ch. 28

 

 

vs. 1-4 - A WARNING TO SAMARIA. The prophet has now cast his

eagle glance over the whole world and over all time. He has denounced

woe upon all the principal nations of the earth (Isaiah 13-23.), glanced at

the destruction of the world itself (Isaiah 24:17-20), and sung songs

over the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, and the ingathering of the

nations into it (Isaiah 25-27.). In the present chapter he returns to the

condition of things in his own time and among his own people. After a

brief warning, addressed to Samaria, he turns to consider the condition of

Judah, which he accuses of following the example of Samaria, of perishing

through self-indulgence and lack of knowledge (vs. 7-12). He then

proceeds to expostulate seriously with the “rulers of Jerusalem,” on whom

lies the chief responsibility for its future.

 

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v. 1 – “Woe…crown of pride….drunkards of Ephraim,” or of the ten

            tribes, were at once intoxicated with wine (Amos 4:1; 6:6 “and

                are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph) and with pride (Amos 6:13).

 

"whose glorious beauty is a fading flower" -The “glorious beauty” of

Samaria was a beauty of magnificent luxury. “Summer” and “winter

houses,” distinct each from the other (Amos 3:15); “ivory palaces”

(1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15); a wealth of “gardens, vineyards, fig-orchards,

and olive yards” (Amos 4:9); residences of “hewn stone” (Amos 5:11);

feasts enlivened with “the melody of viols” (Amos 5:23); “beds of ivory”

(Amos 6:4); “wine in bowls” (Amos. 6:6); “chief ointments” (Amos 6:6);

constituted a total of luxurious refinement beyond which few had

proceeded at the time.

 

v. 2 – “the Lord hath a mighty and strong one” - God has in reserve a

mighty power, which He will let loose upon Samaria. The wicked are “His

sword” (Psalm 17:13), and are employed to carry out His sentences. In

the present ease the “mighty and strong one” is the Assyrian power – “as a

tempest of hail - the fearfully devastating force of an Assyrian

invasion is set forth under three distinct images — a hailstorm, a furious

tempest of wind, and a violent inundation — as though so only could its

full horror be depicted. War is always a horrible scourge; but in ancient

times, and with a people so cruel as the Assyrians, it was a calamity

exceeding in terribleness the utmost that the modern reader can conceive.

It involved the wholesale burning of cities and villages, the wanton

destruction of trees and crops, the slaughter of thousands in battles and

sieges, the subsequent massacre of hundreds in cold blood, the plunder of

all classes, and the deportation of tens of thousands of captives, who were

carried into hopeless servitude in a strange land.

 

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vs. 3-4 – ditto – a repetition of vs. 1-2

 

vs. 5-6 – THE FALL OF SAMARIA COINCIDENT WITH AN

OFFER OF FAVOR TO JUDAH. Her sister’s fate was the most powerful

of all possible warnings to Judah against treading in her steps. Samaria had

perished through want of faith in Jehovah. She had turned to other gods;

she had trusted in her own “glory” and “beauty;” and she had trusted in

Egypt. If Judah would do the exact opposite, she might be saved. If she

would take Jehovah for her “Crown of glory” and “Diadem of beauty,”

He was willing to be so taken. He was willing to impart a “spirit of judgment

to her rulers, and “strength” to her armed force.  (America sure could

profit from this offer and get a “dose or two”!  CY – 2009)

 

“In that day shall the Lord of hosts be-  This is an offer,

and something more than an offer. It is implied that, to some extent, the

offer would be accepted. And clearly the closing of the clouds around

Samaria (Ephraim) was coincident with the dawn of a brighter day in Judah.

Hezekiah came to the throne only three years before the fatal siege of Samaria

began. His accession must have been nearly contemporaneous with that

expedition of Shal-maneser against Hoshea, when he “shut him up, and bound

him in prison” (2 Kings 17:4). Yet he was not daunted by his neighbor’s peril.

He began his reign with a political revolution and a religious reformation.

He threw off the yoke of Assyria, to which his father had submitted (2

Kings 18:7), and he cleared the land of idols and idol-worship. It was the

dawn of a day of promise, such as the prophet seems to point to in these

two verses. Unhappily, the dawn was soon clouded over (vs. 7-9) – “the

residue of His people” – i.e.  Judah. All admit that “they also,” in v. 7,

refers to Judah, and Judah only; but the sole antecedent to “they also” is

this mention of the residue of God’s people.

 

for a spirit of judgment” - How far Judah had departed from

the spirit of just judgment was made apparent in the very opening chapter

of Isaiah’s prophecy (vs. 15-27) – “to him that sitteth in judgment

rather, that sitteth on the judgment-seat (Cheyne). for strength to them

that turn the battle to the gate” - i.e. “to those who repulse an enemy, and

drive him back to his own city’s gate” (2 Kings 18:8, “He smote

the Philistines, even unto Gaza “).

 

 

 

Vs. 7-10 - JUDAH’S SINFULNESS - The reformation effected by

Hezekiah was but a half-reformation. It put away idolatry, but it left

untouched a variety of moral evils, as:

 

Drunkenness. Judah was no whit behind Ephraim in respect of this vice.

The very priests and “prophets” gave way to the disgusting habit, and came

drunk to the most solemn functions of religious teaching and hearing

causes.

 

 Scorn and mockery of God’s true prophets. The teaching of Isaiah was

made light of by the officials of the priestly and prophetic orders, who

claimed to be quite as competent to instruct men in their duties as himself.

They seem to have ridiculed the mode of his teaching — its catch-words,

as they thought them, and its insistence on minutiae.

 

 

v. 7 - "they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink

            are out of the way.....they err in vision, they stumble in judgment"

 

The verbs express the physical effects of intoxication.

 

the priest and the prophet”  - Priests were forbidden by the law to

drink any wine or strong drink previously to their taking part in

the service of the tabernacle – on penalty of death (Leviticus 10:9)

 

"Where there is no vision the people perish" – Proverbs 29:18

 

v. 9 – “Whom shall he teach knowledge? -A sudden and abrupt transition.

The best explanation seems to be that suggested by Jerome, and followed by

Bishop Lowth and most commentators, viz. that the prophet dramatically

introduces his adversaries as replying to him with taunting speeches.

“Whom does he think he is teaching?” they ask. “Mere children, just

weaned from their mother’s milk, and taken away from the breast? Does he

forget that we are grown men — nay, priests and prophets? And what poor

teaching it is! What ‘endless petty teasing’!  -“precept upon precept, line

upon line” - The intention is to throw ridicule upon the smallness and

vexatious character of the prophet’s interminable and uninterrupted

chidings. knowledge... doctrine - Technical terms in Isaiah’s

teaching, which his adversaries seem to have ridiculed as “catch-words.”

The term translated “doctrine” means properly “tidings,” and involves the

idea that the prophet obtained the teaching so designated by DIRECT

REVELATION FROM GOD!

 

 

 

 

vs. 10,13 -. A teaching which seemed to them narrow, childish

            and wearisome under which they chafed and fretted and

            at last rebelled but only to be “snared and taken

 

vs. 11-13 - JUDAH’S PUNISHMENT. God will retort on the Jews

their scorn of His prophet, and, as they will not be taught by his utterances,

which they find to be childish and unrefined, will teach them by utterances

still more unrefined — those of the Assyrians, which will be quite as

monotonous and quite as full of minutiae as Isaiah’s.  (I remember a

former pastor, Bro. Howard Prather, in the 1960’s at Oak Hill Baptist Church,

Somerset, KY saying that “plain words are easily understood” – CY – 2009)

 

IF MEN CANNOT UNDERSTAND OR APPRECIATE PLAIN WORDS,

AS GOD USED TO SEND TO HIS PEOPLE, THEN:

 

v. 11 - The Assyrians will do the job but “with stammering lips and

            another tongue” – The Assyrian language, though a Semitic idiom

            nearly allied to Hebrew, was sufficiently different to sound in the ears

            of a Jew like his own tongue mispronounced and barbarized.

 

v. 12  - God had from remote times offered to His people

            a "rest" - a refreshing life of ease and peace in

            Palestine but on condition of serving Him faithfully  -

            see Deut. 28:1-14 - they rejected this rest and refused

            to observe the condition on which it was promisted -

            Deut. 28:15-68

 

vs. 14-22 - THE REBUKE OF JUDAH’S NOBLES. The power of

the nobles under the later Jewish monarchy is very apparent throughout

Isaiah’s prophecy. It is they, and not the king, who are always blamed for

bad government (Isaiah 1:10-23; 3:12-15) or errors of policy

(Isaiah 9:15, 16; 22:15-19). Isaiah now turns from a denunciation

of the priests and prophets, who especially opposed his teaching, to a

threatening of the great men who guided the course of public affairs. He

taxes them with being “men of scorn” (v. 14), i.e. scorners of Jehovah,

and with” a proud and insolent self-confidence”. They have made, or are

about to make, secret arrangements which will, they believe, secure Judaea

against suffering injury at the hands of the Assyrians, and are quite satisfied

with what they have done, and fear no evil. Isaiah is instructed that their

boasted arrangements will entirely fail in the time of trial — their “refuge”

(Egypt) will be found a refuge of lies (v. 15), and the “overflowing scourge”

(Assyria) will pass through the land, and carry all before it (v. 18). There will

then ensue a time of “vexation” and discomfort (vs. 19, 20) — God’s anger

will be poured out upon the land in strange ways (v. 21). He therefore warns

the rulers to lay aside their scorn of God, and humble themselves, lest a worse

thing happen to them (v. 22).

 

 

v. 14 – So with the “scorners”whose mental pride has puffed them up, God

            can abase them in a moment by mental disease, brain-softening,

            paralysis, sense of depression, disgust with life. How the bald atheist      

            trembles, and wishes that he could retract his daring speeches, when

            he is struck down by sickness, crippled, bedridden, palsied perhaps.

            God does not always launch His bolts in this life; but He can at any

            time do so, and He does it with sufficient frequency to leave men

            without excuse if they do not note, and profit, by His warnings.

 

 

v. 15 - "We have made A COVENANT WITH DEATH  and WITH HELL

            ARE WE AT AGREEMENT.....we have made LIES OUR REFUGE,

            and UNDER FALSEHOOD HAVE WE HID OURSELVES" – the

            words are a boast, that they have provided for their own safety

            by some secret agreement??????

 

vs. 16-17 – “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a

            foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a SURE

            foundation:  he that believeth shall not make haste” – (not be

            ashamed)

           

 

CHRIST IS THAT TRUE ROCK  - In contrast with the insecure refuge

and false ground of confidence whereon the nobles relied, the prophet puts

forward THE ONE SURE “ROCK” on which complete dependence may be

placed

 

“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet:”

- the execution of justice and judgment will be with all strictness and

exactness.

 

v. 18 - cleverness come to naught – God taking man in his own craftiness –

            I Corinthians 1:19, 3:19

 

v. 19 - "it shall be a vexation only to understand the

            report" - when a man's ways come home to him  -

            a la - I Kings 22:25 –

 

Rather, it will be sheer terror to understand the doctrine. There is an allusion

to v. 9.  They had thought scorn of Isaiah’s “doctrine,” when he taught it

them by word of mouth; they will understand it but too well, and find it”

nothing but a terror,” when it is impressed on them by the preaching of facts.

 

v. 20 - We have a proverb, “As a man makes his bed, so must he lie in it.”

            The Jews will have made themselves a bed in which they can have

            NO COMFORT, NO EAST, and consequently NO REST. But they

            will only have themselves to blame for it.

 

v. 21b - God working against His people  - a strange act but

            the people exhibited strange conduct - they had become as it

            were Philistines, as He had warned in Deuteronomy 7:1-6!

 

v. 22 – “be ye not mockers (God is not mocked – Galatians 6:7-8), lest

            your bands me made strong:  (the chains of habit are not usually

            felt until they are to strong to be broken)  …..from the Lord God

            of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the WHOLE

            EARTH”

 

CALAMITY SWOOPS DOWN AT LAST. Even if no special

judgment is sent to punish the scorner, there arrives at last of necessity the

time of old age, weakness, weariness; there arrives at last death; and, some

time before death, the fear of death. The scorner must go to that God

whose message he has scorned, whose messengers he has treated with

contempt and contumely. “A consummation is decreed.” - He must “fall into

the hands of the living God!” Then the folly of that “brave” conduct on

which he prided himself becomes apparent, and he would fain retract his

old speeches, and submit himself, and make his peace. But the words

addressed to scorners (Proverbs 1:22) sound in his ears and hold him

back: Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my

hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and

would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock

when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your

destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon

you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me

early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not

choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised

all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and

be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall

slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Proverbs 1:24-32)

 

vs. 23-29. — A PARABLE TO COMFORT BELIEVERS. Isaiah is always

careful to intermingle promises with his threats, comfort with his denunciations.

Like his great Master, of whom he prophesied, he was fain not to “break the

bruised reed” or “quench the smoking flax.” When he had searched men’s wounds

with the probe, he was careful to pour in oil and wine. So now, having denounced

the sinners of Judah through three long paragraphs (vs. 7-22), he has a word of

consolation and encouragement for the better disposed, whose hearts he hopes to

have touched and stirred by his warning. This consolation he puts in a parabolic

form, leaving it to their spiritual insight (through the leadership of the Holy Spirit,

to discover the meaning.

 

vs. 28-29 - God's working - afflictions sent to His people are

            adapted to detach the good seed from the husks - not

            to crush or injure - Jesus would not "break the bruised

            reed nor quench the smoking flax" - then "is bread corn

            bruised?" - no is the answer in meaning of original

 

God's working is similar to the thresher.

 

DIFFICULTIES are a call for us to use the utmost intellect which

God has given us - not an excuse for PUSHING REASON FROM

ITS SEAT and RUSHING, THROUGH STRONG DRINK, INTO

CALAMITY!