Skip to content

Isaiah 33

In the Ryrie Study Bible's outline of Isaiah, Chapter 27-35 are labeled as denunciations against Israel and Judah, with the subtitle of "woes and blessings". We've spent the last few chapters dealing mostly with Egypt; but the focus shifts to Assyria.

The chapter opens with a direct "woe" to Assyria. For destroying when not being attack, and dealing treacherously when not being treated that way. But now, when the job of destroying is done, they will be destroyed; and then others will deal treacherously with them. Ryrie notes that this refers to Sennacherib, king of Assyria; and notes II Kings 18:13-37 as a cross reference.

And the MacArthur Commentary points out that these prophesies of woes for Assyria are a stand in for anyone who comes against God's people.

In verse 2, Isaiah intercedes on behalf of his people.

O Lord, be gracious to us; we have waited for Thee. Be thou their strength every morning, our salvation also in the time of distress.

Isaiah 33:2

In the blessing portion is Isaiah description of what comes the Lord's victory over Assyrian.

  • people will flee and nations disperse (verse 3)
  • God gathers His spoil (Assyria) like caterpillars and locust destroying a crop, the men will rush about in destruction. (verse 4)

The Lord is exalted for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.

Isaiah 33:5

Hallelujah! Hope for tomorrow!

The blessing goes on to remind us that

  • He shall be the stability of your times
  • a wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge
  • the fear of the Lord is his treasure (in Warren Wiersbe's Isaiah commentary, Be Comforted, he points out that Hezekiah tried to "show off" his treasure to seem strong; but it only made him a target for his enemy. The fear of the Lord is our treasure. Not whatever worldly provisions we've tried to make for ourselves.)

In the meantime, with Jerusalem surrounded by Assyria, it looks bleak:

  • their brave men cry in the streets (there is no military solution to defeat the Assyrians)
  • ambassadors of peace weep bitterly (there is no diplomatic solution to defeat the Assyrians)
  • highways are desolate with no one traveling (all travel is cut off to the outside world)
  • He has broken the covenant, he has despised the cities, he has no regard for man
  • the land mourns and pines (another example of the land personified!)
  • Lebanon is shamed and withers (all of the lush fertility has been laid waste)
  • Sharon is like a desert plain
  • Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage

But God. Things are grim. But God.

When Judah is at the end of herself and has no recourse, the Lord will arise in a way that only He will be given credit.

Now I will arise, says the Lord, Now I will be exalted, now I will be lifted up.

Isaiah 33:10

It's interesting to ponder what the Lord means in verse 10. Theologically, I would guess that the Lord is always exalted. But the wording in verse 10 makes me think He allowed Himself to be something other than exalted while Assyria was destroying His people, as a necessary time of judgement. It reminds me of Philippians explaining that Jesus was humiliated so that He could be obedient to the Lord in becoming our righteousness, only to be exalted above every other name.

He goes on to describe the woes to Assyria.

  • you have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble (they thought they had a great plan to take Jerusalem, but it would birth stubble and be burned up.)
  • My breath will consume you like a fire
  • the people burned to lime
  • like thorns burned in the fire

Those sinning in Zion are starting to understand. They are terrified.The godless are trembling. Considering the endless fire.

This terror from verse 14 is a stark contrast with verses 15 and 16. Those walking and speaking in righteousness reject unjust gain, takes no bribe, careful what he listens to and sees. He will be give a high dwelling place, refuge, food, and water.

In verse 17-24 Assyria gets a description of God's Kingdom that they will see from a distance.

  • beautiful kingdom
  • far distant land
  • your heart will meditate on terror (yikes)
  • you will lose all of the people who helps terrorize those you oppress.
  • you won't see your people as fierce
  • they will, instead stammer and speak unintelligibly
  • meanwhile you'll Zion in her feasts, at peace
  • perpetually celebrating
  • the Lord will be ever present
  • endless water not to be used against them

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King, He will save us--

Isaiah 33:22

The final description of Assyria's woes in this chapter:

  • your tackle hangs slack
  • it cannot the mast
  • or spread the sail
  • your spoil will be divided and even the lame will take plunder
  • no resident will be sick
  • their iniquity will be forgiven.

I'm, actually, not feeling great today. Fighting a bug. So I don't have a nuanced conclusion from this chapter. However, I do see an overarching message here of hope. Hope for all of God's people.

My husband and I are reading through the New Testament each morning and are currently in the later chapters of Acts, where Paul is being beaten by the Council and the mob. At every turn God is his Defender and uses people (mostly non-believers) to save him and move God's Word forward.

It's painful to watch. It often looks like defeat; but it's victory in God's plan.

Both in this chapter of Isaiah and in Paul's journey the word is HOPE. We have hope that even when it seems like battles are lost, the war is won. And His will WILL be done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *