia, “the land of whirring wings” and just in the last chapter, He labeled Babylon, “the wilderness of the sea”. However, no other place on earth, besides Jerusalem, could be called “the valley of vision”. It is His own poetic title for this city of prophets.  It holds a bittersweet charm, because it introduces a portion, which is anything but charming.

“The valley of vision” brings to mind Psalm 125:2, “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.” (We have a Jewish boys’ choir singing this verse  on our Spanish blog…
Because it is surrounded by mountains, Jerusalem appears to be a valley.

From here, Isaiah himself had seen so much from the mind of the Lord, concerning so many cities and countries, but now the vision turns to the choice city itself. I say it is choice, because God has chosen it for Himself and it is choice, because of its many desirable traits, useful to God and His people. It is the only place in which sacrifices could or can be offered to Him. It is the Holy City, the beloved city.

In Jerusalem, prophets lived and declared the word of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, prophets died. Jesus said, “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). The statement was one of sad irony, because, not only Jesus, but many of the prophets, were rejected by their own people and in their own beloved capital, were put to death. His heart broke and He sobbed with anguish over its plight: “When he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, "Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

The time has come for the “valley of vision” to drink the bitter cup of judgment. They become the theme of the oracle. Isaiah is deeply involved and weeps, not for himself, but for the Jews. His grief is deep and he looks for solitude, in order to express it freely (v.4). He will live to see this prophecy fulfilled and once again, like a true prophet, he lives his burden. It is more acute now, because it concerns the daughter of his people and not a foreign power.


The population had gone to the flat housetops, where they habitually went for their devotions, and from which they could look into the distance to see if friend or enemy was approaching. It was a place to give vent to their emotions and their fears… a very useful part of the house (v.1).

They were typically a boisterous, exultant people and perhaps they had celebrated far too close to the time of their judgment. Instead of repentance and turning to God, they took lightly the signs of danger. There are multiple occasions, to which this burden refers, beginning with the soon-coming Assyrian invasion. Next, the Babylonians would come, then the successor of Alexander the Great, followed by Rome and finally the Antichrist. However, this portion particularly relates to Assyria.

William Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, “Cowards die a thousand deaths, but the brave only once.” That remark seems to fit the state of the leaders, who were contemporary with Isaiah. Sennacherib seized the cities of Judah (Is.36:1), abandoned by their leaders, who fled, instead of launching a defensive battle. Some were captured (v.3) and some were put to death. The defenders of Jerusalem are in a similar state. The mood is panic, subjugation and confusion.  

There was tremendous damage done throughout Judah by the Assyrians, and Jerusalem did not come out totally unscathed. There was immense fear within Jerusalem with cries that reached to the mountains (v.5). Elam (future Persia) was subject to Assyria and was aligned with them in battle. They were particularly skilled with the bow (Jer.49:35) and Kir, from Media, fought with them (v.6).

The most fertile lands around Jerusalem were occupied by Assyrian chariots. Their general, Rabshakeh, was close enough to speak to the people on the walls. Horseman stood at the gates guarding, so that nothing could enter or leave (v.7). The defenses of Judah and Jerusalem were broken down and the city was dependent on its arsenal in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, built by Solomon (1 Kgs.10:16,17).  

The Assyrians had managed to make breaks in the city walls, which Hezekiah had repaired and with his army officers, they cut off all the water supply outside the city (v.9, see 2 Chron.32:5). In this way, they also built up the water supply inside the city, in preparation for the siege. He also built a conduit between the walls (2 Kgs.20:20). In order to repair the wall, they calculated how many houses could be expendable inside the city and used for material (v.10).

What is God doing?

The problem behind all these preparations was that they did not denote faith in the God, who had chosen Jerusalem. The ancient Jebusites had confidence in the natural defenses of the city and thought it impossible for David’s army to take it. God chose it and turned it over to David and all future kings of Judah for that reason; besides it had a wonderful supply of water. Add to this, Jerusalem’s spiritual significance and history since the time of Melchizadek and Abraham in Genesis.

Taken up with all the use of the resources available, Judah had forgotten the purposes of God. This was His city, designed for His will, throughout the Old Testament, for the final fulfillment of the Passover and Firstfruits in the death and resurrection of His Christ, on to Pentecost, and right through the Thousand-year Reign upon the earth.

Friends, we get so taken up with our situation and our immediate problems, that we forget to pray, “Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come.” Unbelief steals our thoughts away from the fact that He sovereignly planned every detail, in which we become involved, for His own causes (v.11). Had Judah remembered His will, they would have been assured of His protection. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Ro.8:28). He never fails to take care of His own purposes and see to it that they come to pass.

The proper preparation, then, is serious, desperate prayer in keeping with the will of God. The prophets knew that something more was at stake than simply self-preservation. The greatest level of human concern is reached in our total devotion to bring Him glory. Weeping, wailing, shaving the head and the wearing of sackcloth… deep remorse… has everything to do with the challenge against God’s glory (v.12).

For His creation to take it lightly is an insult to His worthiness. The Jews are on red alert for their own survival and, more importantly, the God of Israel, disdained by the nations, is also despised by His own people. Hear the foolish cry of the human heart: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die” (v.13). Such a testimony to the callousness of fallen man bears quoting in the New Testament, and the apostle does so in 1 Corinthians 15:32. Man’s mind is only set on the things of earth. So it was in Noah’s day, and so it was in Lot’s… they were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage… right up to the end!

It is an unforgivable sin unto death… “Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you until you die”! (v.14). It is impenetrable hardness of heart that finds no place for repentance. It is “gaiety and gladness, killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine” in the face of death and eternity to follow. How then can there be forgiveness?

Shebna and Eliakim

I feel the anger of God, as He sends a personal message to Shebna, the steward in charge of the king’s household. Who would not tremble upon receiving such a word from the “Lord God of Hosts”, the Commander-in-chief of heaven’s armies and earth’s (v.15)? The appointments of men are worthless, if they are not also appointed by God. “What right do you have here…?” He demands to know. Shebna is caught in the act of building his own tomb, promoting his own honor, respect and remembrance after death, because of his man-given position (v.16). The Lord determines him unworthy of such a burying place.

“Behold the Lord is about to hurl you headlong, O man, and He is about to grasp you firmly and roll you tightly like a ball, to be cast into a vast country; there you will die and there your splendid chariots will be, you shame of your master’s house” (v.17,18). The pride of man provides for his own future and does not take into account the overruling will that comes from the Almighty. The one who lives shamefully, cannot expect to die with honors. God says, “I will pull you down…” (v.19).

“The wise will inherit glory: but fools get disgrace” (Pro.3:35). Is there anyone, who cares to contradict the man, to whom God gave the gift of wisdom? Here is the observation of a Psalmist: “For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another” (Ps.75:6,7). Let people say whatever they want about you and me. Grant them this privilege, since all their expectations come from this earthly life. Dear Lord of all, teach us to keep our eyes on you and look only for the glory that comes from You. This is a fitting introduction to the next portion.

God is now going to make His appointment; He has His servant in waiting, who can tell for how long, while Shebna reveled in a man-ordained position. The Lord knows Eliakim’s heart and can trust one that He has prepared in a humble place and by now has learned to patiently wait upon God (v.20). Notice, this is the position of a man, to whom God gives honor: 1) He will be properly attired. 2) He will be safe and secure. 3) He will be entrusted with spiritual authority (he will not be an authoritarian or a tyrant). 4) He will be considered a father. That will be the character of his position… a loving, compassionate elder… after the nature of God (v.21).

One of the two churches in Revelation, who went unrebuked by the Lord Jesus was Philadelphia. Here is what He said: “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens…” (Rev.3:7). It would be almost impossible to miss His reference to our next verse in Isaiah. “I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open” (v.22). Once again after His ascension and glorification, Jesus proves His doctrine is not His own, but the Father’s. The church with “a little power” and which has kept His word is granted “an open door”. What a rich example Isaiah brings to us here! Eliakim was a fore-type of Christ; Philadelphia followed in Christ’s footsteps.

Whether it involves an individual or a church, may the Lord grant to us the privilege of faithfully representing Him. Father, may Christ live within us with His attributes. Give us holiness, that is, set us totally apart for Yourself and cause us to walk in purity. Make us true, that is, faithful and genuine, without a hypocritical bone in our body. May we walk into doors that you open that we might thereby be involved in eternal things (v.22).

There is no let-down in verse 23… it only gets better. “I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father’s house.” The almighty hand of God will drive the peg in! You can be sure that this peg will stay in place, because it hangs on the power of the Omnipotent. The writer of Hebrews writes of a “great salvation”. Don’t cheapen it or weaken it by putting it into the hands of men. Peter infers that the peg is fastened to an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pt.1:4,5).

Verse 24 continues to define this God-given, Philadelphia position. You can hang any amount of weight on this peg; it will stay firmly in its place. The weight is what Paul called “a weight of glory” (2 Co.4:17) in the Father’s house in the land beyond compare. The Father hangs all the riches of His house upon it, "from the bowls to all the jars". There is only glory bye and bye, for the God-called Eliakims in the timelessness of eternity. His Father has placed him there, in the city that Abraham envisioned, the New Jerusalem, the city that God built.

At the end of the chapter, verse 25, the Lord refers again to Shebna. The man-appointed position is unstable and weak and, although it is driven in a firm place, it was not done by the hand of the Almighty. It will give way, it will break and fall. Whatever depends upon it will be disappointed. This is the word of the Lord, conveying to us the future of that which is placed by men and that which is God’s appointment.



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