Scripture reading – Isaiah 28; Isaiah 29

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Our chronological Scripture reading returns to the Book of Isaiah, chapters 28 and 29.

Review – The prophet Isaiah was a contemporary of the prophets Jonah, Hosea, and Micah. His ministry spanned the reigns of four kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1). Uzziah [also known as Azariah] was king beginning in 809 B.C. and reigned for 52 years. Jotham [son of Uzziah] reigned for 16 years. Ahaz, who succeeded his father as king, reigned for 16 years. Finally, Hezekiah succeeded his father and was king of Judah for 29 years.

Isaiah 28

Reproof of Drunken Ephraim (Isaiah 28:1-13)

Although Isaiah was primarily God’s prophet to Judah, the opening prophecy of Isaiah 28 was focused on Israel. Heralding God’s judgment of Ephraim (i.e., Israel), Isaiah said, “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!” (Isaiah 28:1)

The pride of Ephraim was probably Samaria, the capital city of the northern ten tribes. Rather than spare Samaria, Isaiah foretold that the great city would be crushed, and its beauty would fade like a flower (Isaiah 28:1). As prophesied, the army of Assyria did sweep over the land “as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, As a flood of mighty waters overflowing (Isaiah 28:2).

When I read, “the drunkards of Ephraim, Shall be trodden under feet” (Isaiah 28:3), I remember the same befell the drunken revelers of ancient Babylon when the Medes and Persians conquered that great city in a night (Daniel 5). Though Israel would be destroyed and its people taken captive, Isaiah prophesied a “residue” (a remnant) would be mercifully spared (Isaiah 28:5).

Much like the politicians of our day, the leaders of Israel were a drunken lot, and we read that wine caused the priest and prophet to err and “stumble in [their] judgment” (Isaiah 28:7; Leviticus 10:9; Ezekiel 44:21). What an inglorious, disgraceful scene we are painted when we picture the debauchery of Israel’s spiritual leaders: “All tables [were] full of vomit and filthiness, so that there [was] no place clean” (Isaiah 28:8).

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

Because they rejected the prophets, the LORD declared He would speak to His people “with stammering lips and another tongue” (that “tongue” was the language of Assyria, Isaiah 28:11).

Reproof of Drunken Ephraim (Isaiah 28:1-13)

A Warning to the Southern Kingdom (Isaiah 28:14-22)

Beginning with verse 14, Isaiah directed his prophecy to Judah. Despite that nation’s sins and the incompetence of its leaders, Judah survived another century before falling to northern Israel’s fate. After rejecting the prophet’s warnings (Isaiah 28:14), Judah’s leaders had, in effect, made a pact with death and hell (Isaiah 28:15). They came to believe their lies (Isaiah 28:15).  [I have observed that pathological liars do come to believe their lies.]

Nevertheless, the LORD promised He would “lay in Zion [i.e., Jerusalem] for a foundation a stone, A tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: He that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah, was destined for destruction. Yet, though the people would be led away to Babylon, Isaiah assured the people that the LORD would not forsake them, and His kingdom would endure (Isaiah 28:16).

Isaiah 28:16 was a Messianic prophecy 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). Of course, the Jews rejected Christ at His first coming and the Gentiles crucified Him; however, He is coming again, and it will come to pass that, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner” (Matthew 21:42).

 

Isaiah 29

 

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

A Warning of Judgment (Isaiah 29:1-8)

Isaiah 29:1-14 recorded God’s warning of imminent judgment against Jerusalem, Judah’s capital. Hard times were ahead, and the LORD, identifying with Assyria as a tool of His judgment, declared, “I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow…I will

camp against thee round about and will lay siege against thee with a mount, And I will raise forts against thee” (Isaiah 29:3).

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

Because prophecy often has an immediate and far-reaching implication, I believe Isaiah 29:6-8 described not only the doomed siege of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 19; 2 Chronicles 32) but also described the future gathering 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 (Isaiah 29:9-16)

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

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

Closing thoughts

Isaiah 29:15-24 served 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 (Isaiah 29:15). Isaiah reasoned with them, as the potter’s clay cannot rise against the potter, man should not be so foolish to think he can assert himself against God and say, “He made me not” (Isaiah 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 (Isaiah 29:17), the deaf will hear, the blind will see (Isaiah 29:18), and the meek and poor will rejoice (Isaiah 29:18).  What a glorious day that will be!

Are you ready for the LORD’s coming?

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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