Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt ~ Yesha’yahu 31:1-9

In my last post, we began to explore a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 30:12-29. In this post, we conclude our investigation of a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 in Yesha’hayu 30:27-33.

This is the fifth woe in chapters 28-33. The issue again is that Adonai’s people were trusting foreign nations (in this case, Egypt) rather than Adonai for help against their enemies.

1 Woe to those going down to Egypt expecting help relying on horses; trusting in chariots, because they have many, and in the strength of their cavalrymen but not looking to the Holy One of Isra’el, not consulting Adonai.

The “holy war” theme of the Tanakh makes it clear that Isra’el’s safety depended on Adonai, not on the size of their army. Examples include the battle of Jericho (Joshua 7), Gid’on’s victory over the Midyan (Judges 7-8), and countless other accounts (Psalm 20:7).

2 But He too is wise and can bring disaster, and He does not take back His words; He will rise against the house of evildoers and against the help of those who do wrong. 3 Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses’ flesh and not spirit. So, when Adonai stretches out His hand, both he who helps will stumble, and he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.

Isra’el’s attempt to get help from Egypt will backfire because Adonai will cause both helper (Egypt) and helped (Adonai’s people) to be destroyed. It’s as if the Adonai is saying, Why are you looking to the Egyptians? They’re not going to be able to help you. They’re not Adonai. They’re only men. So, seek Me instead.”

Are we reticent to seek the Adonai? Our strength comes from our dependence upon Adonai alone.

4 For here is what Adonai says to me: “As a lion or lion cub growls at its prey and isn’t frightened away by the shouts of hordes of shepherds called out against him their voices do not upset him so likewise Adonai-Tzva’ot will descend to fight on Mount Tziyon, on its hill. 5 Like hovering birds, Adonai-Tzva’ot will protect Yerushalayim. In protecting it, He will rescue it; in sparing it, He will save it.

Adonai is the only One who can protect His people. In these verses, Yesha’yahu uses two images to describe Adonai’s protection. He is a fearless lion on behalf of Isra’el against the foreign armies (represented by the shepherds who try to fend Him off). He is also hovering over His people as birds hover over their prey. The point is that Adonai will see to the deliverance of His people.

6 People of Isra’el! Return to Him to whom you have been so deeply disloyal! 7 For on that day everyone will discard his idols of silver and idols of gold, which you made for yourselves with your own sinful hands.

The restoration of Adonai’s people has two sides: returning to Him, which implies repentance, and rejecting false gods in the form of silver and gold idols. We see this prophecy fulfilled when Hezekiah removed the high places, broke the idols, and cut down the groves used in idol worship (2 Kings 18:4).

8 Then Ashur will fall by a sword, not of mortals, a sword, not of humans, will devour him; he will flee before the sword, and his young men will be put to forced labor.

Adonai is the real reason Ashur will fall. He will use Bavel for this task, but Adonai is the One who will give Bavel the victory.

9 His rock, out of terror, will pass away, and his panicked officers will desert the standard.” So says Adonai, whose fire is in Tziyon, whose furnace is in Yerushalayim. ~ Isaiah 31:1-9 (CJB)

Though the reference is unusual, the rock is probably a reference to the Ashurim king. A rock is something that provides shelter and protection, but in this case, the rock will fail to give a defense. The standard is a reference to a battle standard used to rally troops. Tziyon’s fire and Yerushalayim’s furnace may be a reference to the altar fire, but in the context of judgment, it may point to the fire that will come out of Yerushalayim to destroy the attacking enemy.

In my next post, we move on to Yesha’hayu 32. Yesha’yahu takes a brief respite from the woes in this chapter, and we will learn of the Coming of a Righteous King in verses 1-8.

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Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 ~ Yesha’yahu 30:27-33

In my last post, we began to explore a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 30:12-29. In this post, we conclude our investigation of a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 in Yesha’hayu 30:27-33.

Recall from our previous study that the rebellious children were Adonai’s chosen people who sought help from Egypt rather than relying on Adonai.

The prophecy in verses 27-33 describes Adonai’s appearance as a judging warrior. The object of His wrath is not revealed until verse 31, where Ashur, the oppressor of God’s people, is named.

27 Here comes the name of Adonai from afar, His anger burning, in thick rising smoke. His lips are full to the brim with fury, His tongue a consuming fire. 28 His breath is like a racing torrent that rises up to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction, and put a bridle in the peoples’ mouths to lead them astray.

Adonai‘s anger is described in human terms as if He had lips, tongue, breath, and neck. He is hot with anger. He will take the wayward nations and bridle them as if they were a donkey or horse. Then He will guide them in the way He wants them to go.

There were two types of sieves used by Israeli farmers gave them different results. One had large holes that caught stones and other large objects as the worker shifted it back and forth. The sieve of destruction in this passage had smaller holes and was meant to separate the smaller items from the grain through a swift up-and-down motion. This makes an excellent metaphor for Adonai’s act of judgment.

29 Your song will be like one that is sung on a night when a holy feast is kept, and your hearts will be happy, as if walking to the sound of the flute, to the mountain of Adonai, to the Rock of Isra’el.

The scene shifts to the people of Adonai who will celebrate this act of God. The judgment of their enemies is a cause for rejoicing. They will praise Adonai as if it were a holy feast like Pesach or Sukkot. The mountain of Adonai refers to Tziyon where Adonai (their Rock, a title that signifies shelter and protection) will make His presence known.

30 Adonai will make his glorious voice heard, and he will reveal his arm descending with furious anger in a flaming firestorm, with cloudbursts, tempests, and hailstones.

Adonai often uses weather as His weapons against the objects of His anger.

31 For Adonai’s voice will terrify Ashur, as with His scepter He strikes them down.

Adonai’s voice is powerful. Ashur, the region’s superpower, will be punished.

Jon Courson opines:

This speaks not only of that local situation but also of the end times yet to come, for Ashurim was also a name for the antichrist, the charismatic world figure who will seek to dominate the planet. Like the Ashurim army of old, however, antichrist, too, will be beaten down. [1]

32 Every sweep of the punishing rod that Adonai imposes on him will be to tambourines and lyres, as He brandishes His arm against them in battle.

The blows of weapons are compared to the beating of tambourines. Bavel was the appointed punishing rod of Adonai to bring down Ashur in the late seventh century BCE.

33 For the Tofet fire pit has long been ready, prepared for the king, made large and deep, with plenty of wood and blazing with fire; like a stream of sulfur, Adonai’s breath sets it aflame. ~ Isaiah 30:27-33 (CJB)

Tofet was in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom (Jeremiah 7:30-34). This valley was immediately south and west of Yerushalayim. At times, it functioned as a garbage heap for the city. In Greek, this valley was known as Gehenna, which became associated with hell. Before King Josiah’s (one of the good kings) reforms, it had been a place where the foreign god Molech was worshiped. Jeremiah said it epitomized the sin and guilt of the people. Adonai explicitly had forbidden human sacrifice as well as the worship of Molech. Here though it is being used for a good purpose – the burning of the body of the king of Ashur after his defeat.

In my next post, we move on to unpack another woe, this time a Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt in Yesha’hayu 31.

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[1] Jon Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2.

Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 30:12-26

In my last post, we began to explore a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 30:1-11. In this post, we continue to investigate a Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 30:12-26.

Recall from our previous study that the rebellious children were Adonai’s chosen people who sought help from Egypt rather than relying on Adonai.

12 Therefore here is what the Holy One of Isra’el says: “Because you reject this word, trust in extortion and rely on deceit, 13 this sin will become for you a crack bulging out high on a wall, showing signs it is ready to fall; then suddenly, all at once, it breaks.” 14 He will break it like a clay pot, ruthlessly shattering it into pieces so tiny not even a potsherd remains for taking fire from the fireplace or scooping water from the cistern.

The people rejected the Yesha’yahu’s warning to trust in Adonai alone and instead trusted in oppression and deceit by seeking the protection of Egypt. As a result, Adonai will cause them to collapse. They thought that Egypt would be a high wall of protection against the Ashurim, but the wall had a huge crack. It would eventually be obliterated. A potsherd is a broken piece of ceramic material.

15 For this is what Adonai Elohim, the Holy One of Isra’el, says: “Returning and resting is what will save you; calmness and confidence will make you strong – but you want none of this! 16 ‘No!’ you say, ‘We will flee on horseback!’ Therefore, you will surely flee. And, ‘We will ride on swift ones!’ So, your pursuers will be swift.17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one, you all will flee at the threat of five, until you are left isolated, like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.”

All He wants from us is to come to Him, rest in Him, trust in Him, and obey Him. He is our protector.

After the judgment described in verses 18-26, Adonai would restore His people to His favor.

18 Yet Adonai is just waiting to show you favor; he will have pity on you from on high; for Adonai is a God of justice; happy are all who wait for him!

Why does Adonai want us to wait for Him? Because, in reality, He’s waiting for the people to repent before turning His judgment into compassion and restoration. Are you relying on someone or something else for your peace?

19 People in Tziyon, who live in Yerushalayim, you will weep no more. At the sound of your cry, He will show you His grace; on hearing it, He will answer you.

The cry of the people refers to their repentance, an acknowledgment of their sin, and a turn to Adonai for help. As a result, He would respond with His favor. They will live in Yerushalayim near the presence of Adonai. The beginning of the fulfillment of this promise occurred after the Jews began returning from Bavel exile in 539 BCE.

20 Though Adonai may give you but bread and water, and not very much of that; your teacher will no longer hide Himself, but with your own eyes you will see your teacher.

The teacher of the people of Adonai is a reference to Adonai Himself, who would show them the right way to behave.

21 With your ears, you will hear a word from behind you: “This is the way; stay on it, whether you go to the right or the left.”

This is the still, small voice Eliyahu discovered that quiet voice that cannot be heard in the hustling, bustling, and scheming to which we are so vulnerable. What a joy it is to take a significant portion of time to be quiet before Adonai, for it is then that we hear His word in our ear, saying, “Follow the path I have prepared for you.”

22 You will treat as unclean your silver-covered idols and your cast metal images plated with gold; you will throw them away, like menstrual cloths; you will say to them, “Get out of here!”

To the Jewish mind, there could be no more defiling substance than menstrual blood (see Leviticus 15:19-23) and, for the people, no more defiling object than an idol (see Deuteronomy 4:15-19). Idols were among the most precious objects in the culture, but now will be treated as the most disgusting piece of trash. The spiritual transformation of the people of Adonai involves moving toward the true God and away from false gods.

23 Then he will give you rain for the seed you use to sow your land, and the food that comes from the ground will be rich and abundant. When that day comes, your cattle will graze in spacious pastures. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the land will eat a tasty mixture, winnowed free of chaff, spread by pitchfork and shovel.

Based on the lists of covenant blessings found in places like Deuteronomy 28, Adonai will grant agricultural prosperity to His restored people. While they had nothing but bread and water in verse 20, during their oppression, they would have large quantities of food in the future. Even the oxen and donkeys would have plenty of good food.

25 On every high mountain and lofty hill will be streams and flowing brooks, on a day of great slaughter, when the towers fall.

Isra’el’s prosperity was normally tenuous because of limited water supplies. Here the picture is of overflowing streams and brooks. The reference to the great slaughter and the fall of towers is probably a reference to the downfall of their oppressors.

26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as bright as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun will be seven times stronger, like the light of seven days [in one], on the day Adonai binds up the wounds of His people and heals the bruise caused by the blow. ~ Isaiah 30:12-26 (CJB)

Not only will there be abundant food and water, but light as well. Light represents what is right and godly. When Yeshua returns, the world will be completely free of the stranglehold of idolatry and will walk in His blessing and light.

In my next post, we conclude our exploration of the Woe to the Rebellious Children ~ Part 3 in Yesha’hayu 30:27-33.

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Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 28:14-29

In my last post, we explore a series of Woes, beginning with Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 28:1-13. In this post, we move on to Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 28:14-29.

The prophecy now shifts its focus from the northern kingdom to the southern.

14 So listen to the word of Adonai, you scoffers, composing taunts for this people in Yerushalayim:

Scoffers were those who did not fear Adonai and who made fun of those who did (see Proverbs 1:22; 9:7-8,12; 13:1).

15 Because you said, “We made a covenant with death, we made a contract with Sh’ol. When the raging flood passes through, it will not touch us. For we have made lies our refuge and hid ourselves in falsehoods”-

The rulers of Y’hudah had entered a dangerous agreement. The agreement is said to be with death and Sh’ol. Sh’ol refers to the grave and in some contexts signifies the underworld. Yesha’yahu probably referred to treaties with foreign nations to try to keep Ashur from defeating them.

16 therefore here is what Adonai Elohim says: “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a tested stone, a costly cornerstone, a firm foundation-stone; he who trusts will not rush here and there.

But it was not foreign alliances that made Y’hudah strong. It was their relationship with Adonai. He was the One who had built the cornerstone and foundation. Kefa declares that this verse speaks of Yeshua: For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” ~ 1 Kefa 2:6 (NIV)

There’s a great temptation for us to want some quick fix, some program, some plan to see us through, to help us out. “Lord,” we cry, “show us the way.” And Yeshua answers, “It’s not something I give to you. It’s Me. I Am the Way.”

17 I will make justice the plumb line and righteousness the plumb-bob; hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, water will overflow the hiding place,

Adonai’s standards are justice and righteousness – fair treatment of fellow citizens and trusting obedience. Both were lacking in Y’hudah.

18 your covenant with death will be annulled, and your contract with Sh’ol will not stand. When the raging flood passes through, you will be trampled down by it.

The dark pact with death and Sh’ol is doomed to failure.

19 As often as it passes through, it will take you, for it will pass through every morning, day after day, night after night; understanding the message will be sheer terror.” 20 For, [as the saying goes,] “The bed is too short for a person to stretch, and the blanket too narrow [to protect him from cold] even if he crams himself in.”

The arrangements that Y’hudah had made to protect itself against Ashur were inadequate, like a bed that was too short. The same is still valid. If you’re making finances, friends, or philosophy your rest and security, you’re going to be short-sheeted because it won’t be as secure as you think. “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28 (CJB). That’s why I became a Believer. All other beds are too short.

21 For Adonai will arise, as at Mount P’ratzim, and storm with rage, as in the Giv‘on Valley; so He can do His deed, His strange deed, and perform His task, His alien task.

Mount P’ratzim, known as Ba’al P’ratzim in 2 Samuel 5:18-20, commands the heights above the Valley of Refa’im (Joshua 15:8). Although its exact location is unknown, the text suggests that it is just northwest of Beitlechem, near Yerushalayim. At P’ratzim, Adonai gave David a great victory over the Philistines. At the Valley of Gi’von, Adonai used hailstones to allow Y’hoshua to defeat the southern coalition of Kena’ani city-states (Joshua 10:11). Though this prophecy and many of Yesha’yahu’s others describe Adonai’s violent judgment against the nations, here it is called strange and alien. It was not the typical, ordinary, hoped-for mode of relationship, particularly with His covenant people.

22 Therefore, now, stop your scoffing, or your bonds will be further tightened; for I have heard from Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot that destruction is decreed for the whole land.

Though Adonai’s judgment against the scoffing leaders of Y’hudah is absolute, their future behavior will determine whether it becomes even worse (your bonds will be further tightened).

 

In verses 23-29, Yesha’yahu drew an analogy between a farmer’s task and Adonai’s treatment of Y’hudah. Good results come from different actions and different methods applied at different times. The same thing is true spiritually. We must handle situations with different people carefully – not depending on programs or formulas, but accurately discerning what Adonai would have for us in the tilling of the soil, in the planting of the seed, and in the gathering of the harvest He promised is sure to come. The passage has the feel of a parable.

23 Listen and hear my voice; pay attention, and hear what I say: 24 Does a farmer sowing keep plowing forever? Does he never stop breaking up and harrowing his land? 25 No – when he finishes leveling it, he scatters his dill-seed, sows his cumin, puts wheat in rows, barley where it belongs, and plants buckwheat around the edges; 26 because his Adonai has taught him this, has given him instruction.

Two sowing strategies are employed here. Dill-seed and cumin were broadcast by hand. This was done in the freshly plowed furrows after the first rains. Wheat, barley, and buckwheat had to be handled more carefully to avoid mixing the seed. The farmer does not just keep plowing; he also sows seed. He places the various seeds in their separate places. This order comes from Adonai Himself.

27 Dill must not be threshed with a sledge or cartwheels driven over cumin; rather, dill one beats with a stick and cumin with a flail.

Each plant has its proper treatment. The analogy may point to the fact that Adonai exercises His judgment against sinners in a way that is appropriate to their specific situation.

28 When crushing grain for bread, one doesn’t thresh it forever; one drives the horse and cartwheels over it but doesn’t crush it to powder. 29 This too comes from Adonai-Tzva’ot — his counsel is wonderful, his wisdom great. ~ Isaiah 28:14-29 (CJB)

No bread can be made if the farmer performs only one of his tasks. Therefore, it is necessary to bring the harvested grain to the threshing floor, where it can be crushed and further by running a threshing-sled over it. The cartwheels mentioned here was a typical wooden device with two or more rows of wheels affixed. Once the grain had been separated from the stalks, it had to be winnowed, sieved and then given to the women to be crushed on grinding stones to make the fine flour used for baking.

In my next post, we explore the Woe to Ari’el (Yerushalayim) ~ Part 1 in Yesha’hayu 29:1-12.

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Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 28:1-13

In my last post, we completed exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 6 in Yesha’yahu 27:1-13. In this post, we move on to more woes over the next six chapters starting with Woe to Efrayim ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 28:1-13.

As mentioned above this is the first woe in chapters 28-33 (29:1,15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1). The effect of the prophecy is to announce, in this case, the northern kingdom of Isra’el (called by the name of its major tribe Efrayim), is as good as dead. Efrayim‘s in trouble. Once a beautiful flower, now in Yesha’yahu’s day, they were fading fast. They were proud and pompous no doubt due in part to the fact that they were overcome with wine.

1 Woe to the haughty crown of Efrayim’s drunks, to the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley belonging to people overcome by wine!

The haughty crown of Efrayim may be a reference to it’s capital city Samaria, which sat atop a large hill overlooking the area.

Garland worn by revelers is usually a sign of joy and happiness. In this instance, however, it is a fading flower as the party turns sour and drunkenness presages the destruction of the city of Samaria by the Ashurim in 722 BCE.

2 Adonai has someone strong and powerful. He comes like a hailstorm, a destructive tempest, like a flood of water, rushing, overwhelming; with his hand, he hurls them to the ground.

Someone seems to be a theophany. A theophany is a visible manifestation of Adonai to humankind. To indicate the power of Adonai, this encounter generally includes such things as smoke and fire, mighty winds and storms, and earthquakes.

3 The haughty crown of Efrayim’s drunks is trampled underfoot; 4 and the fading flower of its proud splendor, located at the head of the rich valley, is like the first ripe fig of summer— whoever sees it picks and eats it.

Appealing again to the images of a haughty crown and fading flower from verse 1, Yesha’yahu describes the devastating punishment coming on Efrayim. He adds the picture of the first ripe fig ready to be plucked and devoured.

An Ashurim invasion was imminent. It was ominous. Were Adonai’s people praying? Doubtful. Instead, they were partying.

5 On that day, Adonai-Tzva’ot will be a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of His people. 6 He will also be a spirit of justice for whoever sits as a judge, and a source of strength for those repelling enemy attacks at the gate.

Recall that on that day implies a later time. While the glorious crown of Efrayim will be trampled underfoot, Adonai Himself will become a glorious crown, a brilliant diadem for the remnant of His people. Inspired by Adonai, judges will again be just, and soldiers will still have the strength to defend their city.

While verses 1-6 criticize the nobility for their drunken behavior, the following section focuses on the priests and prophets.

7 But there are others reeling from wine, staggering about because of strong liquor; cohen and prophet reel from strong liquor, they are confused by wine. Led astray by strong liquor, they err in their visions and stumble when judging. 8 All tables are covered with vomit and feces; not a single place is clean.

The cohen and prophet were crucial to the spiritual leadership of the nation, but here they had clouded their thought with drinks. They had drunk so much alcohol that their tables are covered with vomit and feces. I must confess that is the first time that I have spotted feces mentioned in Scripture. Most English translations use filthiness. However, according to Strong’s, the Hebrew word can also be translated as dung. So, there’s that.

9 Can no one be taught anything? Can no one understand the message? Must one teach barely weaned toddlers, babies just taken from the breast, 10 so that [one has to use nursery rhymes]? — Tzav la-tzav, tzav la-tzav, kav la-kav, kav la-kav z‘eir sham, z‘eir sham [Precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there].

These decadent leaders were acting as if they were teaching babies and not adults. The content of their teaching was mocked. What they said was repetitive and meaningless.

In 2 Timothy 4:3, we read that in the last days, Believers will have itching ears, wanting to hear new doctrine. As a safeguard against strange doctrine that will lead us into error, we must study the Word line upon line, precept upon precept. Here a little, there a little, we must learn the Word for ourselves.

11 So with stammering lips, in a foreign accent, [Adonai] will speak to this people.

During this indictment against people who were no longer interested in learning the Word, Adonai said, “I’m going to speak to them through a people of stammering lips and a foreign tongue.” Who would these people be? The Ashurim. If Isra’el wouldn’t learn in the Word, she’d learn in war.

In the Book of Acts 2:4-6, we see an intriguing parallel to this verse. In Yesha’yahu’s day, Adonai used foreigners to speak to His people. On Shavuot (Pentecost), He would use His people to speak to foreigners.

12 He once told this people, “It’s time to rest, the exhausted can rest, now you can relax”- but they wouldn’t listen. 13 So now the word of Adonai for them comes “precept by precept, precept by precept, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there,” so that when they walk, they stumble backward, and are broken, trapped and captured! ~ Isaiah 28:1-13 (CJB)

In my next post, we conclude the Woe of Efrayim ~ Part 2 in Yesha’hayu 28:14-29.

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The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 5 ~ Yesha’yahu 26:11-21

In my last post, we continued exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 4 in Yesha’yahu 26:1-10. In this post, we move on to The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 5 in Yesha’yahu 26:11-21.

11 Adonai, You raised Your hand, but they still didn’t see. Yet with shame, they will see Your zeal for the people. Yes, fire will destroy your enemies.

Adonai’s upraised hand is an image of the imminent judgment against the wicked. Even though people seem to be blind to the grace and goodness of Adonai, Yesha’yahu prophesies that they’ll see. People will see His grace and goodness through their life as we continue to praise Him even while navigating trials and difficulties. The way Adonai strengthens you blesses you and stabilizes you can’t be denied.

12 Adonai, you will grant us peace; because all we have done, You have done for us.

Contrary to the fate of the wicked, Adonai’s righteous people will experience peace, not destruction. While it is hard to pinpoint the exact nature of the prophet’s reference to Adonai’s work, it certainly includes the punishment of the wicked.

When Yeshua declared, It is finished, (John 19:30) we are assured of peace as Believers and paid for it on the Execution Stake at Calvary.

13 Adonai our God, other lords besides you have ruled us, but only You do we invoke by name.

The faithful acknowledge that other lords have ruled over them. For the Isra’eli that would include the Ashurim and eventually the Bavelim and others. For ourselves, that would consist of our elected officials. However, for the faithful, there is only one true ruler – Adonai Himself.

14 The dead will not live again; the ghosts will not rise again; for You punished and destroyed them, wiped out all memory of them.

A contrast exists between this statement and verse 19. In this verse, the wicked dead stay dead. Adonai’s judgment will not be reversed. What separates Yeshua from all other gods? All other gods are dead. The uniqueness of Yeshua is based upon the fact that He’s alive. He verified His deity by His Resurrection. He proved His claims by coming out of the grave.

15 You enlarged the nation, Adonai, You enlarged the nation; and thus You glorified Yourself; You extended all the frontiers of the country.

In contrast to the wicked whom He punishes, Adonai blesses the righteous. In this verse, His blessing takes the form of an expanded land, evoking the memory that Adonai promised Avraham his descendants would become a great nation (Genesis 12:2).

16 Adonai, when they were troubled, they sought You. When you chastened them, they poured out a silent prayer. 17 As a pregnant woman about to give birth cries out and writhes in her labor pains, so we have been at your presence, Adonai – 18 we have been pregnant and been in pain. But we, as it were, have given birth to wind; we have not brought salvation to the land, and those inhabiting the world have not come to life.

Turning from the future back to the present, Adonai’s people experienced suffering similar to the excruciating pain of a woman in labor. A pregnant woman goes through that pain with a positive result at the end – a baby.

It’s when we’re hurting that we most often find ourselves praying. We tend to avoid pain at any price. In reality, our Father usually allows us to go through painful situations because it is in those times that we cry out to Him. Prayerlessness is often the result of painlessness. If we never have pain, we will be hampered in our ability to pray.

However, Adonai’s people went through the pain and simply passed gas (gave birth to wind). There was no deliverance, no victory over enemies.

19 Your dead will live, my corpse will rise; awake, and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the morning dew, and the earth will bring the ghosts to life.

Only in Daniel 12:2 does the Tanakh refer to bodily resurrection. In contrast to the wicked who die and stay dead (v. 14), Adonai’s people will live again. Virtually all scholars say this is a reference to what took place in Matthew 27 when, following the death of Yeshua on the execution stake, graves were opened, and many people in Jerusalem who had previously died were resurrected. It is a beautiful, prophetic picture of what will one day happen to all believers.

The morning dew is an image of freshness and renewal.

20 Come, my people, enter your rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past. 21 For see! Adonai emerges from His place to punish those on earth for their sin. Then the earth will reveal the blood shed on it and no longer conceal its slain. ~ Isaiah 26:11-21 (CJB)

The call to hide during the judgment is reminiscent of the first Passover when Adonai’s people stayed in their homes while Adonai took the lives of the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 12).

In my next post, we will conclude our exploration of The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 6 in Yesha’yahu 27.

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The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 3 ~Yesha’yahu 25:1-12

In my last post, we continued exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 24:13-23. In this post, we move on to The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 3 in Yesha’yahu 25:1-12.

1 Adonai, you are my God. I exalt you; I praise your name. For you have accomplished marvels, [fulfilled] ancient plans faithfully and truly.

Yesha’yahu is the first-person speaker (I) who praises God for His plan that includes judgment. His judgment is an example of perfect faithfulness because His covenant promised that punishment would follow rebellion.

2 For you have made a city a heap of stones, turned a fortified city into rubble, made the foreigners’ fortress a city that will never be rebuilt.

The city described in this and the following verses is the same as the city of chaos of Yesha’yahu 24:10. It is not a specific place but a city that represents human evil.

3 Therefore mighty peoples glorify you; the city of ruthless nations fears you.

Because of God’s judgment of sin, even nations who are violent will fear Him. Those who survive the Tribulation will, at last, realize Yeshua is Lord, and they’ll be saved. Here, they burst forth into praise because praise is the language of the kingdom.

I wonder when Iran, Russia, and China will be able to fulfill this prophecy?

4 For you have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in distress, shelter from the storm, shade from the heat – for the blast from the ruthless was like a storm that could destroy a wall. 5 Like desert heat, you subdue the foreigners’ uproar; like heat subdued by a cloud’s shadow, the song of the ruthless dies away.

The poor and the needy are the antitheses of the powerful and proud inhabitants of the city that God has judged. God is their protection, not city walls or weapons. God’s protection of the humble poor is illustrated by the image of refuge from the rain and a shade from the heat. Violent people are the rain and the heat from which God protects the vulnerable.

6 On this mountain, Adonai-Tzva’ot will make for all peoples a feast of rich food and superb wines, delicious, rich food and superb, elegant wines.

Feasting follows victory, and the prepares a beautiful feast for His people. The mountain refers to the mountain of God’s presence Tziyon (Yerushalayim).

7 On this mountain He will destroy the veil which covers the face of all peoples, the veil enshrouding all the nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever. Adonai Elohim will wipe away the tears from every face, and He will remove from all the earth the disgrace His people suffer. For Adonai has spoken.

In the Tanakh, death is occasionally personified (see Hosea13:14). Here it is Adonai Elohim who swallows death, and the setting is political (nations) not agricultural. It is “the ruthless,” devouring empire that threatens destruction to the countries who are being destroyed so that the death masks are removed from those who have been so close to extinction.

9 On that day they will say, “See! This is our God! We waited for him to save us. This is Adonai; we put our hope in him. We are full of joy, so glad he saved us!”

As we have learned in previous posts, on that day refers to a future date. Save us indicates rescue from powerful, evil enemies.

10 For on this mountain the hand of Adonai will rest. But Mo’av will be trampled down where they are, like straw trampled into a pile of manure.

The mountain is where God will make His presence known – Tziyon. Up to this point, the nations have been referred to generically. Now Mo’av (modern-day Jordan), a small country east of the Dead Sea, becomes the subject of the prophecy. Mo’av is a prime example of the sinful pride of the nations.

11 They will spread out their hands in Mo’av, like a swimmer using his hands to tread water; but their pride will be humbled and sunk, no matter how clever the strokes of their hands.

Continuing the image from the previous verse, Yesha’yahu described Mo’av is just treading water.

12 Your high, fortified walls He will level, strike to the ground, lay in the dust. ~ Isaiah 25:1-12 (CJB)

As Sha’ul says, now we see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12), but when we see Yeshua face to face, we’ll say, “We have waited for Him – and here He is. This is our God!” How I look forward to moving into the kingdom and into eternity! How our hearts crave eternity. Don’t give up, dear saints. Don’t live for this planet. Keep your hearts and minds on things above. We’re almost there! Come, Lord Yeshua!!

In my next post, we will continue to explore The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Pat 4 in Yesha’yahu 26.

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The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 2 ~ Yesha’yahu 24:13-23

In my last post, we began to learn about The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 24:1-12. In this post, we continue exploring The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 24:13-23.

13 Around the earth, among the peoples, it will be as when beating an olive tree, as when gleaning the grapes at the end of the harvest.

A harvested olive tree or a grapevine after the harvest had only a few olives or grapes. So, the cities of the nations will have just a few people left when God’s judgment falls.

14 They lift their voices, singing for joy, shouting from the west to honor Adonai. 15 So in the east, honor Adonai; in the coastlands, honor the name of Adonai, the God of Isra’el. 16 From the farthest part of the earth, we have heard them sing, “Glory to the Righteous One!” But, I say, I’m wasting away, I am wasting away! Woe to me! Traitors betray! Oh, how the traitors betray and betray!

As seen throughout Scripture, even in judgment, God shows mercy, for here, a remnant is saved who will praise Him both for His mercy and His majesty. The remnant celebrated the downfall of the wicked described in the previous verses.

Yesha’yahu (the first-person speaker in verse 16b) does not join the chorus of celebration. Perhaps he was horrified by the destruction or, more likely, by the depth of the transgression of the nations.

17 Terror, pit, and trap are upon you, you who are living on earth. 18 He who flees at the sound of terror will fall into the pit. He who climbs up out of the pit will be caught in the trap. For the windows above have been opened, and the earth’s foundations shake.

The words terror, pit, and trap play on the similarity of sound of three words in Hebrew. They stand for the judgment that God has prepared for the sinful inhabitants of the earth. The open windows of the sky imply rain and suggest a devastating flood. The shaking foundations would be experienced as earthquakes.

So all-encompassing is this judgment that there is nowhere to hide.

19 The earth cracks and breaks open, the earth crumbles to pieces, the earth trembles and totters. 20 The earth staggers to and fro like a drunk, sways back and forth like a watchman’s shelter; its transgression weighs heavy upon it; it will fall and not rise again.

As you may have observed, a drunk cannot think or stand straight. This judgment is connected to rebellion against God by virtually all people on earth. Revelation 8 says even mountains will be cast into the sea.

21 When that day comes, Adonai will punish the armies of the high heaven on high and the kings of the earth here on earth.

The phrase when that day comes points to a future but unspecified time. God’s judgment is extensive. It covers not only the earth but also the host of heaven, a phrase that either indicates the stars or fallen angels.

22 They will be assembled like prisoners in a dungeon and shut up in prison to be punished many years.

Verses 21 and 22 refer to the rulers in high places – demonic spirits. As the Tribulation comes to an end, HaSatan and his demons will be cast into a pit for a thousand years. Then, following the thousand-year period of peace and prosperity when Yeshua reigns from Yerushalayim, God will loose HaSatan and his demons — giving them one last chance to deceive the people.

23 Then the moon will be confused and the sun ashamed, for Adonai-Tzva’ot will rule on Mount Tziyon and in Yerushalayim, with his glory manifest to the rulers of his people. ~ Isaiah 24:13-23 (CJB)

Even the moon and sun will pale in comparison with the brilliant light emanating from God as He exercises His sovereign rule from the temple.

In my next post, we will continue to explore The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Pat 3 in Yesha’yahu 25:1-12.

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The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 24:1-12

In my last post, we completed our examination of A Prophecy Against Tzor (Tyre) ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 23:11-18. In this post, we begin to learn about The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 24:1-13.

Chapters 24 thru 27 deal with the time known as the Day of the Lord. It speaks of a time when the Lord will intervene in history in a way that will be obvious to all the world. Presently, the Lord works in strange and mysterious ways. That is, the kingdom of God – righteousness, peace, and joy – is within us (see Romans 14:17; Luke 17:21). But there’s coming a time when God will intervene physically. When His people are taken up, God’s wrath will come down, and for seven years, this world will experience the judgment of God.

Since this topic covers four chapters in Yesha’hayu, there will be multiple parts of this topic. Let’s begin our journey through Yesha’yahu’s revelation of that future time.

1 Look! Adonai is stripping and destroying the land, turning it upside down and scattering its inhabitants — 2 cohen and commoner, slave and master, maid and mistress, buyer and seller, lender and borrower, creditor and debtor.

The list of pairs of opposites in verse 2 is a striking way of saying that all human inhabitants of the earth will be judged without regard for social standing.

When we read Revelation 6 through 19 (see my series on the End Times), we realize this world is going to experience events of such magnitude that it will seem as if the world is turned upside down. Spiritually, the world has already been turned upside down by Believers, so on fire for the Lord that the whole world was impacted (Acts 17:6).

The Tribulation period will be a great equalizer. No one will care who lives in the most prominent house or who has the fanciest car when fifty-pound hailstones fall from heaven. In that day, when God’s judgment falls on this planet, everyone will be equally distressed. Even the rich and mighty will ask the rocks to fall upon them and kill them (Revelation 6:15, 16). Concerning these times, Yeshua said, “Stay alert, always praying that you will have the strength to escape all the things that will happen and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.” ~ Luke 21:36 (CJB)

3 The land will be completely stripped, completely plundered, for Adonai has spoken this word. 4 The land fades and withers, the world wilts and withers, the exalted of the land languish. 5 The land lies defiled under its inhabitants; because they have transgressed the teachings, changed the law, and broken the everlasting covenant.

The cause of this horrific judgment is human sin. The people have broken the covenant between God and Isra’el (Exodus 19-24). The reference to the everlasting covenant reminds the reader of the Noahic covenant between God and all the inhabitants of the earth (Genesis 9:16).

6 Therefore a curse is devouring the land, and its inhabitants are punished for their guilt. It is why those living there waste away, and the people left are few.

The covenant called for a curse if the law was broken. Revelation 16:8-9 tells us that, in the Tribulation, there will be a burning that ignites this planet. But when the scorching of the sun falls upon men, rather than repenting and humbling themselves before God, they’ll curse His name. The remnant theme is seen here in the fact that a few will survive.

7 The new wine fails, the vines wilt, all the reveler’s sigh, 8 the happy sound of tambourines ceases, the shouts of merrymakers are stilled, the joy of the lyre ends. 9 They no longer sing as they drink their wine; strong liquor tastes bitter to those drinking it.

God’s judgment brings joyful singing and drinking alcoholic beverages to an end. Both of these involved celebrations. Wine and beer were the two main types of alcoholic drinks in the ancient Near East.

10 The city of chaos is shattered; every house closed up; no one can enter.

The city of chaos is not a specific city. It represents evil men and women who are subject to God’s judgment.

11 In the streets they are crying over the wine; all joy has faded, cheer has left the land.

Wine production will decline, so the people will cry for wine but go unsatisfied. Wine is associated with joy and celebration; the judgment of God will bring such festivities to an end. Wine also blunts pain. This may be another reason the people will cry out for wine – because of the suffering that God’s judgment will produce.

12 In the city, only desolation, its gates are battered beyond repair. ~ Isaiah 24:1-12 (CJB)

Joy will have no place in the Tribulation period. At the beginning of the Tribulation, Revelation 6 tells us one-fourth of the world will be wiped out by war. Revelation 9 tells us one-third of those who remain will be wiped out by scorpions.

Why would a God of love do this? Because year after decade after generation, this God of love has been speaking to mankind – extending grace, love, and compassion. But humankind has, by and large, rejected it all. So God, in His wisdom, will pour out His wrath to shake up the world. Some who would not respond to grace and love will turn to the Lord in that day. But most will die in their sin.

In my next post, we will continue to explore The Lord’s Judgment of the Whole Earth ~ Pat 2 in Yesha’yahu 24:13-23.

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A Prophecy Against the Valley of Vision ~ Part 1 ~ Yesha’yahu 22:1-11

In my last post, we learned of A Prophecy Against Dumah and Arabia in Yesha’yahu 21:11-17. In this post, we learn of A Prophecy Against the Valley of Vision ~ Part 1 in Yesha’yahu 22:1-11.

1 A prophecy about the Valley of Vision: Tell me what is wrong with you, that you have all gone up on the roofs.

From later in the prophecy, it is clear that the Valley of Vision is a reference to Yerushalayim, even though this name is not used elsewhere of the city. It could be satirical; that is, the Valley of Vision was blind to the divine purpose. Or perhaps it could be a reference to Hinnom, where divinatory practices took place.

Gone up on the roofs may be a reference to divination or false worship. There is ample evidence in the prophetic books of Israelites burning incense on the roofs of their houses (Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5). It could also refer to their getting a better perspective on the withdrawal of a besieging army.

2 You city full of noise, confusion, and boisterous excitement, your slain did not fall to the sword, nor did they die in battle. 3 All your leaders fled together and were captured without the use of a bow; all from you who were found were captured, even though they had fled far away.

The inhabitants were jubilant because the attacking army had withdrawn from its siege. The reference to those who died apart from battle may be a reference to those who starved or contracted the disease during the siege.

From a historical perspective, the events of verses 2-3 occur during the 701 BCE campaign of Sennacherib. The Ashurim king led a massive army of mercenaries and conscripts from throughout his empire. During the invasion of Y’hudah, they will, according to Sennacherib’s Annals, “lay siege to forty-six fortified cities, walled forts, and countless villages.” King Hezekiah was bottled up in Yerushalayim“like a bird in a cage.” Any of his officials who attempted to escape and many were executed. [1]

4 This is why I said, “Don’t look at me, leave me alone to weep bitterly, don’t try to comfort me over the destruction of my people.”

Yesha’yahu did not share the joy of the city. After all, although the siege was lifted, people died.

5 For it is a day of panic, trampling, and confusion from Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot [the Lord God of Hosts] in the Valley of Vision. With walls crashing down, they cry for help to the mountains. 6 ‘Eilam picks up the quivers, with cavalry and horsemen, and Kir uncovers the shields.

‘Elam (located on the Iranian plateau east of Bavel) and Kir appear to have fought along with the Ashurim. There is no consensus on the exact location of the country of Kir. Because of its association with Aram in Amos 9:7, several attempts have been made to place it either in northern Syria or in the western desert (west of the Euphrates). Its mention here with ‘Elam also suggests proximity to that country east of the Tigris River.
7 In time, your choicest valleys Yerushalayim by chariots, and the cavalry take their posts by the gate; 8 thus is Y’hudah’s protection removed. That day you looked for the armor in the House of the Forest.

The House of the Forest is likely the same as the storehouse in the palace complex known as the House of the Forest of L’vanon (1 Kings 7:1-12). Weapons were stored there. The people should have been looking to God for help, but they put their trust in their weapons instead.

9 You saw how many breaches there were in the City of David; you collected water from the lower pool,

Based on the discovery of the Siloam Tunnel inscription, it seems clear that Hezekiah constructed a water tunnel over eighteen hundred feet long from inside the walls of Yerushalayim to the Gihon Spring in the Kidron Valley. In this way, he was able to ensure a safe and continuous water supply for Yerushalayim during the Ashurim siege. The lower pool was one of two reservoirs used to hold and channel water. It was designed to provide irrigation flow to the terraced areas along the slope of the Kidron Valley, and it eventually drained into the Pool of Shelah, modern Birket el-Hamra. [2]

10 you surveyed the houses in Yerushalayim, tearing some down to fortify the wall. 11 You also built a reservoir between the two walls for the water from the Old Pool, but you didn’t look to Him who made these things; you had no respect for Him who fashioned them long ago. ~ Isaiah 22:1-11 (CJB)

Refortifying the wall with construction materials taken from demolished homes and building an emergency reservoir within the city are taken again by the prophet as a sign of individual self-reliance. They should have been looking to God for help. After all, he was the One who created it long ago.

Are you putting your faith in God OR others and yourself?

In my next post, we will continue to learn about A Prophecy Against the Valley of Vision ~ Part 2 in Yesha’yahu 22:12-25.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary – Old Testament.

[2] Ibid.