God Is Waiting (Isaiah 28; Isaiah 29)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 28; Isaiah 29

Our Scripture reading for the month of March will be predominately in The Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the LORD’S prophet to Judah. The ministry of Isaiah spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah (1:1): Uzziah [also known as Azariah] was king beginning in 809 B.C. and reigned 52 years. Jotham [son of Uzziah] reigned 16 years. Ahaz, who succeeded his father as king, reigned 16 years. Finally, Hezekiah succeeded his father, and was king of Judah 29 years.

Isaiah was a contemporary of the prophets Jonah, Hosea, and Micah. During his lifetime, Assyria was the predominant world power, and would conquer Israel while Isaiah was prophet in Judah.

Our Scripture reading begins with Isaiah 28, and the prophecies and events recorded in this and the next chapters are positioned during Hezekiah’s reign.

Isaiah 28

God’s Judgment of Ephraim (28:1-3)

Isaiah announced God’s judgment against Ephraim (i.e., Israel), saying, “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, Whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, Which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!” (28:1)

The pride of Ephraim was most likely Samaria, the capital city of the northern ten tribes. Rather than spare Samaria, Isaiah foretold that great city would be crushed, and its beauty would fade like a flower (28:1). Assyria’s armies would sweep over the land “as a flood of mighty waters” (28:2). Reminding us of the hazards of drunkenness, we read, “the drunkards of Ephraim, Shall be trodden under feet” (28:3).

God Spared Judah. (28:4-15)

While Israel would be destroyed, and its people taken captive, Isaiah prophesied a “residue” (a remnant) of Judah would be spared (28:5). In spite of that nation’s sins, and the guilt and incompetence of its leaders, Judah would be spared from Israel’s fate (28:4-13).

Like Israel’s rulers (28:3), the leaders of Judah were a drunken lot (28:7-8), and we read the wine had caused the priest and prophet to err, and “stumble in [their] judgment” (28:7; Leviticus 10:9; Ezekiel 44:21). What an inglorious, disgraceful scene we are given when we realize the debauchery of Judah’s spiritual leaders, for “all tables [were] full of vomit and filthiness, so that there [was] no place clean” (28:8).

Drunkenness had led to incompetence, and Isaiah asked, “9Whom shall [I] teach knowledge? And whom shall [I] make to understand doctrine?” (28:9a) Isaiah observed, can newborn babes, weaned of their mother’s breast grasp what is taught? (29:9b) Do spiritual leaders have to be taught like children? Must they be instructed “precept upon precept” (simple, elementary, repetitions, 28:10)? Can the people only grasp baby talk, (“here a little, and there a little,” 28:10). Israel had rejected the Torah, and the nation had lost its way.

Because Judah had rejected the prophets, the LORD declared He would speak to His people “with stammering lips and another tongue” (that “tongue” being the language of Assyria, 28:11. Rejecting the warnings of the prophets (28:14), Judah’s leaders had in effect made a pact with death and hell (28:15). They had come to believe their own lies (28:15).

A Firm, Unshakeable Foundation (28:16-17)

Jerusalem’s leaders betrayed the LORD, and judgment was certain; nevertheless, God promised He would “lay in Zion [Jerusalem] for a foundation a stone, A tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: He that believeth shall not make haste” (28:16). Jerusalem was destined for destruction, and the people would be led away captive to Babylon, but Isaiah assured the people He would not forsake them, and His kingdom would endure (28:16).

Isaiah 28:16 is a Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom the New Testament Scriptures revealed as the Rock (Romans 9:33), and the Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6; Luke 20:17; Ephesians 2:20).

Isaiah 29

To understand Isaiah 29, when we read “Ariel,” think of Jerusalem, for Ariel [literally, “the Lion of God”] was “the city where David dwelt” (29:1).

Isaiah 29:1-14 records God’s warning of imminent judgment against Jerusalem, Judah’s capital. Hard times were ahead, and the LORD, identifying with Assyria as tool of judgment, declared, “I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, And I will raise forts against thee” (29:3).

The citizens of Jerusalem would be humiliated, and their speech become a whisper (29:4); however, the LORD promised He would intervene for His people. He promised to strike fear into their enemies “with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, With storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (29:6). The dream of the nations to overthrow Jerusalem, and conquer Judah would become a nightmare (29:7).

Because prophecy often has an immediate and a far-reaching implication, I believe Isaiah 29:6-8 is also descriptive of the siege of the nations against Jerusalem during the “battle of Armageddon” (Zechariah 14:1-3; Revelation 14:14-20; 16:13-21).

Drunken Debauchery and Three Indictments (29:9-16)

The drunken debauchery in Jerusalem invited three indictments against the people. The first, they were spiritually desensitized, and had become spiritually lethargic (29:9-12). They were hypocrites, for though they were ignorant of God’s Truth (29:11-12), they continued to speak of the LORD with their lips; rejecting His Law and Commandments, they followed the precepts of men (29:13-14). Lastly, they presumed they could hide their sinsfrom the LORD (29:15), and supposed they could manipulate Him with their words (29:16).

Closing thoughtsIsaiah 29:15-24 serves as a reminder that the God of Heaven is Sovereign Creator, and nothing escapes His knowledge or is beyond His control. The people of Judah were foolish, and believed the LORD had no knowledge of their schemes, and the sins they committed in secret (29:15). Isaiah reasoned with them, as the potter’s clay cannot rise up against the potter, man should not be so foolish to think he can assert himself against God and say, “He made me not” (29:16).

Isaiah 29:17-24, I believe, is a picture of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom which He will establish after His Second Coming. Isaiah prophesied, when the LORD rules the earth and reigns from His throne in Jerusalem, the desert of Lebanon will thrive with fruit (29:17), the deaf will hear, the blind will see (29:18) and the meek and poor will rejoice (29:18).  What a glorious day that will be!

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith