Chapters 28-31 include 5 "woes". This chapter covers Woe 4.
Well...it doesn't take an ancient language to understand who He meant His woe for.
"Woe to the rebellious children," declares the Lord, "Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; who proceed down to Egypt, without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of the Pharaoh, and seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!Isaiah 30:1-2
Israel, the northern kingdom has fallen and the people have been carried off. So the only rebellious children left are the people of Judah. The king is making deals with Egypt and other foreign governments trying to gain protection. While this may sound like what any ruler should be doing, this ruler of Judah has almost direct access to the God of the universe, who has promised to protect Judah- IF they trust in Him alone.
But they don't. They don't trust in Him alone. They want to make sure things go there way, so they look for mechanisms to make it happen their way.
I know because my brain does this every time I have a problem..."What should I do to get the results I want?" Again, this makes sense on its surface; until you factor in the Maker of Heaven and Earth, sovereign King, Author and Finisher of my faith.
That should be the real default. Where my brain goes for a solution.
So why doesn't it? Why did Judah turn to Egypt? Why do I turn to the modern equivalent of Egypt in its many forms?
For the same reason Eve trusted the word of a serpent to that of the Lord via her husband... it's not that we just want help. We want help to make things turn out our own way. We don't trust that God will bring about the results we want.
Because He won't.
He's not an ATM machine.
He is not a genie in a bottle.
And He is not a God in our box.
He doesn't care what you think "your god" would do in a given situation.
He sees a big picture that we cannot even conceive of. His promises are Yes and Amen; but the provision is toward His plan, not yours. And when you are not proceeding toward His plan, you aren't being guided by His Spirit. There's no way that will turn out well for you, or me; and for not for this group in Judah.
Therefore the safety of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation.Isaiah 30:3
This verse makes me think of movies where some character sits and rests against a rock only to have the rock start moving, the perspective changes, and we see that they are actually resting against a sleeping monster- now stirred and angry at the character for disturbing them. When we choose the world (Egypt) we are, for all intents and purposes, trusting that more than we trust the Lord.
That sounds utterly ridiculous on its face.
But the desire to have our own way, get our desired results is strong in us. Doing what is right in our own eyes sounds like a reasonable approach to life. My way. My truth. My reality. We want our feelings to matter more than anything God may have planned for us and we'll run long and hard in hopes of getting what we think we want.
“The heart is deceitful above all things,Jeremiah 17:9-10, NKJV (Bible Gateway)
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
Blessedly, we serve a God that understands our heart, on a very personal level.
Back to Isaiah 30. Verses 4 and 5 expand on the shame and fruitlessness that will come from seeking these alliance.
The Ryrie footnote associates these verses with Hezekiah, which is disappointing because he is one of the few good kings. It's so easy to cheer the shame and defeat of the bad kings; but the goods ones were flawed and sinful as well.
The MacArthur Commentary states that it was Hezekiah's advisers recommending these alliances, while Isaiah was encouraging the opposite.
The Oracle Concerning the beasts of the Negev
This oracle starts in verse 6 through 18.
- Through a land of distress and anguish
- From the home of apex predators, such as lions, vipers, and flying serpents
- carrying all their riches on donkeys and camels to people who cannot profit them
- Egypt's help is vain and empty
Therefore, I have called her, "Rahab who has been exterminated."Isaiah 30:7b
I am confused by this sentence and may need the commentaries to explain it. Rahab wasn't exterminated; she is in the blood line of Jesus, so I'll need help with this one. (Rahab means Egypt, not the woman in Jericho.)
However, what is clear is that Judah (and all of us) often give great treasure to worldly "help" that won't, ultimately, help us. It can be obvious treasure like money given away to gambling, or in the form of lost health due to alcohol, food, or drugs. Or time lost that should have been given to family and community, but gets given to work or other idols.
Then God instructs Isaiah to capture the oracle in a stone tablet and on a scroll, as a witness for future generations. (verses 8-11)
- rebellious people
- false sons
- sons who refuse to listen to the Lord
- who wants the seers and prophets to only say pleasant things, no hard truths
- stop interfering with our plans with talk about the Holy One of Israel
In response to all of that rebellion and the demands for things to go their own way, the Holy One of Israel responds... (verses 12-17)
- you rejected the word
- you trusted and relied on oppression and guile
- iniquity will be upon you like a breach or bulge in a protective wall- ready to burst and fail
- everything will break into pieces so small, you couldn't even scoop water
Like all of the prophets warnings...this is very grim.
Sometimes He has to break us. And sometimes, He breaks our lives into tiny little pieces, because it is the only way to get our lives back into His plan, instead of the worldly plan we become fixed on.
As always, there is hope.
For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, "In repentance and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength."Isaiah 30:15a
I'd love to say the verse ends there. It would mean that Judah calmed down, learned their lesson, and turned to the Lord- gaining rest and strength.
Here's how that verse actually ends.
But you were not willing.Isaiah 30:15b
It is just mind boggling.
With repentance we get rest. In trusting God we get strength.
Such beautiful and necessary things we need.
And yet, sometimes we are offered that, but respond like Judah and we try and flee on horses, still trying to get our own way.
And Yet He is Faithful (Verses 18-26)
The last verse in the oracle shows the depths of the love of our Father, even when we've done it all wrong.
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are those who long for Him.Isaiah 30:18
There is that rest and strength we should have been pursuing all along.
It is never too late to turn to the Lord and abandon our own way.
Then we seem to shift to the future times.
- people of Zion and Jerusalem will no longer weep
- He will hear your cry and be gracious to you
- He will show Himself as our Teacher
- He will guide our ever step
- We will destroy and scatter our idols
- He will provide (water the seed for bread, food and pasture for our herds) Boy, we sure this fulfilled in current day Israel- a dead land has been reclaimed and is so prosperous.
- streams of running water
- defeat of the enemy
- the dark will turn to light and light to even brighter
- He will heal the bruises He inflicted
After this Millennial promise, Isaiah returns to the current conditions. (These may all be predictions of the fall of the enemy in the end times.
- The Lord is far off with His burning angry causing a dense smoke.
- His lips are filled with indignation.
- His tongue is a consuming fire
- His breath shakes the nations; bridling them to ruin
- I can't tell if verse 29 is speaking of false worship and insincere festivals, or if this is a ray of hope. (MacArthur states that this whole section is prophesy for the fall of Assyria. So this would be joyful festivals for God's people while the enemy sees punishment.)
- The voice of the Lord will be heard; His anger seen as fire and severe storms
Verses 31-33 seem to reference the punishment God will bring on Assyria- those He used to punish Judah's unfaithfulness.
- They will be terrified
- He will strike them with a rod
- music will play as they are punished (Jerusalem will be joyful while the enemy burns.)
- He will fight them with weapons
- He has a giant fire ready for them where people use to sacrifice to Molech. He will set it all on fire with His breath (place of abomination)
I assume this is the battle of Armageddon and the eventual punishment of evil in the fires of hell.
So, knowing we're susceptible to these same mistakes, we can we learn from this.
Stop and seek God's will. Commit to His plan, even if you get the feeling that He's not going to give you your own way.
It's better this way.