Isaiah 23:14: “Wail, you ships of Tarshish! / For your strength is laid waste.”

February 12th, 2018 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Over the last 10 chapters, Isaiah recorded the coming judgment of God against Israel’s various neighbors. In this section, the final judgment is against the principal city of Phoenicia (Tarshish), whose ships were famous in the Mediterranean world. They were a pagan, idols-worshipping nation that practiced human sacrifice to their god Baal. King Ahab and his wife Jezebel had brought priests of Baal into Israel, resulting in the dramatic confrontation on Mount Caramel with the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18). Here in Isaiah 23, God was warning Phoenicia to repent. They refused and history records that they were overrun by Assyria in 738 BC, and then completely destroyed in 332 BC by Alexander the Great.

God pointed out again and again to His people, the foolishness of placing their hope in idol-worshiping, pagan nations that were doomed to fall, rather than in Him, the only true God. They took their eyes off their Savior, and become consumed with the circumstances of life that surrounded them. We often do the same thing. We panic and start looking for another source of help because we don’t think God is going to come through. Might we simply be guilty of the sins of not trusting God and having an extreme lack of patience?

More than 100 years ago, Scottish pastor George Macdonald offered this advice to believers:

Learn these two things: Never be discouraged because good things get on so slowly here; and never fail daily to do that good which lies next to your hand. Do not be in a hurry, but be diligent. Enter into the sublime patience of the Lord. Be charitable in view of it. God can afford to wait; why cannot we, since we have Him to fall back upon? Let patience have her perfect work and bring forth her celestial fruits. Trust to God to weave your little thread into a web, though the patterns show it not yet.

“LORD, we struggle to trust You, often turning our eyes from You to our circumstances, so that all we can see are our problems. Please help us today to escape our unbelief and rely fully on You.”