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19:20: " ..for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them."

This text first considers the prophet Isaiah as he describes the plight of the Black people in Egypt who were being opppressed by the Perisan government which had conquered them.

Isaiah, in one of many messianic prophecies addressed their immediate circumstance by noting that they would be delivered from their oppression by one called the "savior." But addressing future events, the prophecies projection of a great one, a savior, would not be revealed until a time much later in the future. Blacks in Egypt had once been oppressors themselves.

They held Israel in bondage for 400 years and were considered a world power. But the Persians were now the world power and among its captives was the nation of Israel, Egypt and many others. Isaiah's prophecy projected that a deliverer would come to set Israel and Egypt free in the short run, but a greater one would come later that would set the entirety of mankind free. As the world cried out for relief a young man named Alexander led Greek armies through the known world and defeated the Persians. He came to Egypt and set them free from Persian domination.

He was welcomed by the Egyptians and was called Alexander- "Soter" a Greek word which means, Savior, Deliverer, the Great one. Alexander set the Jews free and intermingled them into the Greek cities that he established. He gave them equal priveleges with the Greeks and he was revered. After his death, Ptolemy Soter carried on his polices and he too was called "soter" or savior, deliverer. The new found liberation and freedom the Jews enjoyed among the Greeks was abruptly ended when the kingdom established by Alexander was surplanted by the conquests of Rome.

Despite their attempts to win total freedom for themselves through the Maccabean revolts and other conflicts the Jews found themselves once again captives and oppressed. Their cry to God was that he would send them a "soter"- a savior, deliverer.

Chapter 22: 22

22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none shall shut and he shall shut and none shall open.

   This text deals with Shebna, the treasurer of Israel under King Hezekiah.  Shebna was the holder of the key of the King's treasures.  He decided what went in and what went out.  He was the budget director, financial secretary, and treasurer all rolled into one.

  The possession of the key to the vaults was a sign of the King's trust and favor in him.

  But Shebna began to be vain and conceited and boasted of his own successes and proceeded to try and immortalize himself.  The keys were taken from him and given to another.  A sure way to lose the use of keys is to be disobedient.  A sure way to draw the wrath of God is to be disobedient, full of pride and lead in a sinful life.

  God does believe in taking from them that misuse his blessings on their lives.  When certain servants were given talents and one servant did not use his talents the Lord commanded that the talents of those that worked little be given to those who reaped plenty of profit.

  Has God given you anything?  Are blessings flowing everyday?  Has he given you the key to a fruitful, prosperous and spirit rich life?  Yes he has...He gave you Jesus and reminded us all to "seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and all the other will be added."

  God gave us the key!  When we put Jesus First:

Chapter 38:17

38:17 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

This text focuses on King Hezekiah as he gives praises to God for both saving his life and saving his soul. There are three chapters in the book of Isaiah which generally focus on King Hezekiah. Hezekiah, whose name means, "whom Jehovah has strengthened" was the of Ahaz whom he succeeded on the throne of the kingdom of Judah. He reigned twenty-nine years.

He is generally referred to as a good king who followed the example of his great-granfather Uzziah. He was known for abolishing idolatry and beginning a great reformation in the kingdom of Judah. The full narrative of his activities as king is noted in 2 Kings Chapter 18. Isaiah makes references to it between chapters 30-39. As he fought enemies of Judah as King he also fought against personal sickness. In both instances God miraculous snatched him away from the jaws of defeat and death. His secular struggle was against the King of Assyria, Sennacherib. Sennacherib dealt treacherously with Hezekiah. He invaded his kingdom two times within two years. This invasion issued in the destruction of Sennacherib's army. Hezekiah prayed to God, and in a surprise move, "that night the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men." Sennacherib fled with the shattered remnant of his forces to Nineveh.

Hezekiah had not expected such an overwhelming victory. He had prayed but never expected so great a result. His physical struggle was against a sickness. Scholars have studied verse 21 and others and have concluded that he was either afflicted with a serious ulcer or boils, the point of death. Hezekiah prayed to God, after receiving word from the prophet Isaiah that God had numbered his days. (38:1). Isaiah's words were a sure indication of approaching death, yet Hezekiah "turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord." (38:2). He appealed to the Lord to consider his witness before God. In a miraculous turn around God decided to add 15 more years to his life. Hezekiah praised God for his surprise blessing in dealing with Assyria.

He praised him for his surprise blessing in healing him from his sickness. In verse 17, he praises God for taking his sins and shortcomings and hiding them behind his back. He praises God for salvation. Hezekiah was such a good man however, that he trusted men like he trusted God. The 39thchapter, in what is called Hezekiah's folly, details how he invited his enemies into his treasury and showed them all of his wealth, exposed all of his defenses to them and trusted them with secret information. Behind his back, his enemies plotted to take away his kingdom and his riches. The idea that God forgets past sin and hides them behind his back is familiar in scripture. Isaiah 43:25 says, "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins." Psalm 85:2 says, "Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin." Jeremiah 31:34 say, " .... for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Hezekiah offered praise to God for surprising him with great blessings that were hidden from him behind God's back.

The truth that God often works in mysterious ways to reward and defend the faithful is supported in the word of God. It is the substance of David's conclusion in Psalm 37:25 "I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." Psalm 31:19 says "Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men" Paul writing to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 2:9 said, "..eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

Thus Hezekiah praised God for what was behind his back, both blessings and forgiven sins and shortcomings.

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