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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 21:13-17

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, February 1, 2008

A Prophecy Against Arabia

13 An oracle concerning Arabia:
You caravans of Dedanites,
     who camp in the thickets of Arabia,
14 bring water for the thirsty;
you who live in Tema,
     bring food for the fugitives.
15 They flee from the sword,
     from the drawn sword,
from the bent bow
     and from the heat of battle. (NIV)

In a play on words, Isaiah says “concerning Arabia,” but the identical letters would spell “at twilight.” The hour was late for “silent” Edom in the previous verses. Now “twilight” is falling on Arabia, too. Luther felt that the command to “bring water for the thirsty” was the prophet mocking these desert nomads.

Tema is a city (today Teyma) in northwestern Arabia—it is not the same as Teman, the home of Job’s friend, Eliphaz (Job 4:1, cp. Habakkuk 3:3), although the cities are not that distant from each other. In 715 BC, Sargon II attacked the Arab tribes living between Tema and the Gulf of Aqaba. Twelve years later, the Arabian tribesmen rebelled against Assyria and were destroyed.

16 This is what the Lord says to me: “Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the pomp of Kedar will come to an end.  17 The survivors of the bowmen, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.” The LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken. (NIV)

Who watches a clock more than a man who’s paid by the hour? That’s the same image as a “servant bound by contract” counting out the days in a year. Isaiah was saying that this would actually take place within a very short time. This was no distant prophecy.

But from another viewpoint, none of God’s prophecies are that far in the distance. Even the warnings about the end of the world affect us right now, today, with the way we act and react and the way we share the message of the saving gospel with the people who are with us right now. The message of Jesus Christ is for all ears, and all hearts, and the moment to share the message is this moment, right now. We have a Savior from our sins, and he has won for us eternal life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.