THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
In the End God Wins
Isaiah 33 SCC 8/25/13
FORCED TO DEPEND UPON THE LORD IS THE SURE WAY TO VICTORY 33:1-6
Verse 1: The destroyer and treacherous one in view is Assyria. So far Assyria had practiced destruction and treachery without having them come back on her, but eventually it would. Sennacherib accepted a large sum of money that King Hezekiah sent to him so he would not besiege Jerusalem, but Sennacherib accepted the money and attacked Jerusalem (2 Kings 14ff). That is treachery. The Lord was the opposite of the Assyrian king. He was always true to His promises, and the Davidic kings were to follow His example as His vice-regents. Behaving opposite from God is to court divine discipline.
Verse 2: The faithful remnant in Judah prayed to the Lord, evidently as the enemy approached Jerusalem. These godly Judeans asked for The Lord’s grace or selective favor on the ground that they had trusted in Him. They asked Him to be the daily strength of those who opposed the destroyer, Assyria. They also requested deliverance for the Jerusalemites when Assyria attacked. Never underestimate the power of a praying minority.
NB: Grace is always a selective favor in the Bible. It is not earned but simply given as a selective favor most often of God, which benefits another who is needy when the thots, motives, and actions of the receiver are approved of and or pleasing to the giver, God.
Verse 3: The prayer continues as the remnant anticipated the Lord creating a tumult and rising up to defend His people in times of trouble. When He would do that, enemies would flee and their nations disperse. The Lord is Judah's only hope not Assyria (alliance) and not Egypt (alliance), only The Lord. Humans tend to panic and lose trust in times of crisis and uncertainty. They try to save themselves using their resources or the resources of other humans, to no avail!
Verse 4: When the Lord arose against Israel’s enemies the battle would be over almost as soon as it had started. The Jerusalemites would loot the spoils of war as voraciously as caterpillars and as swiftly as locusts. It is easy picking. God will take Assyria to the cleaners.
Verse 5: "He dwells on high" is a metaphor for heaven. The result would be glory for God. He is the sovereign ruler of the world. He would fill Zion with justice and righteousness. Here Isaiah began to look into the distant future when Christ’s rule will characterize this.
Verse 6: Here is why the future is reliable. His people would then enter into their time in history, a time marked by salvations of many kinds, wisdom in following God’s ways, and knowledge of the truth. Fearing the Lord will be the key to the treasures that He has laid up for His people. Judah's hope and stability is the faithful character of her God. So lean on Him.
WHEN IN OUR GREATEST NEED IS THE LORD’S ABILITY PROVEN 33:7-12
Verse 7: (Here is a lament) the siege of Jerusalem is underway. The brave warriors are weeping in the streets of the city, and the ambassadors who had returned from peace also grieve publicly. Both “hawks” and “doves” realize that trust in humans rather than in God proved ineffective.
Verse 8: People are afraid to go out onto the highways to travel about the land. The enemy has broken his treaty having no regard for the cities or the individuals he is now attacking.
Verse 9: All parts of Israel suffer because of the invading Assyrians. Lebanon was a forested region in the north, Sharon a beautiful plain to the west, and Bashan and Carmel were fertile areas to the east and north respectively. Assyria had decimated all the best (most fruitful) parts of the land. It’s like a grocery store before a storm. The shelves are picked over and a remnant of bad fruit is all that is left in the coolers. And everyone is only taking care of himself or herself at the moment.
Verse 10: (Here is God’s response) God’s people having been punished in measure, it was time for the Lord to arise or to get up in their defense. The critical moment for Him to act had arrived, and He would now exalt Himself by delivering them. God is always on time!
Verse 11-12: The Jews in Judah had done their best to bring forth victory through their own efforts, but all they yielded was chaff and stubble, nothing substantial. Now God would thoroughly consume the little that they were able to produce. He will now do what they had not, namely in v 12 He would destroy Israel’s enemies as thoroughly as limestone and thorns. Pulverize and destroy.
IN THE END GOD WINS, ISRAEL IS SAVED, AND THE WORLD CHANGED 33:13-24
Isaiah now turned to focus on one aspect of the future hope of the nation: Zion. It will consist of a people and a king.
The people of Zion 33:13-16
Verse 13: God summoned, through His prophet, the entire earth, and those far and near, to pay attention to what He had done to His people. This refers to God's people in exile in Assyria and to God's people still in Judah. God’s powerful acts toward Israel in the past will cause the nations to stream to Zion in the future and proclaim God’s powerful ability and faithfulness.
Verse 14: The spectacular demonstration of God’s holiness in Assyria’s defeat would terrify sinners in Zion, those Jews who were unrepentant in Isaiah’s day. They would realize that they could not reside in His holy presence because of their sins. That Yahweh is a devouring fire is understood throughout the OT as a symbol of his holiness. Why would we want God around here? Impossible to live with Him.
Verse 15: Here is what you need to live with Him in His glory! Only the righteous may dwell in Zion where God resides. Various activities mark the righteous person. His righteousness is not just private but public. His speech is pure, he does not extort money from others, and he does not take bribes. He does not listen to anything connected with hurting other people, and he will not look at anything vulgar, evil, or perverted. That is, he will not participate in these things. Stop entertaining these or have a market in them and let it dry up since there is no profit in it. These last two characteristics are particularly challenging to us who live in an age of motion pictures, television, and Internet.
Verse 16: Such a righteous person will dwell with God, who dwells on the high places. He will be safe from attacks by enemies since God is his refuge. And God will provide for his needs. In other words, he will enjoy God’s fellowship, protection, and provision. Security and a good economy are yours.
The King of Zion 33:17-24
The subject now shifts from the people who will inhabit the future Zion to the king who will rule there. This is a revelation of Messiah’s universal rule. It begins with four characteristics:
1. Your eyes will see the King…
Verse 17: The prophet now assumed that his audience was righteous. Not only will the righteous be with God in the future but they will even see the excellent king with hearts that discern His right to rule. He will rule well because of the people who are righteous. They will also see a broad land in which there can be freedom of movement. Christ will literally rule on earth in the land.
2. Your heart will meditate on terror…
Verse 18: There will be no fear of enemy officials who noted things down, weighed things out, and assessed Israel’s strength by taking inventories when He rules in the land.
3. You will no longer see the fierce people…
Verse 19: Neither will there be terror caused by invading armies that used incomprehensible speech. Foreign tax collectors who spoke an alien language may also be in view—taxes, fees, and penalties. These were all fears that the Judeans had when the Assyrians invaded. This has been a universal fear throughout human history—can be read about in our history books and seen today.
4. Your eyes shall see Jerusalem…
Verse 20: Zion had a future that Isaiah’s audience needed to contemplate. It would be a place where God’s people would feast and rejoice in fellowship with Him. It would be a peaceful, secure, durable habitation in contrast to the temporary and vulnerable tents of their nomadic forefathers and all the Israelites during the wilderness wanderings. The seemingly endless pilgrimages of the Israelites would finally be over.
Verse 21: The mighty king over this Zion will be The Lord Himself, a divine ruler, even Messiah. The meaning is, that, by virtue of Jehovah’s dwelling there, Jerusalem had become a place, or equivalent to a place, of broad streams, like those which in other instances defended the cities they surrounded and of broad canals, which kept off the enemy, like moats around a fortification. The greater Jerusalem.
Verse 22: Messiah will be the judge (leader and governor), lawgiver (legislator and chief), and (permanent) ruler of His people. He will be the head of all branches of government—judicial, legislative, and executive. He will provide deliverance in every situation. This verse was the basis for the Mayflower Compact, the covenant that the Pilgrims made when they left England for America in A.D. 1620. It was also the basis for the government of the United States, which had its roots in the Mayflower Compact.
Verse 23: The enemy of Israel, represented here as a disabled ship, would not be able to overcome other cities or pursue trade by normal means. Zion would take the spoil of a conquest that her king had gained that was now past. The physically weak would take the plunder of the strong. Assyrian kings boasted of the spoil that they took in war, but even the lame among God’s people will take plunder.
Verse 24: Physical sickness and spiritual sin will be totally absent from eschatological Zion. This description pictures the absence of all disabilities. Iniquities will also be forgiven. The basis for this forgiveness is the sacrifice of Christ. This is one of the grand pictures of life during the coming reign of Jesus Christ on earth. That kingdom will begin following His second coming, continue for 1,000 years, and then extend forever into eternity.
1. Depending upon the Lord is an ethereal concept that becomes a real concept because we often find ourselves in need greater than our ability to meet. So we learn dependence upon the Lord through circumstances that force us to pray, to trust, and to hang on in faith. This is necessary and significant on this side of the grave.
2. Difficulties, hardships, and threatening circumstances are the laboratory through which God’s powerful ability can be demonstrated. This is why evil exists so that the power, the grace, and the glory of God can be clearly evidenced by it.
3. Eventually dependence upon the Lord will no longer be necessary but that will not be possible until we either die or are raptured and then changed into his likeness. There is no dependence in heaven because there is no faith in heaven. Then it will be site. So recognizing this eternal reality, we allow it to govern our attitudes, our actions, and our lifestyles while living her in dependence and faith.