CAN YOU EXPLAIN PROPHETIC “BURDENS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
When the term “burdens” is situated in a prophetic context—that is, the foretelling of future events—the idea is a message heavy for the Prophet to bear because of the serious, scathing denunciation leveled against the audience and the frightful doom predicted concerning it.
Here are examples of this usage of “burden” as relating to prophecy:
- Isaiah 13:1: “The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.”
- Isaiah 14:28: “In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden.”
- Isaiah 15:1: “The burden of Moab. Because in the night Ar of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence; because in the night Kir of Moab is laid waste, and brought to silence;….”
- Isaiah 17:1: “The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.”
- Isaiah 19:1: “The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.”
- Isaiah 21:1: “The burden of the desert of the sea. As whirlwinds in the south pass through; so it cometh from the desert, from a terrible land.”
- Isaiah 21:11: “The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”
- Isaiah 21:13: “The burden upon Arabia. In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye travelling companies of Dedanim.”
- Isaiah 22:1: “The burden of the valley of vision. What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops?”
- Isaiah 23:1: “The burden of Tyre. Howl, ye ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Chittim it is revealed to them.”
- Isaiah 30:6: “The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.”
- Jeremiah 23:33-34,36,38: “ And when this people, or the prophet, or a priest, shall ask thee, saying, What is the burden of the LORD? thou shalt then say unto them, What burden? I will even forsake you, saith the LORD.  And as for the prophet, and the priest, and the people, that shall say, The burden of the LORD, I will even punish that man and his house….  And the burden of the LORD shall ye mention no more: for every man’s word shall be his burden; for ye have perverted the words of the living God, of the LORD of hosts our God….  But since ye say the burden of the LORD; therefore thus saith the LORD; Because ye say this word, The burden of the LORD, and I have sent unto you, saying, Ye shall not say, The burden of the LORD;….”
- Ezekiel 12:10: “Say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem, and all the house of Israel that are among them.”
- Nahum 1:1: “The burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.”
- Habakkuk 1:1: “The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.”
- Zechariah 9:1: “The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.”
- Zechariah 12:1: “The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.”
- Malachi 1:1: “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.”
If you read the passages in which these verses are positioned, you will see the LORD God’s impending judgment against sinners (Jews and Gentiles alike). Sufficient warning and ample time have been given, so the audiences are without excuse. In fact, these prophecies still await ultimate fulfillment. They are not “dead history!”
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