Study Notes

Isaiah 30-31


In chapter 29, God rebuked the Jews for being far from Him even while remaining steadfast in their traditional religious observance. As a result, God was going to bring judgment down upon Jerusalem.

We pick up at the beginning of chapter 30...

30:1-5 The Plan

This is the fourth of six woes in this section of Isaiah (chapters 28-35). You may recall that back in chapter five we learned "woe" is an interjection meaning "alas," basically communicating, "You are going to suffer horribly, 'cause you're in big trouble."

This woe is pronounced upon the Jews, whom God calls "rebellious children." You see, the Jews in Jerusalem knew that the Assyrians were conquering up north, and figured it was only a matter of time before they came south to their land. They had come up with a plan, but it didn't involve relying on God, or repenting to God.

The plan was a good one, at least in the world's eyes. They had sent ambassadors and princes down to Egypt with a large caravan of donkeys and camels carrying riches and treasures. They were going with the intention of establishing a diplomatic alliance between Judah and Egypt.

Interestingly, God saw that they were going to TSO-an and KhawNACE. It made sense, but it was also very ironic. You see, TSO-awn means "grace has fled," and Khaw-NACE means "place of departure."

The Safety Of Pharaoh

As we have covered in recent studies, the plan would be successful, but the alliance would ultimately be a failure, for the Egyptians would prove to be unreliable allies. God tells them that the safety of Pharaoh will be their shame - Egypt will not be able to profit them.

30:6-7 Oracle Of Beasts

The ambassadors' caravan had not taken the easy road. The established trade route through Philistia was much better traveled, but that was the problem. This was a secret mission, and they didn't want the traders bringing word to the king of Assyria that they had gone to Egypt. So instead, they took a more direct and dangerous route - through the NEH-gheb, which is directly south of Judah.

In the NEH-gheb, windstorms would sweep in unexpectedly (Isa. 21:1), and the forests (Eze. 20:46) were full of dangerous animals. It is described here as a land of distress and anguish, with lions and poisonous reptiles.

They traveled through this dangerous place full of wild beasts to get to what they thought was the most powerful beast to have as an ally: Rahab. Rahab was the name of an Egyptian water dragon, and Egypt had come to be called by its name (Psa. 87:4). But God says that Egypt's help is vain and empty. He said, "I've exterminated Rahab."

30:8 The Witness Of Prophecy

God tells Isaiah to write down this vision. To let everybody know that this secret plan had been seen by the Lord, down to the last detail, and especially its outcome. With the prophecy before the people, they would have no excuse when it came to pass in precision fulfillment.

People find it very easy to argue with statements in the Word of God. "How do you know Jesus is the only way?" "Why should I believe these miraculous stories or those narrow-minded commandments?" The answer is prophecy. Prophecy proves that the Word of God is inspired. Because you can't argue with the fact that Scriptures with detailed accounts were circulated world-wide before those events took place.

Simon Peter, after testifying that he was an eyewitness to Jesus' glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, pointed out that more sure than his word was the prophetic Word of God (2Pet. 1:16-21).

And prophecy isn't just a witness for God, it will one day serve as a witness against those who refused to listen to it...

30:9-11 We Don't Want The Word

The Jews had gotten fed up with hearing God's Word being spoken through the seers and the prophets. They told them, "You're not allowed to see visions anymore, you're not allowed to prophesy to us anymore." They absolutely refused to listen.

A guy in our church e-mailed me yesterday (9/28/2005) and said that the Bible study he conducts for a group at his work in the break room has come under fire from some co-workers. They have gone to the management to get it shut down. Of course, profanity and sexually immoral talk take place in the break room constantly, but that's not nearly as offensive as a group of people reading their Bibles!

When people are rebellious against God, it's not enough that they reject His Word. They also try to silence those who speak it as well. They say, "Let us hear no more about God."

30:12-14 Collapse For Rejection

The Lord's response to their rebellion and rejection is clear: Judah will fall. Ultimately, even Jerusalem will be desolate.

30:15-17 The Price Of Refusing

God had said to them time and again, "I can save you. I want to save you. All you need to do is repent of your sin and rest in Me." But they refused to trust Him, and continued to make plans. Plans of diplomatic protection, and escape plans. Instead of repenting and relying on God, they had their exit plan in place. The rich and influential people had fast horses that they would gallop away on if the enemy got too close. God tells them, "Oh, you'll be riding fast alright. But I will make your enemies chase you, and I'll make sure their horses are faster! Your people will panic, and ultimately, Jerusalem will be a big empty place."

30:18 The Lord Longs To Be Gracious

The Lord longs to be gracious to His people. Through the prophet Ezekiel, He said,

Ezek. 18:32 “...I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

And Peter told us that God is...

2Pet. 3:9 ...not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

He is waiting for the day when His people turn back to Him. It will be glorious...

30:19-33 When You Repent

God has shown Isaiah the day when His people will repent. They will repent for their idolatry, for the rejection of His Word, and their rejection of His Son Jesus Christ.

They will cry out to Him and He will answer them. On that day, He will make Himself known, and He Himself will be their teacher. But before He teaches them, there is some major house-cleaning to do...

The Day Of The Great Slaughter

There will be a great slaughter on that day. John told us about it in the book of Revelation:

Rev. 19:11-21 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

Streams Running

On that day, there will be something strange happening with the sun and moon. Zechariah 14 tells us,

Zech. 14:6-7 In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. For it will be a unique day which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.

When the slaughter is over, the moon and sun will be restored to their former brightness, and things will be good, for Jesus will be king over all the earth. He will gather His people to Him from all over the earth and heal their wounds - both physical and spiritual.

Zechariah 14 also tells us that on that day, streams will run from Jerusalem...

Zech. 14:8 And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea...

The eastern sea is the Dead Sea, and the western sea is the Mediterranean. These living waters will make desert land into pastures all the way over to Ash-kel-ONE on the Mediterranean coast:

Zeph. 2:6-7 So the seacoast will be pastures, with caves for shepherds and folds for flocks. And the coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah, they will pasture on it. In the houses of Ash-kel-ONE they will lie down at evening; For the LORD their God will care for them and restore their fortune.

Go To The Mountain

When the Lord reigns as king, the mountain of God will be accessible. Anyone will be able to say,

Mic. 4:2 ...“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

After hearing all these things in store for the future, you'd think the people of Isaiah's day would get some perspective. Egypt can't help them like God can. Even if Egypt could protect them with horses and chariots, they certainly can't make living waters flow from Jerusalem!

But still they do not repent, and so God pronounces the fifth woe...

31:1-9 Woe To Those Who Trust In Egypt

If only they had the heart of their forefather King David, who wrote,

Psa. 20:6-9 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright. Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call.

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