Isaiah 17-18

Talks for Growing Christians

Judgment on Syria and Ethiopia

Isaiah 17-18

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Lesson Number 18

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The Lord pronounced judgment against Syria.
  2. The Lord pronounced judgment against Ethiopia.

Practical Application

  1. Let God pick the time!


  1. Damascus was the capital of which country?
  2. Why is Ephraim mentioned in the judgment against Syria (17:3)?
  3. What is referred to by the phrase “in that day”?
  4. What was the political status of Ethiopia at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy? What was Ethiopia’s fate?
  5. Isaiah 18:7 contains what good news for Ethiopia?


  1. Syria
  2. Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel (also known as Ephraim after its largest tribe) formed an alliance together against Assyria. They tried to force the southern kingdom of Judah to join their alliance, to God’s displeasure. Assyria conquered Damascus in 732 BC and then Samaria, the capital of Israel in 722 BC.
  3. Isaiah uses this phrase to refer to the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord refers to anytime that the Lord intervenes in the affairs of nations. There is a historical aspect to the Day of the Lord and an eschatological or future aspect.
  4. Like many other nations the Ethiopians at that time were pursuing an anti-Assyrian policy. Their ambassadors came in seaworthy papyrus boats (18:2) to pressure King Hezekiah to join in rebellion against Assyria. The kingdom of Judah was to send a swift message to the Ethiopians that they wanted no part of an Ethiopian alliance, because Hezekiah was looking to the Lord for deliverance and not to military alliances. Ethiopia would be conquered by the Assyrians, but Judah would not, because they were looking to the Lord.
  5. This prophecy may have been partially fulfilled after Sennacherib’s defeat in the time of King Hezekiah, when Ethiopia may have brought gifts to Jerusalem. But we know that in the future millennial kingdom of our Lord, Ethiopia will be one of the nations bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Ethiopia will exist in the future.


  1. In Isaiah 17:7-8 the people of Syria and northern Israel were forced to recognize that the God of Israel whom they had forsaken was the true God, and the idols that they had worshipped were false gods. What “false gods” have you worshipped in the past? What happened to make you recognize your loyalty was misplaced?
  2. God promised that the Assyrian threat would come to an end, but it would be in His time. When have you felt like God was silently lingering in answering your prayers and fulfilling His promises? In hindsight, was His time better than your expectations?


  1. Judah was implored by other nations to join them in alliance against Assyria. God told Judah to wait on His timing. Think of a situation in your life right now where you are tempted to take matters into your own hands. Instead, will you allow God to do His work?

Key Verses

  • “In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy one of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands; he will not respect what his fingers have made, nor the wooden images, nor the incense altars.” Isaiah 17:7-8

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