“‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the Lord, ‘Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!”
Isaiah condemns Judah for seeking help from Egypt, whose help is vain and empty, instead of the Lord. The people do not want to hear the truth from the word of the Lord. They only want to hear what aligns with their own personal feelings and beliefs; therefore, judgment is upon them – “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.’ Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: ‘Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perversity, and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.”
The Lord tells His people, “‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not.” However, because the Lord is gracious, He will wait for them to cry out to Him – “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.”
The Lord explains that hope is found in Him, not man. But since Judah relied upon Egypt for protection from Assyria instead of the Lord, He will shatter both Judah and Egypt – “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, both he who helps will fall, and he who is helped will fall down; they all will perish together.” However, there is always hope for the one that turns to the Lord. Therefore, the Lord calls His people to return to Him – “Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves. Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, and a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall become forced labor.” And this is exactly what the Lord will do. He is going to defeat the Assyrians in His divine way, which we will read about soon in the Story (2 Kings 19:35).
Isaiah speaks of a king who will reign in righteousness. Commentaries believe Isaiah is referring to the faithful King Hezekiah who is sitting on the throne in Judah, who is a picture of the coming King, King Jesus- “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen. Also the heart of the rash will understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers will be ready to speak plainly.”
The Lord mentions a time when the Holy Spirit will be poured upon His people making what was once dead, fruitful – “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” After Jesus completes the works of salvation and ascends to heaven at the right hand of His Father, He will pour the Holy Spirit upon His people. Our righteousness is found in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are fruitful to the Kingdom of God; by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can have peace beyond understanding.
We end the reading with a word of hope for Jerusalem. In the midst of the threat of the invasion by Assyria, the Lord says He will save Jerusalem- “Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; your eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down; not one of its stakes will ever be removed, nor will any of its cords be broken. But there the majestic Lord will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams, in which no galley with oars will sail, nor majestic ships pass by (For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King; He will save us); your tackle is loosed, they could not strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail. Then the prey of great plunder is divided; the lame take the prey. And the inhabitant will not say, ‘I am sick’; the people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity.”
The greatest gift the Lord gives is not merely being saved from external enemies; it is the forgiveness of iniquity and the gift of eternal salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Tomorrow we will hear more from the prophets Isaiah and Micah, so keep reading.