Offer and Refusal

Isaiah  30:15-17. “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning and rest shall ye be saved: in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift: therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one: at the rebuke of five shall ye flee; till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.”

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God, still offering forgiveness and mercy, tries one more time. He tells Judah that they need not fear their enemies if only they will return to Him, but they refuse.

“We’ll run away on fast horses,” they insist.  And God replies, “One man will chase five of you, and five of your enemies will chase all of you until what remains of you will be like a single pine tree on top of a mountain, or a single flag on a hilltop.”

How foolish we are to refuse God’s offer of confidence, quietness, rest, and strength; instead we trust our own abilities to take care of ourselves.  As that famous TV shrink would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?”

 

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Nothing Left

Isaiah 30: 12-14. ” Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this Word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:  Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And He shall break it as the breaking of the potter’s vessel that is broken in pieces: He shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.”

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Wherefore is like Because.  It joins what is about to be said with what has already been said.

Judah had scorned God, scorned His prophet, scorned His Word.  Their iniquity (sin) would be like a wall that has been breached, and would fall upon them so fast and so completely that there wouldn’t be much left but dust.  Not a scrap big enough to carry a hot coal, or to bring water up from a well, would survive the destruction.

This prophecy was fulfilled when the Babylonians, and later the Romans, laid siege to Jerusalem, leaving it a heap of dust.  It was not the Assyrian invasion of ch. 36:1-27, but the ruin of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar ( 2 Kings 25) and no doubt also the one  by the Romans in 70 a.d. (Matt. 24:2; Luke 21: 20-23).  No such complete destruction was made by the Assyrians as by the Babylonians and then Rome.

Sins of Judah

Isaiah 30:8-11. “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

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God told Isaiah to write a permanent record of the stubbornness, rebellion, and sins of Judah. He listed seven specific sins:

  1. Rebellion against God
  2.  Liars
  3.  Refuse to hear the Law of God
  4.  They tell the seers not to see
  5.  They tell the prophets not to prophesy
  6.  They despise the Word of God.
  7. They trust in oppression and perversity, and depend upon it.

The people of Judah told their prophets to tell them only “smooth” things, and I am reminded again of how we who call ourselves Christians  tip-toe around words that aren’t “smooth.”  We don’t like to say sin, Satan, hell, judgment.  Instead we say mistakes, The Enemy,  loss, and “don’t judge.”

The world has succeeded in removing the Blood of Jesus from the public arena, calling it too gory, while every violent video game splashes blood around as if it were water.

Preachers, you need to honor your calling and say the truth. You have a responsibility to NOT sugar-coat God’s message. Those of us sitting in the pews need to respect the straight teaching of God’s Word, never criticizing it for being too harsh when it is what God has said.

All this didn’t work out too well for Judah.  It won’t work for us, either.

 

Useless Gifts

Isaiah 30: 6-8. ” The burden of the beasts of the south: Into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches  of camels, to a people that shall not profit them. For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.”

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In the effort to recruit Egypt to their side against the Babylonians, Judah sent a caravan of  animals bearing gifts for Egypt. into “the land of trouble and anguish.”  When Nebuchadnezzar came against Egypt, it became indeed a land of trouble and anguish, and was unable to help Judah.

The irony of the next two verses is inescapable.  Judah was willing to send caravans of gifts into a land full of old and young lions, vipers, and fiery flying serpents.  That doesn’t sound too inviting, and after all that risk, Egypt refused to help.  All that, when they could simply have turned to God. No risk, no gifts needed, no frightening animals to avoid.

The vipers probably refer to a snake common in Arab lands, about two feet long and as thick as a man’s arm. They have a wide mouth, which they use to draw in a lot of air. When inflated, they eject the air with such force that the sound can be heard a great distance. They are extremely poisonous.  Makes me think of some politicians.

The fiery flying serpents  seem to fly from tree to tree, and even dart upon their prey to sting with a deadly blow. They are termed fiery because of the strength of their venom.

“Their strength is to sit still” could also be translated, Rahab, do nothing; or, Dragon, sit still–implying that Egypt would be of no help to Judah.

No Alliance

Isaiah 30:3-5. “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes. They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.”

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The results of Judah’s false trust in man would be shame, confusion, lack of profitable relationship, reproach, vain hopes, purposeless.  Egypt had no interest in helping Judah. They certainly did not want to be considered Judah’s ally when enemy troops came thundering through the land.  They were ashamed at the possibility of being allied with a people who could be no profit to them, and would only bring them reproach.

When we turn our backs on God, we tend to think we’ll be accepted by the world. Usually, just the opposite is true. Even godless people have no respect for those who desert the God they say they serve.

Sins of Judah

Isaiah 30: 1-2. ” Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me: and that cover with a covering, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at My mouth, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!”

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Verses 1-17 of this chapter have been fulfilled.  Verses 18-33 remain to be fulfilled.

Judah  just keeps turning her back on God, hoping to find “covering” (protection) in Egypt,  the enemy of old that kept their ancestors enslaved for 400 years. They took  counsel from Egypt, but not from God.

Adding sin unto sin:  Sin can rarely stand alone. It requires another sin to cover it up, or to bring it to fruition.  Sin always takes you farther than you intended to go. It grabs you like a whirlpool grabs a piece of wood, taking it slow and easy at the top, but spiraling downward faster and faster until there is no escape.

Judah was like that piece of wood, always looking for protection and alliance, and finding nothing but despair.

When people refuse God and look to man for redemption, the result is always, always dire.  Always.

The Holy One of Jacob

Isaiah 29:22-24.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord, Who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My Name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”

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These verses continue the Millennial prophecy. When Messiah sets up His kingdom on earth, Jacob (Israel) will  no longer deny Him. It is important to note in v. 22 that God redeemed Abraham by faith, just as He has redeemed every believer throughout history.

The promises in these verses have never yet been completely fulfilled, but in the Millennial Kingdom, they will be. There will never again be reason for Israel to fear; they will recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah; and those who refused to understand, those who murmured against Jesus, will learn and accept the doctrines of Jesus Christ.