ch. 18




general excitement caused by the advance of Assyria, Ethiopia also is

stirred, and stirred to its furthest limits. The king sends messengers in beats

upon the canals and rivers to summon his troops to his standard (vs. 1-2).

The earth stands agaze to see the result of the approaching collision

(v. 3); but God rests calmly in heaven while events are ripening (vs. 4-5).

When the time comes He will strike the blow — Assyria will be given to

the fowls of the air and the beasts of the field (v. 6). Then Ethiopia will

make an act of homage to Jehovah by the sending of a present to Jerusalem

(v. 7). The time seems to be that immediately preceding the great

invasion of Sennacherib (about B.C. 700), when Shabatok the Ethiopian

was King of Egypt, and Tirhakah (Tahark) either Crown Prince under him,

or more probably Lord Paramount of Egypt over him, and reigning at



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v. 1 – “Woe to the land shadowing with wings” – literally, either

            the land of the shadow of wings or the land of the noise of

            wings – allusison is thought to be made to the swarms of

            buzzing flies, especially, the tsetse, with which Eithopia

            abounds – “which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia


Another possibility is that a missionary to Ethiopia told J. Vernon

McGee that the country is noted for its birds – “a land of wings”.


v. 3 – “All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth,

            see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains;

            and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye”


J. Vernon McGee – Many student of the Word consider the “ensign”

mentioned here to be the ark of the tabernacle, which was later

transferred to the temple.  It disappeared at the time of the

Babylonian captivity, and there is a tradition which says it was

carried to Ethiopia.  I have been told that there is a church in that

land that claims to have the ark.  I don’t know if is true or not, but

an ensign will come out of that land.




v. 4 – “I will take my rest and consider in my dwelling place”

            or, I will be still and look on. The rest of God is contrasted with

            the bustle and hurry of the Ethiopians and Assyrians. God “sits

            in His holy seat,” calm and tranquil, knowing what the result is

            about to be, and when it will be; He waits while the influences of

            heat and moisture, sunshine and dew — His own agencies — ripen

            Assyria’s schemes, impassive, taking no part. Then, suddenly, He

            takes the part described in the latter portion of ver. 5, “cuts off the

            shoots and hews down the branches.”


v. 6 – “They shall be left together unto the fowls” - At length imagery

is dropped. The vine is shown to be an army, slaughtered all “together,”

and left a prey to kites and vultures, jackals and hyaenas. “Shall summer...

shall winter”.  They will furnish food to the beasts and birds of prey for the

remainder of the year.


v. 7 – “In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of

            hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people

            terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out

            and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled,

            to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion


McGee again – This is evidently a reference to the time when the

kingdom of Christ will be established on this earth and the Ethiopians

will come again to Jerusalem to worship.  There is no judgment

spoken against them.  In Psalm 87:4, evidently in reply to what he

is doing in Jerusalem, the Ethiopian answers that “he was born

there.  God has wonderful things to say about Ethiopian.


Who knows the influence that the Ethiopian eunuch’s conversion

to Christ had on that country in the Christian ers? – Acts 8:26-40



                                    ADDITIONAL THOUGTS


vs. 1-4 -  The Contrast of Divine Calm with Human Bustle, Hurry,

and Excitement.

When men take a matter in hand wherein they feel an interest, and set

themselves either to carry out a certain design of their own, or to frustrate

the designs of others, nothing is more remarkable than (if we may use a

vulgarism) the “fuss” that they make about it. Heaven and earth are moved,

so to speak, for the accomplishment of the desired end; the entire nation is

excited, stirred, thrilled to its lowest depths; a universal eagerness prevails;

all is noise, clamor, haste, bustle, tumult, whirl, confusion. Assyria’s

“noise” is compared (Isaiah 17:12) to the roar of the sea, and the

rushing of mighty waters. Ethiopia’s stir is like the sound of many wings

(Isaiah 18:1). Even Cyrus, though he has a Divine mission, cannot set

about it without “the noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a

great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered

together” (Isaiah 13:4). It is in vain that men are told to “stand still and

see the salvation of God” (Exodus 14:13), or admonished that “in

quietness and confidence should be their strength” (Isaiah 30:15); they

cannot bring themselves to act on the advice tendered. Great minds indeed

are comparatively quiet and tranquil; but even they are liable upon occasion

to be swept away by the prevailing wave of excited feeling, and dragged, as

it were, from their moorings into a turbid ocean. And the mass of mankind

is wholly without calm or stability. It trembles, flutters, rushes hither and

thither, mistakes activity for energy, and “fussiness” for the power of

achievement. This condition of things results from three weaknesses in



  • His want of patience.
  • His want of confidence in himself.
  • His want of confidence in God.



I. MAN’S WANT OF PATIENCE. Man desires to obtain whatever end he

sets himself at once. The boy is impatient to be grown up, the private

would at once be a general, the clerk a partner, the student a professor of

his science. Men “make haste to be rich” (Proverbs 28:20), and

overshoot the mark, and fall hack into poverty. They strive to become

world-famous when they are mere tyros, and put forth ambitious writings

which only show their ignorance. They fail to recognize the force of the

proverb, that “everything comes to those who wait.” To toil long, to

persevere, to make a small advance day after day — this seems to them a

poor thing, an unsatisfactory mode of procedure. They would reach the

end per saltum, “by a bound.” Hence their haste. Too often “most haste is

worst speed” “Vaulting ambition cloth o’er leap itself, and falls on the

other side.”



himself can afford to wait. He knows that he will succeed in the end; what

matters whether a little sooner or a little later? But the bulk of men are not

sure of themselves; they misdoubt their powers, capacities, perseverance,

steadiness, reserve fund of energy. Hence their spasmodic efforts, hurried

movements, violent agitations, frantic rushings hither and thither. If they do

not gain their end at once, they despair of ever attaining it. They are

conscious of infinite weakness in themselves, and feel that they cannot tell

what a day may bring forth in the way of defeat and disappointment. They

say that it is necessary to strike while the iron is hot; but their real reason

for haste is that they question whether their ability to strike will not have

passed away if they delay ever so little.



God is on his side has no need to disquiet himself. He will not fear the

powers of darkness; he will not be afraid of what flesh can do unto him.

But comparatively few men have this feeling. Either they put the thoughts

of God altogether away from them, or they view Him as an enemy, or they

misdoubt, at any rate, His sympathy with themselves. Mostly they feel that

they do not deserve His sympathy. They cannot “rest in the Lord,” and

they cannot find rest outside of Him. Hence they remain in perpetual

disturbance and unrest. Strangely in contrast with man’s unquiet is God’s

immovable calm and unruffled tranquility. “The Lord said, I will take my

rest” (v. 4).  None can really resist His will, and hence he has no need to

trouble himself if resistance is attempted. “The fierceness of man” will

always “turn to His praise.” Time is no object with Him who is above time,

“whose goings have been from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2). In silence

and calm He accomplishes His everlasting purposes. Himself at rest in the

still depths of His unchangeable nature, it is He alone who can give His

creatures rest. As they grow more like to Him, they will grow more and

more tranquil, until the time comes when they will enter finally into that

rest which “remaineth for His people” (Hebrews 4:9).