Bible: What Does Isaiah 28-31 Teach Us About Spiritual Blindness and Salvation?
Egypt, Assyria and Babylon
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Isaiah 28-31: Israel's Inebriation; Woe to the Spiritually Blind and Worldly; Conditions for Salvation
Mocking Isaiah's Teaching
In rebuking Ephraim (the northern kingdom), even the "crown of pride" (Samaria), for his drunkenness, Isaiah draws attention to Adonai who will use a mighty one to trample and “eat up” the people (vv. 1-4).
But "in that day" Yahweh Sabaoth will also bring glory, beauty, justice, and strength to the remnant (vv. 5-6).
Rampant inebriation pervades religious leadership circles in Ephraim, leading them into error and debauchery (vv. 7-8).
The prophet cannot find anyone in Ephraim who would listen to God's word.
They mock him as he tries to teach, accusing him of speaking to them in piecemeal fashion as though they were children (vv. 9-10).
"Therefore," Isaiah says, in effect, "since you will not listen to the LORD, whose words would have brought you peace, the time will come when Ephraim will hear God's message through the unintelligible language of a foreign conqueror (Assyrians), and it will bring you destruction instead" (vv. 11-13)!
A Covenant with Death
Addressing the rulers—who thought that they would escape the "overflowing scourge," not knowing that they had made a "covenant with death" and an agreement with Sheol (vv. 14-15)—the LORD announces the certainty of their judgment.
Despite their attempts to evade it, they will suffer horribly. Why?
They neither lived righteously nor believed in the "precious cornerstone" lain in Zion (vv. 16-19; cf. 1 Peter 2:6).
Insufficient for their needs is this covenant with death (v. 20).
God will surely judge His people; the prophet calls it here "His awesome work, His unusual act" (v. 21; cf. Hab. 1:5).
Therefore, Isaiah exhorts them to submit to God's will in order that He might limit the excesses of slavery that they would otherwise have to endure (v. 22).
As an example of a right response, the prophet employs "the parable of the plowman" who, after obeying God's instruction about how to farm properly, consequently prospered (vv. 23-29).
Spiritual Blindness in Judah
Isaiah issues yet another “woe,” this time to Ariel [Jerusalem] (v. 1). Although the city will experience distress, siege, and humiliation (vv. 2-4), yet her enemies will be quickly destroyed (v. 5).
Yahweh Sabaoth will violently punish all those would-be conquerors of Mount Zion (vv. 6-8).
Spiritual blindness strikes Israel's spiritual leaders, so that they do not understand Isaiah's vision (vv. 9-11).
Yahweh therefore pronounces His judgment upon those who do Him lip service only; the “wisdom” of Judah's religious leaders will perish (vv. 13-14).
God will confound them so that their wisdom becomes folly. Isaiah directs his third woe toward those who vainly seek to hide their works from the LORD (vv. 15-16).
Future Restoration for Israel
A glorious future awaits Israel. The land will become productive beyond that of earlier days; the "unfortunates" will prosper greatly, and evil men will be annihilated (vv. 17-21).
God will cause Jacob to glorify Him when he sees his children in his midst (vv. 22-23), and those who erred will be restored (v. 24).
Woe for Seeking Help from Egypt
Still another woe—now, to those who seek worldly, instead of godly, counsel—comprises Isaiah's next message (v. 1).
Israel had sought military help from Pharaoh, yet desired no aid from the LORD (v. 2).
God permitted this disobedience in order to bring shame upon His rebellious children; they would discover that Egypt could not benefit them (vv. 3-5).
Isaiah then introduces an oracle against the "beasts of the South" (Egypt) [v. 6].
Israel sends payment over the desolate miles to the nation that would provide no help to them against his enemies (v. 7).
Therefore, God instructs the prophet to delineate Israel's rebelliousness against God's message (vv. 8-9)—a rebellious attitude propped up because the people desired to hear more "pleasant" things, i.e., lies (vv. 10-11).
Upon those who despise His word Yahweh promises sudden judgment, even total destruction (vv. 12-14).
Conditions for Salvation
However, He also gives conditions for their salvation and strength: repentance, resting in Him, quietness, and confidence before Him (v. 15).
Nevertheless, the people choose their own way.
Respecting that decision, God permits them this freedom, to their own distress and unrest (vv. 16-17).
God will wait until Israel returns to Him in order that He may show him grace.
Once He sends these “showers” upon the people, they will exalt Him, and He will have mercy on them (v. 18).
He will bless those who wait for Him by answering their prayer (v. 19) and giving them instruction (v. 20), guidance (v. 21), moral knowledge concerning idols (v. 22), and material abundance (vv. 23-24).
Sufficient, even plentiful, water and light will pervade the land in the day Yahweh heals Israel (vv. 25-26).
Isaiah depicts God's judgment on Assyria in anthropomorphic language (vv. 27-28).
While Israel rejoices (v. 29), the voice of the LORD will completely devastate the enemy (vv. 30-31).
Tophet is the "Waterloo" of the king of Assyria (v. 33).
Restoration to God's Favor
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Repent, O Israel
Isaiah pronounces another "woe" [# 5] against those who trust in Egypt for military help (v. 1; cf. 30:1-2).
God will destroy both those who trust in Egypt and Egypt itself (vv. 2-3).
Likening Himself to a lion defending its downed prey and to birds guarding their portion, Yahweh vows that He will defend and preserve Jerusalem against her enemies (vv. 4-5).
The prophet commands Israel to repent (v. 6); by eliminating their idols, they would demonstrate the authenticity of their “turning” (v. 7).
God will put Assyria to the sword, and it will become a slave nation—one greatly afraid (vv. 8-9).
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