Brace yourselves

Brace yourselves! So, are you the kind of person who wants to know exactly what sort of trying times are in front of you? Or, would you rather be surprised and ride that wave as best you can? Some predictions of mayhem are all about fear mongering. Maybe you’ll buy yourself some insurance. Some predictions are about truly trying to get others to change their course. Detour ahead. But some predictions are about preparing people to brace themselves. It is the pilot who warns of upcoming turbulance. It is the weather service warning of an approaching storm. Brace yourselves! Difficult times are rolling in.

There is a debate about where this oracle begins: 10:27b or 10:28. Many translate the verse as follows: “So it will be in that day, that his burden will be removed from your shoulders and his yoke from your neck, having been broken” (this part of the verse would then be attached with the previous oracle) – “He will go up to Pene-Yeshemon” (The word translated “yoke” can be a verb meaning something like to ascend or go up. This phrase will then be attached with verses 28-32). Pene-Yeshemon can mean “facing the wasteland or wilderness.” 1 Samuel 23:19 uses “Yeshemon” to describe a wilderness territory near the Dead Sea. The words can simply mean facing the wilderness. Christenson has located it near Gilgal which would fit the scenario. What Isaiah’s audience needed to know is that Assyria will go up against them.

Then they will come against Aiath, which is the same as Ai in Joshua 7 and 8. This is west and a little north of Gilgal and about eight miles north of Jerusalem. Anybody need a map yet? He will then pass over or through Migron, which is a few miles south of Aiath. Ah, he is advancing. He will deposit his baggage at Michmash, which was a little to one side. We see David doing this in 1 Samuel 17:22; 25:13; 30:24. From these passages we can understand that the “baggage” was heavier or extra equipment that may or may not be necessary for battle. I’m not sure what it would have been in David’s time. The word means “vessel, utensils, equipement.” But it was important enough to have two hundred men to remain with it as the rest go off to battle (1 Samuel 25:13). So, maybe extra weapons and armour. Possibly seige equipment in our text.

Geba was only a couple of miles southeast of Migron. After going through the pass, they will lodge in Geba for a time. The following names are not on the route of attack, but they are close enough to be in danger of foraging soldiers. Advancing armies often devastated towns and farms to provide food for her soldiers. Often they destroyed more than was needed in order to demoralize the enemy. Verses 30 and 31 are all about this fear. The word “cry aloud” has the idea of a shrill piercing cry. Gallim was north of Jerusalem and is mentioned in 1 Samuel 25:44. We do not know where Laisha was, but because of its mention here it was most likely also north of Jerusalem. The inhabitants are called upon to pay attention. Anathoth was three miles northeast of Jerusalem. She is called wretched, poor, afflicted because she also in danger. Madmenah – the name means “place of doing” – and Gebim – “the pits” – are unknown. All that we need to know is that they fled and sought refuge.

Assyria stands or stops at Nob. This is on a ridge and Jerusalem can be seen from here. In 1 Samuel 21:1 it is called a city of priests. Well, those priests are going to want to live close to Jerusalem. From here he waves his hand at the mountain of the daughter of Zion. Watts believes that verse 32 is Yahweh waving his hand as a sign of his pleasure. But again, there doesn’t seem to be any indicater in the text that would warrant the shift of subject. Maybe the idea is that Assyria can come that close but then will only be able to wave his hand at Jerusalem. It is the metaphor of the flood reaching the neck of the people (Isaiah 8:8. well, without the metaphor).

The goal of our passage is not to give an exact route. The goal is to tell the people to brace themselves. The enemy from the north is coming. And they will get close enough to wave their hand at the daughters of Zion; the people of God. Brace yourselves! Be prepared! When Peter told Jesus that they had left everything to follow him, Jesus let him know that they would be rewarded with a spiritual family and they will also be persecuted. YES! Brace yourselves! Following Jesus is not only about good times with good folks. It is that for sure. But there is turbulance out there and your path goes right through it. The message of Jesus has never been “follow me and nothing bad will ever happen to you.” Brace yourselves!