Isaiah 9:8-10. “The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.”
This passage begins a section that takes us through to chapter 10:4. After the wonderful promises of vv. 6-7, God speaks further denunciations of evil and warnings of impending judgments. The people had to be reminded that the promises of vv. 6-7 would not be fulfilled until things grew so bad that there seemed no hope at all of help and deliverance.
The reference to Ephraim, in this context, refers to all of Israel.They were guilty of persistent hardness of heart. Even after the failure of their alliance with with Syria, there was no repentance. They looked at the destruction and said, “Well, sure, the bricks have been taken apart, but WE will rebuild with stone hewn out of the quarry. We will replace the sycomore trees with cedars.”
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that suffering under the hands of Syria and Assyria would have brought them to some semblance of humility before God? Not yet. They had to suffer more, a lot more, before they turned back to God.