Isaiah 28-29

 

Tonight we will begin looking at our next section, Isaiah 28-37. These chapters mainly focus on the Assyrian invasion of Israel and their attempt to take over Jerusalem. A strong warning is given against Jerusalem not to rely on Egypt to help them but to realize that God is their deliver. Isaiahís hope is that his people will learn the lesson from the northern kingdom and turn from their ways before it is too late, but as we know this would not be the case. For our time tonight, we will look at Chapters 28-29.

 

Isaiah starts out talking about the downfall Israel, more specifically though not directly mentioned, it is believed this is talking about the last strong hold of Israel, which was Samaria their capital. In our lesson tonight, we are going take a look at most of the verses. Letís begin by looking at the descriptive language being used to describe the downfall of Israel by the Assyrians.

 

Isaiah 28:1 Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valleys, To those who are overcome with wine!2 Behold, the Lord has a mighty and strong one, Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, Like a flood of mighty waters overflowing, Who will bring them down to the earth with His hand.3 The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, Will be trampled underfoot;4 And the glorious beauty is a fading flower Which is at the head of the verdant valley, Like the first fruit before the summer, Which an observer sees; He eats it up while it is still in his hand.5 In that day the LORD of hosts will be For a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty To the remnant of His people,6 For a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, And for strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.7 But they also have erred through wine, And through intoxicating drink are out of the way; The priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, They are swallowed up by wine, They are out of the way through intoxicating drink; They err in vision, they stumble in judgment.8 For all tables are full of vomit and filth; No place is clean.9 " Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little."11 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people,12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest," And, "This is the refreshing"; Yet they would not hear.13 But the word of the LORD was to them, "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little," That they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught.

 

Isaiah uses the word ďwoeĒ 23 times in his book because Godís people and other nations had found themselves opposed to God. Isaiah lets us know that Israel, or more specifically Samaria is about to fade away like a flower. However, in the midst of this destruction, Isaiah gives them hope in verse 5 as he talks about the remnant that would be saved.

 

Then he continues to point how their constant addiction to wine and strong drink was causing them great harm. He gives a pretty nasty yet accurate picture of what alcohol does to men and women. It renders them useless. About the only thing they can do good is vomit everywhere and lie in it. When people are intoxicated, they cannot listen to reason, they cannot put together intelligible words or thoughts.

 

The Bible has many negative things to say about the use of alcohol, yet we have people today who try and defend social drinking or just drinking enough as not to get drunk. When are people going to learn from history and see that nothing good can from social drinking? Strong drink certainly played a role in the downfall of Israel.

 

Next, Isaiah turns his comments directly to the leaders of Judah:

 

Isaiah 28:14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scornful men, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,15 Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we are in agreement. When the overflowing scourge passes through, It will not come to us, For we have made lies our refuge, And under falsehood we have hidden ourselves."

 

I do not believe this these leaders said that these exact words, but their actions did. These leaders were mocking the message from God and denying that they would face the destruction Isaiah was mentioning. Man has away of doing this with Godís Word. Think about how many times people today will say ďyes, I believe in God, but He is a God of love and as long as I live alright I will be fine.Ē Then you have religious groups like the Jehovah witness who try and tell people that there is no hell.

 

We have to be careful as Christians today to make sure that we do not allow ourselves to get fooled by man thinking we are ok with God when we are not. We must make sure that we are walking the righteous path by comparing what we do with what Godís Word says. If we are not, we will not be any better of then these rebellious Jews. As Jesus said:

 

Luke 6:46 " But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?

 

Right in the middle of Isaiah rebuking these leaders, he gives a prophecy of hope that point directly to Christ.

 

16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.17 Also I will make justice the measuring line, And righteousness the plummet; The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, And the waters will overflow the hiding place.

 

 

 

This is talking about Jesus and the church that would be established and built upon the foundation of Godís truth. Those who would believe in it would not act hastily like these Jews had been. They would not believe in lies or spread lies about God and the punishment He brings. Instead, under Christianity, God impending doom on the sinner will motivate the Christian to warn those around them as Paul states in:

 

2 Corinthians 5:11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;

 

The reason we can know that Isaiah is talking about Christ and the church that came in the first century is because Jesus said He was fulfilling this prophecy in:

 

Matthew 21:42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'?

 

Peter speaking of Jesus said:

 

Acts 4:11 "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'

 

As Isaiah points out, this stone would be laid in Zion, which is where the church would begin just as prophesied in other Scriptures (Isa. 2; Dan. 2) and was fulfilled in the N. T. (Acts 2).

 

Isaiah move from hope back gloom and doom to Judahís leaders:

 

18 Your covenant with death will be annulled, And your agreement with Sheol will not stand; When the overflowing scourge passes through, Then you will be trampled down by it.19 As often as it goes out it will take you; For morning by morning it will pass over, And by day and by night; It will be a terror just to understand the report."20 For the bed is too short to stretch out on, And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.21 For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon -- That He may do His work, His awesome work, And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.

 

Whatever these men think is going to happen it will not come to pass because God is the one in control. Man should never become confident or feel secure in his own doings, it like have a short bed with covers that are too short. You may feel a little secure, but you are never completely comfortable or covered. However, with God, you can be.

 

He makes a reference to two battle places that David had great success because he relied on God, but the just opposite will be true because God would end up being behind their enemies who cause them great harm and eventually He would be behind the Babylonians that would wipe them out and take them into captivity.

 

Isaiah 28:23 Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my speech.24 Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow? Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods?25 When he has leveled its surface, Does he not sow the black cummin And scatter the cummin, Plant the wheat in rows, The barley in the appointed place, And the spelt in its place?26 For He instructs him in right judgment, His God teaches him.27 For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, Nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin; But the black cummin is beaten out with a stick, And the cummin with a rod.28 Bread flour must be ground; Therefore he does not thresh it forever, Break it with his cartwheel, Or crush it with his horsemen.29 This also comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.

 

This a beautiful parable as God compares Himself to a farmer. This was great message for them to hear back them and for us to hear today. He is teaching them, that just like a farmer, God is actively involved in our lives. He does not just plow the dirt, he sows it, waters it, and reaps it.

 

He does not use the same method for every person just like the farmer uses different methods for planting and gathering the various types of plants. As long as the plants are growing, the farmer will continue to cultivate them and give them every opportunity to grow, but if they die off there is little for the farmer to do. In a similar way, as long Godís people or moving forward God will continue to give us opportunities to grow, but if we decide to rebel and turn to our own wicked ways, then there is little He can do for us. This rebellious way will lead to us being cut down or cutoff from Lord.

 

John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

 

Let us not forget how diverse our God is when it comes to His involvement in the world and in our lives. He understands that what works for one person will not work for another. Since He knows the heart of man, He always knows the best method to use through His providential care. God had used many ways to warn His people in the O.T. times, but they did not listen and they ended up be taken into captivity. Even that was done by the great wisdom of God because He knew that their downfall would eventually lead to their renewed faithfulness in God, which would eventually lead to Christ and the everlasting kingdom.

 

Isaiah 29:1 "Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! Add year to year; Let feasts come around.2 Yet I will distress Ariel; There shall be heaviness and sorrow, And it shall be to Me as Ariel.

 

Ariel means the lion of God. Sometimes people have tendency to think too highly of themselves based on past events. The Jews in Jerusalem apparently had the attitude that they could stand against their enemies since their city is where David dwelt. Though David was a faithful servant of God, his dead body being in that location would not protect them because they were being rebellious. Notice how Isaiah goes on to explain how much misery they will be in because of their enemies.

 

3 I will encamp against you all around, I will lay siege against you with a mound, And I will raise siegeworks against you.4 You shall be brought down, You shall speak out of the ground; Your speech shall be low, out of the dust; Your voice shall be like a medium's, out of the ground; And your speech shall whisper out of the dust.5 " Moreover the multitude of your foes Shall be like fine dust, And the multitude of the terrible ones Like chaff that passes away; Yes, it shall be in an instant, suddenly.6 You will be punished by the LORD of hosts With thunder and earthquake and great noise, With storm and tempest And the flame of devouring fire.7 The multitude of all the nations who fight against Ariel, Even all who fight against her and her fortress, And distress her, Shall be as a dream of a night vision.8 It shall even be as when a hungry man dreams, And look -- he eats; But he awakes, and his soul is still empty; Or as when a thirsty man dreams, And look -- he drinks; But he awakes, and indeed he is faint, And his soul still craves: So the multitude of all the nations shall be, Who fight against Mount Zion

 

This prophecy is not talking about one specific enemy because verse 7 says it talking about multitude of nations. God brought great punishment on His people from various enemies. However, the Babylonians would ultimately fulfill all that Isaiah spoke of in these verses.

 

He paints quite the picture. Remember, Ariel means lion of God. When you think of a lion, you think of a strong animal with a loud roar, but they will become muffled lion that has been beat into the ground. Then he brings to mind thunder, earthquakes and a devouring fire.

 

Starting in verse 8, he is talking about how their enemies will not stop coming for them because they will be like man who is dreaming he ate and draink food and water but wakes up empty. In other words, no matter how many attacks they make or goods they take from Jews, they will not be satisfied, they will continue to crave more.

 

."9 Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.10 For the LORD has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. 11 The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, "Read this, please." And he says, "I cannot, for it is sealed."12 Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, "Read this, please." And he says, "I am not literate."

 

Very simply put, Isaiah is telling them their eyes have been closed to the truth. They have allowed their hardened hearts to cause them to be blind. God will not force them to see. It always a sad day when Godís people refuse to take heed to His Word, but this is nothing new. It was happening to the Jews then, and it was happening in the first century:

 

Romans 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

 

It is happening today. What Paul tells Timothy sounds a lot like verse 12 of our text:

 

2 Timothy 3:6For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

This is serious problem that we must do our best to avoid by making sure that we always humble ourselves before the Lord and accept what His Word says and live by it.

 

Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work Among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, "Who sees us?" and, "Who knows us?"16 Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, "He did not make me"? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, "He has no understanding"?

 

If you have read you N.T. very much, several things here should sound familiar to you because Jesus quotes verse 13 when He was talking about how the Pharisees were just paying lip service to God, but their hearts and minds did really belong to God because they kept putting their man-made traditions equal with God commands and in some cases they put them above Godís commands. Paul quotes the last part of verses.

 

Overall, Isaiah is emphasizing how the Jews might honor God with their lips, but they did not keep His commandments and they were turning to other gods and other men. They were even getting to the point of thinking they could hide their thoughts and their actions from God. They were putting themselves above God, but Isaiah lets them know that this is not the case because manís wisdom will perish, but Godís will not. Since He created us, who are we to try and bring God down to our level or make Him beneath us. This is certainly a problem with many in the world today.

 

As Christians today, we must not allow the philosophy of men to deceive us. It is important that we always seek the wisdom of God and not mansí because only God has the wisdom that is worth having:

 

Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the LORD.

Proverbs 2:6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;

 

Let us never forget that we are the pot and God is the potter.

 

Isaiah ends the Chapter on a positive note of the future.

 

Isaiah 29:17 Is it not yet a very little while Till Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, And the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest?18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, And the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness.19 The humble also shall increase their joy in the LORD, And the poor among men shall rejoice In the Holy One of Israel.20 For the terrible one is brought to nothing, The scornful one is consumed, And all who watch for iniquity are cut off --21 Who make a man an offender by a word, And lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, And turn aside the just by empty words.22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: "Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale;23 But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel.24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine."

 

Isaiah just finished talking about how God is in control and how these bad things are going to happen to His people. However, since He is in control all hope for His people is not lost. Just as He has the power to punish them with by the hands of their enemies, He can once again restore them into fruitful field.

 

Several commentaries I read, believe these verses are ultimately point to the time of Christ and the new spiritual Israel. While that might be the case, I personally see this pointing more to the Jews having their eyes opened to the truth once they are brought low by their enemies. This will knock them off their high horse and make them realize how foolish they had been. Eventually, their enemies will be destroyed and they will be redeemed, which they experienced when they rebuilt Jerusalem. Whether this ultimately points to the first century or not does not really concern me as much as the principle that is taught, which is that God is in control and He can make us or break us, but if we chose to humbly follow Him, He will be right there with us helping us prosper spiritually. If we fail and we are chastised by the Lord, we must open our eyes to our situation and change our ways. If we do, we will be blessed, if do not, we will find ourselves in opposition of God. I like that last verse:

 

24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine."

 

Sometimes great things come from despair. It is a shame that it takes terrible events in our life to wake up spiritual, but sometimes that is exactly what we need to turn from our wicked ways and to stop complaining about everything and to give us the desire to get back into Godís Word where we should have been in the first place.

 

Though the Book of Isaiah can be a bit tedious and depressing because of the many woes and rebellion being rebuked, there is much for us to learn from this great book that will help remind us to not to follow in the footsteps of these rebellious Jews or the sinful world. So, I hope you will try and get as much as you can from these lessons on Isaiah.