THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
The Danger of Preferring the False Way
Isaiah 30-31 SCC 8/11/13
Israel still relies on Egypt. The false way is the opposite way God asks us to take. When you go that way then understand that the outcome will break you without pity. Rely only on the Lord for help. Faith Is Living Without Scheming.
IT IS FOLLY TO SEEK HELP FROM THE WORLD 1-7
30:1: The Lord pronounced woe on those who were acting like rebellious children. They were carrying out a plan that was not the Lord’s. Specifically they were seeking an alliance with Egypt. The Lord had forbidden alliances with Egypt. Relying on the brute strength, the military might, and the trained personnel of Egypt to provide security for their nation; Going down to Egypt to secure these things revealed a lack of trust in the Holy One of Israel who had long ago proved His sovereignty over Egypt. Rather the people should have simply looked to the Lord and cultivated relationship with Him.
30:2: How ironic that God’s people thought they could find life in Egypt, which had historically been a place of death for them and from which they had fled formerly. They had done this without even consulting the Lord. Rather than seeking safety under the shadow of the Almighty they had sought it under the shadow of Pharaoh.
30:3: the safety they had sought would prove to be a delusion. The supposed protection that Pharaoh offered would result in the disappointment of hopes and would turn to disgrace.
30:4: Judah’s ambassadors had reached Egyptian governmental centers at Zoan in the northern Nile delta, and Hanes, farther south, and were evidently received warmly.
30:5: they were bound to be ashamed because the Egyptians would not help them fight against the Assyrians. Unwilling to humble themselves, the Lord would humble His people by humiliating them.
30:6: the title “oracle” (lit. burden) may be wordplay with the objects of this prophetic message, the burden-bearers (beasts) of the Judean ambassadors. Rather than going directly to Egypt through Philistia, the Judean ambassadors had taken the circuitous and dangerous route through the Negev, probably to avoid Assyrian detection. They had taken roughly the same route as their ancestors who left Egypt in the Exodus only traveling in the opposite direction. This irony highlights the folly of returning to Egypt for help.
30:7: Egypt of all nations would not be a help to God’s people. She would live up to the nickname that the Lord had given her. Rahab means pride, turbulence, arrogance, and boastfulness. Her promises of help would be worth nothing. Rahab was a do nothing ally.
PURSUING THE WORLD’S HELP IGNORES THE HELP GOD IS ABLE TO GIVE 8-17
1. Refusing God’s help is sinful and culpable before God 8-14
30:8: The Lord commanded Isaiah to write a public record on a table and a private one on a scroll, two enduring witnesses against His people’s lack of trust in Him. The public record was for His people then to learn from, and the private one was for later generations.
30:9: these records were necessary because Israel had proved to be a rebellious, disappointing son of God who refused to listen to His instruction. This is a general indictment.
30:10-11: in their attitudes and actions they had made the statements in these verses, though probably not with their mouths. They wanted innocuous preaching that did not confront them with the will of the Holy One of Israel.
30:12: but the Holy One of Israel would not let them escape His word. They had rejected His will and had rested their confidence on what seemed best to them.
30:13-14: Consequently, their iniquity would lead to disaster similar to the sudden internal collapse of a high wall and the severe external smashing of an earthenware jar. It would be complete, as when no useful pieces remain after the smashing of a pot.
2. Relying on the world’s help will prove illusive and destructive 15-17
30:15: the specific reason for Judah’s coming judgment was her refusal to listen to a particular message from the sovereign Lord her God, the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah had called the people to repent and rest in the Lord for their salvation. He had promised that their quiet trust in Him would prove to be their strength 15. He had commanded “not alliance but reliance.” Yet the people refused.
30:16: their punishment would be talionic; their punishment would fit their crime. They would flee before their swift enemy because they chose to run away on swift horses rather than to rest in the Lord. When we rely on our swiftness and strength it is only a matter of time before someone faster and stronger comes along and overtakes us.
30:17: the threat of only one man would so terrify a thousand that they would flee. The presence of only a few of the enemy would drive multitudes from their land. A deserted flag or signal on a hilltop would be all that would indicate the former presence of the people of Judah.
GOD REMAINS FAITHFUL TO HIS FUTURE PROMISES SO WHY NOT TRUST HIM 18-26
Human unfaithfulness does not destroy divine faithfulness.
30:18: the Lord is a God of justice; He will do what is right at the right time. Since He promised to bless His people, He will also, after punishing them for their lack of trust, extend grace and show compassion to them. So those who long for Him will experience blessing when their waiting is over.
30:19: after the tears will come comfort and caring. It is the people of Zion and Jerusalem that will experience this. God will answer their prayers and they will be joyful.
30:20-21: after God hid Himself from His people, having given them privation and oppression as their daily food and drink, as a prison sentence, He would finally reveal Himself to them again. God would guide them in His moral will. Then their eyes would see Him and their ears hear correction.
30:22: they will demonstrate a change of attitude and commitment as well. Idolatry will no longer appeal to them, and they will abandon false gods.
30:23-24: there will be plenty of rain so the harvests will be bountiful. The agriculture of Palestine depended totally on rain. There will be abundant pastureland for the cattle that will eat the best food.
30:25-26: there will also be an abundance of water, even on the hilltops, when the Lord defeats His enemies at Armageddon. Increased light and the healing of God’s formerly broken and bruised people will also mark “that day”. The point is that things will be much better then than now.
GODS FAITHFULNESS IS ENOUGH FOR TODAY TOO 27-33
From the distant future (millennial blessings), Isaiah turned to the immediate future and promised deliverance from the Assyrian threat. In spite of their sinful reliance on Egypt, God would spare them from defeat at the hands of the Assyrians.
30:27-28: the Lord would involve Himself in Judah’s situation personally, His name being the summation of His character. He would come from heaven to judge the nations. God’s anger burned like fire, and His judgment would overwhelm people like a flood. He would sift the nations in judgment like grain in a sieve, and He would control them as a rider directs his horse.
30:29-30: They would rejoice as they worshipped the Lord because of His deliverance. It would be spectacular.
30:31-32: Assyria would tremble at God’s judgment of her. The Lord’s blows would be matched by His people’s rejoicing at the defeat of their enemy.
30:33: Topheth refers to a funeral pyre. The Lord had prepared it long ago for the king of Assyria. Sennacherib met his defeat in Jerusalem when the Lord slew many of his soldiers there, but he personally died in Nineveh shortly after that. Topheth was an area in the valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem where the Israelites sometimes sacrificed their children to the Ammonite idol Molech.
1. Reliance on the Lord will be tested when we are threatened by our circumstances. If we become vulnerable to them we may refuse to follow the Lord and scheme our way through.
2. Our propensity to scheme is another way of expressing unbelief. Unbelief says ‘I know better what is in my best interests than God does.’ God says this is sin and it will be accounted for.
3. Unbelief is a product of an unenlightened heart about the nature of the biblical God. When God’s nature is questioned or misunderstood or uninformed, then we assume control and direction for our lives simply because God cannot be trusted. I do not know Him well enough for that.
4. Even though our scheming is unproductive, we continue to go back there because we are wired up that way. We naturally forget God and rely on ourselves. It is a habit—a sinful one for us.
5. So the only way to turn this around is through knowing God by knowing His mind, will and heart. That is only possible as we listen to understand and apply His Word and will. Faith Is Living Without Scheming. There is no help in Egypt.