Scripture reading – Isaiah 32; Isaiah 33

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Remembering that prophecies often have an immediate application and a far-reaching implication, we come to Isaiah 32 and 33 in our chronological study of the Scriptures. After foretelling the LORD’s devastating judgment against Assyria (Isaiah 31:8-9), Isaiah continued his prophecy regarding Judah’s future.

Isaiah 32

The Millennial Kingdom (Isaiah 32:1-5)

Commentators suggest the king that is prophesied to “reign in righteousness” (Isaiah 32:1) was Hezekiah. Given his long reign and faithfulness to the LORD, there may be some standing for that suggestion. In my opinion, however, only one King has the honor to be declared as reigning “in righteousness,” and that is the LORD Jesus Christ.

Who but Christ will give understanding and sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and understanding to “rash” (sin-hardened) hearts? (Isaiah 32:3-4). Christ alone can transform vile, godless men and give them generous hearts. He alone can turn the “churlish” (scoundrel) and make him “bountiful” (noble, Isaiah 32:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Four Sins Invited God’s Judgment (Isaiah 32:6-8)

For any who might have protested the punishment, the prophet indicted Judah with four sins: 1) The vile and godless had spoken “villainy,” for their mouths were filled with lies and curses (Isaiah 32:6a). 2) They were hypocrites, leading others away from the LORD and into error (Isaiah 32:6b). 3) They discouraged men’s souls, leaving them spiritually hungry and thirsty (Isaiah 32:6c). 4) They planned, plotted evil, and destroyed men’s souls with lies. Who are their victims? They are the same as those in our day…the poor and the needy (Isaiah 32:7).

A contrast to those whose evil ways invited God’s judgment was the “liberal [that] deviseth liberal things” (Isaiah 32:8). In this context, the liberal is not the political liberal of our day (who are deniers of truth and lawless) but a reference to a generous, giving soul. While vile, hypocritical, and evil men leave souls hungry and thirsty (32:6-7), the ways of a liberal, generous soul shall “stand” (i.e., endure, Isaiah 32:8).

The Land and Cities Would Be Distressed by God’s Judgment (Isaiah 32:13-14)

A Warning to Spiritually Lethargic Women (Isaiah 32:9-12)

Even the women of Jerusalem and Judah were not spared Isaiah’s indictment for Judah’s sins. Wealthy women, described as “ease” and “careless[i.e., secure, carefree, self-confident], were admonished to “give ear” to Isaiah’s warning (Isaiah 32:9). Isaiah warned those women that the days and years ahead would be full of troubles. The “vintage” [grapevines] would fail. The “gathering shall not come” (Judah would soon face a time of famine, Isaiah 32:10).

Understanding the troubles ahead, Isaiah admonished those women to strip themselves of their fine linens and wear “sackcloth” (a rough cloth that was a sign of mourning, Isaiah 32:11). They would “lament for the teats” (a sign of distress that indicated mothers would be unable to feed their infants, Isaiah 32:12).

 

The Land and Cities Would Be Distressed by God’s Judgment (Isaiah 32:13-14)

With the people taken away and in captivity, Judah would be overgrown by “thorns and briers,” and the once bustling cities would fall silent and empty. The palaces would be abandoned and destroyed, and the towns and forts would become places where wild beasts roamed unhindered and unmolested (Isaiah 32:14). God’s judgment would render the land fruitless and eventually overtaken by the wild.

 

The Millennial Kingdom Transformation (Isaiah 32:15-18) 

The LORD, however, promised a day would come when He would pour out His spirit upon the land (Isaiah32:15a). Creation would be renewed as “the wilderness [would become] a fruitful field, and the fruitful field would be counted for a forest” (Isaiah 32:15).

On that day, justice and righteousness will reign in the land (Isaiah 32:16), and the redeemed will enjoy peace, quietness, and security (Isaiah 32:17). God’s people will live in peace and be secure in their homes (Isaiah 32:18).

 

Closing thoughts for Isaiah 32 –

God’s judgment was imminent, and Isaiah prophesied that “hail” (a natural disaster and a sign of judgment in the Scriptures) would fall upon “the forest” (most likely a symbol for Assyria, Isaiah 32:19). For a brief season, Judah would enjoy peace, but the Babylonian empire was increasing and soon overtook all Judah and Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, Isaiah foresaw a time of peace in the distant future. A time when wars would cease, and the people would be able to cultivate their lands and sow beside still waters. The earth will be so fruitful that even beasts will wander about undisturbed (Isaiah 32:20).

The LORD Will Hear and Answer Judah’s Prayer (Isaiah 33:3-6)

Isaiah 33

 

A Warning to Assyria for Invading Judah (Isaiah 33:1)

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was the subject of the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 33. He was king during the reign of Hezekiah, the king of Judah (2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 32). The fulfillment of the prophecy recorded in Isaiah 33 is recorded in Isaiah 36-37.

Isaiah 33:1 was a pronouncement of woe against Assyria and a warning that the nation would suffer the sorrows and troubles it was heaping upon Judah.

Judah’s Appeal to the LORD (Isaiah 33:2)

With Assyria encamped outside the walls of Jerusalem, God’s people cried to the LORD and said, “Be gracious unto us” (Isaiah 33:2). Judah had exhausted its resources and appeals for help to other nations, and at last, the people prayed the LORD would be “their arm [strength; power] every morning,” and their “salvation also in the time of trouble” (Isaiah 33:2).

The LORD Will Hear and Answer Judah’s Prayer (Isaiah 33:3-6)

Isaiah foretold how the Assyrians would be scattered “at the noise of the tumult” (i.e., the sound of warring armies) and take flight (Isaiah 33:3). Their flight from Judah would be so hurried that the possessions of Sennacherib’s soldiers became spoils for the people (Isaiah 33:3-4). Assyria’s defeat would exalt the LORD, and “judgment and righteousness…wisdom and knowledge” would reign and bring peace to Jerusalem for a season (Isaiah 33:5-6).

Judah’s Despair During the Assyrian Siege (Isaiah 33:7-9)

Isaiah’s prophecies should have imparted hope to Judah; however, the people were terrorized by Assyria’s presence in the land. The prophet foretold that the bravest of Judah would cry (Isaiah 33:7a), and the emissaries who failed to negotiate for peace would weep bitterly (Isaiah 33:7b). 2 Kings 18:14-16 records an attempt by King Hezekiah (Judah) to establish a covenant and purchase peace. Still, Assyria broke the covenant and attacked the cities of Judah (Isaiah 33:8). Sennacherib’s army left in its path a scene of destruction and desolation (Isaiah 33:9; 2 Kings 19:17-18).

God’s Promise to Intervene (Isaiah 33:10-12)

Though Assyria was the great power in its day, Isaiah assured the people of Jerusalem that the Assyrians were no more than chaff and straw to the LORD. The soldiers of Assyria were a terror to behold, but Isaiah promised the LORD would devour the army with His “breath, as fire” (Isaiah 33:11).

The Lesson and Effect of God’s Judgment (Isaiah 33:13-18)

God’s judgment of Assyria became a lesson to all nations that Judah’s God was mighty (Isaiah 33:13). Even “the sinners in Zion” would fear when they witnessed the wrath of the LORD (Isaiah 33:14). Yet, to the righteous, the terror of God’s judgment would be a lasting testimony (Isaiah 33:15-18).

Who are the righteous? They are those who walk uprightly and obey the LORD’s Laws and Commandments (Isaiah 33:15a). The righteous speak the truth and refuse bribes (Isaiah 33:15b). They will not entertain the plot of murderers nor look upon evil (Isaiah 33:15c). The righteous dwell with the LORD on high. They will neither hunger nor thirst (Isaiah 33:16). They will see the LORD in all His glory (Isaiah 33:17-18).

Jerusalem Will Be Saved (Isaiah 33:19-24)

Humanly, Assyria’s siege of Jerusalem was impossible to overcome. Yet, when the Lord’s people were in fellowship with Him, their adversary failed (Isaiah 33:19). Assyria fled, and Jerusalem enjoyed a season of peace (Isaiah 33:20; 2 Kings 19:32-35). On that day, God’s people were reminded that the LORD was their Judge, Lawgiver, King, and Savior (Isaiah 33:22).

 

Closing thoughts –

The nation of Israel and the world in our day are far from the peace Isaiah promised would come. The news of wars and conflict abounds, and hopelessness shadows the hearts and homes. Believers, however, should take comfort in this: The day comes when Christ returns, and He will reign in Jerusalem as Isaiah prophesied.

On that day, there will be no hunger or thirst (Revelation 7:16), and “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

What a happy day that will be!

 

Questions to ponder –  

1) What are the characteristics of the kingdom when Christ shall reign? (Isaiah 32:1-4)

2) What sins invited God’s judgment? (Isaiah 32:6-7)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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