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Blog #3, Isaiah 14:3-23, What Does this Passage Mean?

The passage that I have been explaining in this blog series is Isaiah 14:3-23. In Blog #1, I explained who the author is, the date and occasion of his writing, the Biblical audience along with their historical and cultural context, and finally the literary context of the text itself. In Blog #2, I gave a verse-by-verse commentary of Isaiah 14:3-23 in light of the historical cultural and literal context given in blog #1.

In this blog, I will list the similarities between us and the original audience, as well as the differences between us and the original audience. When interpreting a biblical passage like Isaiah 14:3-23 it is important for us to understand the similarities that we share with the original audience and the differences that we have, because those difference form a hindrance when we attempt to go straight from meaning in their historical and cultural context to meaning in ours.1

As stated in Blog #1, the original audience is Judah during the reigns of the Kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Manasseh. Isaiah prophesied and wrote between 740 B.C. and at least 680 B.C. We know this, because Isaiah recorded the king of Assyria, Sennacherib’s death, which according to Mcdonald was in 681 B.C. Isaiah died during the wicked king of Judah, Manasseh’s reign.2

Similarities

· The original audience was watched over by One sovereign God who created all things, though many worshiped false gods. In 21st century American culture there is One sovereign God of the universe, yet people worship false gods.

· The original audience communicated with one another by language. Today we communicate with each other by language.

· The original audience had a cultural leadership structure. In 21st century America we have a cultural leadership structure.

· During the time that Isaiah wrote the people of Judah faced enemies from within and without. Today in 21st century America we face enemies from within and without.

· During the time that Isaiah wrote people got married and raised families. Today in 21st century America people get married and raise families.

· During Isaiah’s time families lost loved ones do to unexpected deaths. In 21st century American culture we lose loved ones to death.

· For the original audience, the basic needs for life were food, clothing and shelter. In 21st century American culture the basic needs for life are food, clothing and shelter.

Differences

· The biblical audience in Isaiah’s day spoke to one another in the Hebrew language. In 21st century America the primary language by which we communicate with one another is English.

· The original audience grew and raised the majority of what they ate. In 21st century America, for the majority of us, someone else grows our food, we go to a grocery store and buy it.

· During Isaiah’s day, they were under the Mosaic Covenant. In the 21st century American church we are under the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

· The original audience had a few books of the Bible (Pentateuch), but primarily heard from God via the prophets. Today we have the entire canon of scripture to hear what God is saying.

· During the days of Isaiah, they traveled by foot or used animals. In 21st century America we travel to and fro by motorized vehicles and air travel.

· During the days of Isaiah, the culture was taught by oral tradition. In 21st century America we are taught using written word and electronic audio-visual presentations.

· In Isaiah’s day, the biblical world was Palestine, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia and Tyre. (cf. Isa 13-23) In the 21st century, the world is a globe containing seven continents, vast oceans and very many nations.


[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A hands-On Approach to Reading, interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 42.

[2] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 938.



Bibliography

Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God's Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

McDonald, William. Believer's Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995.