The last article on The Prophet Isaiah ended at Chapter 27 verse 13:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.
I concluded that article by saying that if there is a lesson to be learned through the words of the Prophets, it is this: God's will - will be done! And His people shall return to the Holy Mount and though God may punish them for a time, he will also punish those who deliver judgment upon the people of his covenant.
Today we commence at Isaiah Chapter 28 with words of Judgment on the prophets, priests and leaders of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and proceed through to Chapter 31 by which point the Lord has pronounced judgment not only on his erring people, but upon Assyria who was his instrument of chastisement, and on Egypt to whom the people relied for security.
Isaiah Chapter 28
Judgment on the prophets, priests and leaders.
Verse 1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim
The reference to Ephraim refers to the 10 northern tribes which constituted the Northern kingdom of Israel which was vanquished in 722 BC.
Verses 1 - 8 talks of judgment on a people who are filled with pride and drunkenness
Verse 7 specifically refers to the prophets and priests who have erred through stong drink and their "spiritual" vision and judgment are in error
Verses 9 and 10 relate to the necessity for people to be mature in order to understand the teaching and doctrine of God
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little. (I Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able)
Verse 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
This verse is quoted in 1 Corinthians 14:21 and is used in conjunction with the Pentecostal 'Speaking in Tongues' Within the context of the judgment to come on the people of the day however, the strange tongues would be the language of the foreign invaders.
Verse 13 is an interesting verse for it uses the idea of teaching and learning in little steps, to paint a picture of religious people who for all their learning fall backward, and are broken, snared and taken captive by the enemy
But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
The leaders thought that they were wise and would escape from judgment but God makes plain that this would not be the case:
Verse 16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Ephesians Chapter 2:19-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone)
To the end of the chapter there are exhortations using Agricultural allegory:
- God's remedial chastening of people will be temporary, just as each step in the farm operations is temporary, be it plowing, harrowing, sowing, or threshing. Each procedure will lead to the ultimate objective: a harvest of good grain which portrays the ultimate salvation of all.
God exhorts the people not to be mockers (V.22), to give ear to him and heed his voice (V.23) and to pay attention to his teaching and instruction because he 'is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working'.
Isaiah Chapter 29
Verse 1 Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt!
This chapter is directed against Jerusalem - here called Ariel.
I will distress Ariel (V.2), I will camp against - lay siege against and raise forts against thee (V.3) And thou shalt be brought down (V.4) and there will be a multitude of all the nations fight against mount Zion (V.8).
Verses 10-12 talk of the Lord putting a spirit of deep sleep on the prophets and rulers so that those who ought to know and understand do not in fact understand. Why is this so? The Answer is in Verses 13-15:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?
(Oh that we might today pay attention to this admonition and give up our lip service to our God and cease from putting our faith in the wisdom of this age.)
Verses 17-19 speak of the work that the Lord will do, opening the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind, bringing joy to the meek and causing the poor to "rejoice in the Holy One of Israel". (Isaiah 35:5 and 42:7 / 1 Corinthians Chapter 1:26-27)
Verses 20-21 are of particular note because they speak of those who with evil intent lie in wait to pounce on the innocent; who find 'false' fault in those against whom they stand and who refuse 'just and honest' speech and judgment. (See John Gill Commentary.)
We see much of this in society today where words are given legislated meanings and a slip of the tongue can result in a slap on the wrist; where one fears speaking the truth in one's heart for it is unacceptable to the unrighteous. There is a similar theme in Romans Chapter 1 in reference to the darkening of the mind that comes upon those who reject God and call the truth a lie.
This chapter concludes however with verse 24 saying - They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. (May it be so in our day as well!)
Isaiah Chapter 30
This Chapter continues with the theme of those who do not walk in uprightness; in the way that God has taught them.
Verses 1-2 Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
Aside from the historical considerations of turning to Egypt for protection against the Assyrians, the spiritual aspect is that God's people must learn to trust in God himself. In Verse 7 God points out that "the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose".
God's requirement is made clear in Verse 15
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.
Verses 8-14 records that the people are rebellious, liars, a people who refuse to hear the Law of the Lord; a people who don't want to know what God or the prophets say; who want only to hear the smooth or easy things.
How much different is the situation today? And lest we become complacent we should pay attention to the promise of God to such people, that swift and sudden judgment will come as a 'breach in the city walls'. Although God calls his people to rest, quietness and confidence in Him, unfortunately the people choose to rely on human thinking and planning by turning to those who appear to have worldly strength. (Verses 15-17)
Nevertheless Verses 18 and 19 remind the people that the Lord will wait "that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
From verses 20 to 29 we read of the reasons and the results of God's chastisement of and judgment on his people.
though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction... thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it....Then shall he give the rain of thy seed.. in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures...And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall (V. 25). Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound (V.26). Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel (V.29).
Verses 30-33 relate to the judgment of God on the nation of Assyria who was/will be his instrument of chastisement on his people.
Isaiah Chapter 31
The first verse of this chapter is one with which most Christians would be familiar. It is a verse that sums up the meaning in the preceding chapter, and should form the foundation of our faith in Christ.
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
Verse 3 reminds us that "the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit", and warns that they and the people they try to help will both fall but in verse 4 the Lord declares "the LORD of hosts [shall] come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
Verses 4 and 5 make quite clear that God himself with fight for Mount Zion - Jerusalem - for Israel - and just as that was true back then so it is today and it behooves us to take note of it.
Verses 8 and 9 tell us that God will cause the Assyrians to turn back and flee to their own country.
These verses remind us of the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC (Second Chronicles 32:21-22)
And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side
From these Chapters today we learn that the priests and leaders of a people must live right and do right and teach the doctrines of God lest they lead their people into drunkenness, pride and error and God chastise them. We also see that they whom God uses as instruments of chastisement will also be punished and furthermore, that when the nation is faced with chastisement, judgment and destruction, God's people must be still before the Lord and trust in Him.
Today secular academics and liberal theologians do their best to downplay the Scriptures and the importance of the prophetic word contained therein. They will say of the book of Isaiah for instance, that it is not a book of prophecy but was written 'after the events' and written as if it was 'prior to the events'.
These same people also find many reasons to discount the prophecies of Ezekiel and the Apostle John (Book of Revelations) and yet today we find ourselves living in an age prophesied by both. 'Global Governance', the euphemism for 'One World Government' is at our door. The 'Whore of Babylon' (Revelations Chapter 17) can be seen rising in the world financial and political system which seeks to destroy the Christian Faith and cause individual Nation States to lose their independence through submission to the United Nations. The 'Mark of the Beast' without which men can neither buy nor sell is partially in place already (from credit cards and debit cards to implanted computer biochips), and the restoration of Israel is already an established fact thus paving the way for the Battle of Armageddon.
Whatever we may believe about God and whatever theology about God we may hold, the reality is that world history is converging on Biblical Prophecies written between 2000 and 2700 years ago, and it behooves us not only to be aware of that but to remember that our salvation lies in returning to and resting in the Holy One of Israel; in having a quiet confidence in Him; in continually waiting upon the Lord and not relying on human strength or wisdom, and paying attention to HIS teaching and instruction because HE 'is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working'.
M. Wallace Johnson
Historical Reading on this time period via a new approach to understanding Bible Chronology - See Mr. BenDedek's
Articles by M. Wallace Johnson
Introducing M. Wallace Johnson
Holy, Wholly or Holey SERIES
Idols in Ministry SERIES
No 1: The Prophet Amos
Full list of M Wallace Johnson articles in his Column at the Writers Journal