Isaiah 25 – Praise the Lord & Petra

I guess not very many people believe in You because yesterday when we were talking Jesus said that most people won’t make it to heaven:  

Al-Khazneh
Al-Khazneh (“The Treasury”) is one of the most elaborate temples in the ancient Arab Nabatean Kingdom city of Petra. As with most of the other buildings in this ancient town, including the Monastery (Arabic: Ad Deir), this structure was carved out of a sandstone rock face.

The structure is believed to have been the mausoleum of the Nabatean King Aretas IV in the 1st century AD. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in both Jordan and the region. It became to be known as “Al-Khazneh”, or The Treasury, in the early 19th century by the area’s Bedouins as they had believed it contained treasures.

History
Al-Khazneh was originally built as a mausoleum and crypt at the beginning of the 1st century AD during the reign of Aretas IV Philopatris. Its Arabic name Treasury derives from one legend that bandits or pirates hid their loot in a stone urn high on the second level. Significant damage from bullets can be seen on the urn. Local lore attributes this to Bedouins, who are said to have shot at the urn in the early 20th century, in hopes of breaking it open and spilling out the “treasure”—but the decorative urn is in fact solid sandstone. Another legend is that it functioned as a treasury of the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of Moses (Khaznet Far’oun).

Many of the building’s architectural details have eroded away during the two thousand years since it was carved and sculpted from the cliff. The sculptures are thought to be those of various mythological figures associated with the afterlife. On top are figures of four eagles that would carry away the souls. The figures on the upper level are dancing Amazons with double-axes. The entrance is flanked by statues of the twins Castor and Pollux who lived partly on Olympus and partly in the underworld.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in therat:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find i”t (Matt 7:13-14).

So what do people have to do in order to be with You?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Matt 3:16).

Wow, that’s it?  Don’t we have to do some type of work or something?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

That’s great, so what happens to those that don’t believe or worship someone or something besides you?

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).

Is that where the devil is going to go?

“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.  

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:10 & 15).

That’s scary.  The Catholics talk about this place called Purgatory, can you explain that to me tomorrow?

1 O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

25:1-5 – a song of praise celebrating the deliverance brought about by the judgments of chapter 24 (see 24:14-16; see also chapter 12).

“Counsels of old” – see 143:24, 26-27, 23:8-9.

2 For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defensed city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.

“City a ruin” – see 24:10 and note.

“Never be built” – cf 24:20.

3 Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.

“Strong people…terrible nations” – Such as Egypt and Assyria (see 19:18-25 and notes).

“Glorify thee…fear thee” – see 24:15.

4 For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.

“Strength…strength…refuge…shadow” – see 4:5-6 and note; cf 32:2.

5 Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.

“Branch of the terrible ones…brought low” – Hebrew reads “songs” instead of “branch.”  God will put an end to the celebrations of the wicked.

6  And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.

The eschatological feast of God.

“Feast of fat things” – rich food is symbolic of great spiritual blessings (see 55:2).  A feast is associated with a coronation (1 Kgs 1:25) or wedding (Jdg 14:10); cf the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).

“Wines on the lees” – The best wine – aged by being left on its dregs (see Jer 48:11; Zeph 1:12).

7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.

Castor and Pollux
Castor and Pollux (or in Greek, Polydeuces) were twin half-brothers in Greek and Roman mythology, known together as the Dioscuri.

Their mother was Leda, but they had different fathers; Castor was the mortal son of Tyndareus, the king of Sparta, while Pollux was the divine son of Zeus, who seduced Leda in the guise of a swan. Though accounts of their birth are varied, they are sometimes said to have been born from an egg, along with their twin sisters Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra.

In Latin the twins are also known as the Gemini (literally “twins”) or Castores, as well as the Tyndaridae or Tyndarids. When Castor was killed, Pollux asked Zeus to let him share his own immortality with his twin to keep them together, and they were transformed into the constellation Gemini. The pair were regarded as the patrons of sailors, to whom they appeared as St. Elmo’s fire. They were also associated with horsemanship, due to the idea that they rode the ‘white horses’ of foam that were formed by curling ocean waves.

“Covering…veil” – used to cover faces in mourning in any event, the associations are with death.

8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Quoted in part in 1 Cor 15:54.

“Swallow up death” – death, the great swallower (see Ps 49:14), will be swallowed up.

“Lord God” – see 7:7, 28:16, 30:15, 40:10, 49:22, 52:4, 61:11, 65:13.

“Rebuke…take away” – see 54:4.

9  And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

10 For in this mountain shall the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down under him, even as straw is trodden down for the dunghill.

“Moab” – symbolic of all the enemies of God like Edom in 34:5-17.  See note on 15:1.

11 And he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hands to swim: and he shall bring down their pride together with the spoils of their hands.

12 And the fortress of the high fort of thy walls shall he bring down, lay low, and bring to the ground, even to the dust.

Petra

Petra is probably one of the most beautiful, and most unforgettable places one will ever visit.  It is located about 50 miles south of the Dead Sea in the territory of ancient Edom.

The distance from Amman or Jerusalem depends on the route you take.  The Desert Highway, which connects Amman with Aqaba, is much faster, but the old Kings Highway is much more scenic.

This gorge and the temple at the end of it (the Kazneh) were popularized in American culture in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Knowledge of Petra was lost to the Western world until John Lewis Burckhardt tricked his Bedouin guides into leading him there in 1812.

Of the 800 carved tombs in Petra, the Kazneh is the most famous.  Its name Kazneh means “treasure” and comes from the Bedouin belief that the Pharaoh chasing the Israelites hid his treasure in the urn at the top of the Kazneh.  

Tomb facades were built from the top down.  Scaffolding was built and then grooves were carved into the rock. Into these grooves were inserted pieces of wood, which when made wet, expanded and cracked the rock.

There are many ways to get into Petra, but none of them are easy, and if the valleys are sealed, it is almost impossible for anyone to enter.  The main entrance to Petra is called the Siq; it has sides as high as 200 m (650 ft). 

The Siq
Petra was chosen as the capital of the Nabateans because it was located in a valley surrounded by sandstone mountains. There are many ways to get into Petra, but none of them are easy, and if the valleys are sealed, it is almost impossible for anyone to enter.

The main entrance to Petra is called the Siq; it has sides as high as 200 m (650 ft). This gorge and the temple at the end of it (the Kazneh) were popularized in American culture in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Knowledge of Petra was lost to the Western world until John Lewis Burckhardt tricked his Bedouin guides into leading him there in 1812.

Petra is the Greek word for rock, and is likely to be identified as the biblical Sela, which also means rock (2 Kgs 14:7; 2 Chr. 25:11-12; Isa. 16:1; 42:11; Jer. 49:16).  This region was also known as Mount Seir.  

The ancient city is located in the basin of Wadi Musa at an elevation of about 2700 feet, and must be reached by foot or horseback through the Siq (Arabic for pass).

Main Street – As many as 30,000 people may have lived in Petra during the 1st century AD. It is a misconception that Petra was a city only for the dead.  A large earthquake in AD 363 destroyed at least half of the city.  Petra never recovered from this destruction.

Main Street
As many as 30,000 people may have lived in Petra during the 1st century AD. It is a misconception that Petra was a city only for the dead. A large earthquake in AD 363 destroyed at least half of the city. Petra never recovered from this destruction.

The Monastery is the largest tomb façade in Petra, measuring 50 m wide and 45 m high.  Despite its name, it was built as a tomb monument and may have acquired its name from the crosses inscribed inside.

Like the Kazneh, the structure consists of two stories topped by a magnificent urn.   The architectural detail of the Kazneh is not evident in this building.

A small Edomi Scholars debate who the designers and builders of the tombs of Petra were.  They were probably the product of local workers and artisans brought in from Alexandria and Rome.  The monuments are Nabatean in style, but they incorporate classical, Egyptian and Mesopotamian elements. 

A small Edomite stronghold dating to the Iron Age (7th-6th century B.C.) has been found on top of Umm el-Biyarah which is a high, steep-sided, flat-topped hill in Petra.  The Edomites were displaced by the Nabateans and moved into the region of southern Judea.

In New Testament times they were known as the Idumeans (Mk 3:8).  The Nabateans have been described as “one of the most gifted and vigorous peoples in the Near East of Jesus’ time” (Wright, Biblical Archaeology 229). They exacted high tolls from the caravans which passed their way.  

The greatest king of the Nabateans was Aretas IV (9 B.C. to A.D. 40).  His rule extended as far north as Damascus during the last part of his reign; this was at the time Paul escaped from Damascus (2 Cor. 11:32).

The Monastery
The Monastery is the largest tomb façade in Petra, measuring 50 m wide and 45 m high. Despite its name, it was built as a tomb monument and may have acquired its name from the crosses inscribed inside. Like the Kazneh, the structure consists of two stories topped by a magnificent urn. The architectural detail of the Kazneh is not evident in this building.

Herod Antipas (“that fox,” Lk 13:32) left his wife, a daughter of Aretas, to marry Herodias (Mk 6:17-29).  When the rejected wife fled to her father, he sent an army to defeat Herod in A.D. 36.

Jebel Haroun
In Bedouin tradition, Jebel Haroun is Mt. Hor where Moses’ brother Aaron was buried. Most scholars reject this, locating Mt. Hor near Kadesh-barnea to the west. Some believe that Petra may be Sela in the OT, largely because of the meaning of the name (2 Kgs 14:7; Isa 16:1). Sela is “rock, cliff, fissure” in Semitic cognates, and Petra is “rock” in Greek. Others place Sela just north of Bozrah or believe it to be a general reference meaning “the rock, cliff.”

The chief deities of the Nabataeans were the sun god Dushara and the goddess Allat. Dushara was symbolized by a block of stone or a stone obelisk.  Several can still be seen in Petra.

In Bedouin tradition, Jebel Haroun is Mt. Hor where Moses’ brother Aaron was buried.  Most scholars reject this, locating Mt. Hor near Kadesh-barnea to the west.  Some believe that Petra may be Sela in the OT, largely because of the meaning of the name (2 Kgs 14:7; Isa 16:1).

Sela is “rock, cliff, fissure” in Semitic cognates, and Petra is “rock” in Greek.  Others place Sela just north of Bozrah or believe it to be a general reference meaning “the rock, cliff.”

The Roman emperor Trajan conquered Petra in A.D. 106 and converted it into the province of Arabia.  The Romans continued the rock sculpturing of the Nabataeans but added a theatre, a street with colonnades, etc.  Some have speculated, on the basis of Gal 1:17 that Paul spent time at Petra after his conversion to Christ.