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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Isaiah 28

Verses 1-29

Chapter 28

Chapter 28. Now the prophet turns to the local present issues. He is now... he's gone off down the road to the end of things. Now he comes back and he begins to speak of the Northern Kingdom, the major tribe was Ephraim there in the Northern Kingdom. And so the nation of Israel is addressed as Ephraim, its major tribe.

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet ( Isaiah 28:1-3 ):

So Isaiah is here predicting the invasion of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria. The Northern Kingdom was filled with pride. The Northern Kingdom was filled with prosperity. The fat valleys. The Northern Kingdom was filled with a careless attitude as people were seeking mirth and merriment and pleasure, rather than God, and judgment was hanging over their heads. And yet they were giving themselves just to drunkenness. Here they were standing in a critical place in their history. They're about to be devoured by their enemies. The nation is at the end of the road. They're not going to go any further. And yet the attitude of the people is not a serious attitude of repentance towards God and seeking God, but it is an attitude of just seeking pleasure and just drinking and trying not to think of the heavy judgment that was hanging over them.

It seems that people are always oblivious. That is, the general public is oblivious, though doom is hanging over it. And so it will be when Jesus comes. Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man" ( Luke 17:26 ). For the days of Noah, the people were just eating, drinking, the same thing of just going on and pretending like there's nothing wrong. Not realizing that the judgment of God is hanging over them and they're about to be destroyed. Right until the day that Noah went into the ark, the people were going on with just things as usual, drinking and partying and the whole thing. Until Noah was in the ark and it began to rain. And suddenly they woke up. But then it was too late.

Now here is Ephraim. Judgment is hanging over them but they're going on in drunkenness. In their pride and all. And not until Sennacherib comes down with the Assyrian forces, and then it's too late.

We look at the world today and we see people that are just so oblivious to the impending judgment of God that is hanging over the world today. We see all of these forces of evil. We see people so outspoken with their evil, so brazen in their display of evil. Things that people used to be ashamed of and would seek to deny or hide from, now they are parading in the streets with banners. Advertising their sin. And we are ripening towards judgment. And the heavy hand of God is hanging over us and God's judgment is about to fall. And yet people seem to be totally oblivious to it. Going on seeking pleasure. Going on in their pride. And seeking the prosperity not realizing that suddenly it's going to come and God's judgment is going to strike.

So the sad picture of Ephraim and the prophet speaks out against it. Ephraim's going to be trodden underfoot. And within three years from the time of this prophecy it happened. The great and glorious nation that God had favored and blessed was destroyed. And I really feel that the United States is in much the same position. A great and glorious nation which has been blessed of God, but I believe that the heavy cloud of God's wrath hangs over us because of the things that we have allowed and promoted in this land. And it speaks of

The glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. In that day the LORD of hosts will be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people ( Isaiah 28:4-5 ),

But here they were glorying in the crown of glory of the fat valleys and so forth, but they're going to be wiped out. Now even those that were being warned by the prophet just made fun of the prophet.

But they also have erred through wine, and through the strong drink they have gone out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in their vision, they stumble in their judgment ( Isaiah 28:7 ).

And God speaks out against the drinking and how it has perverted their minds. Deadened and dulled their senses. And has turned them out of their way bringing them into error. Causing them to err in their vision and in their judgment. Drinking, it seems, always clouds a person's vision and actually destroys good judgment. Destroys your inhibitions. People do the dumbest things when they're drunk. Things that they would never do when they were sober. But it just always messes up your judgment.

You don't have good judgment when you're drinking. And we recognize that. Our laws recognize that. That's why we have laws that you're not to drive when you've been drinking because it messes up your vision. It messes up your judgment. And yet, here the people were they were giving themselves over to this. Messing up their lives. And God's heavy hand when you need to have clear insight, when you really need to see what's going on, you can't see because you're into the liquor. When you need to have good judgment and make the right moves, you don't have the ability to do so. The liquor has clouded your minds. The prophet speaks very graphically of them.

For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, there isn't a clean place [around them] ( Isaiah 28:8 ).

But yet they mock at the prophet of God. They say to the prophet of God,

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts ( Isaiah 28:9 ).

In other words, who is he going to teach? He ought to go down and teach the little babies that have just been weaned from the breasts. Let him teach the preschoolers. Who is he going to teach? For his teaching

Precept is upon precept; line is upon line; here a little, there a little ( Isaiah 28:10 ):

But the prophet declares that God has declared:

For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear ( Isaiah 28:11-12 ).

Now interesting this verse is couched in here and you wonder what in the world is that verse about and what does it have to do with the context? As he's talking about Ephraim and the judgment that is coming and the blurred vision and the distorted judgment because of their drinking and all. And their mockery of his teaching methods saying you ought to be teaching kindergarteners for his teaching is so simple. Line upon line, precept upon precept. And then out of the middle of this, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, 'This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,' and yet they would not hear."

Now, Paul the apostle in writing to the Corinthian church about the abuse of the gift of tongues, as he speaks to them of this gift of tongues, he picks out this little verse and says this is what God was talking about when in Isaiah He said, "For with stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people. And this is the rest wherewith I will cause the weary to rest." Interesting. Paul picks that out and interprets that as a reference or a prophecy of the gift of speaking with other tongues that God would pour out upon the church. And that the gift of speaking in tongues would be a restful experience to those who exercised it. "This is the rest wherewith I will cause the weary to rest." And so it would be a very restful experience to those who would exercise the use of that gift. Very interesting, very fascinating.

And I have found that in my own devotional life, when I have a problem and I don't know how to pray over a particular situation, or I have a problem and I want to praise God and I feel a total inadequacy in English, that as I begin to praise the Lord in the Spirit or I begin to pray in the Spirit that it is such a restful experience. And I just find great rest in it. Great peace in it. And so Paul picks this out as a prophecy concerning those that would exercise that gift in their personal devotional life that it would be just a restful experience. And then he gets right back into the subject again.

But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken ( Isaiah 28:13 ).

In other words, it was so simple that they would stumble over it. They wouldn't hear it. They wouldn't obey it. And thus, they would be snared and taken.

Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule the people ( Isaiah 28:14 )

And it not only is Samaria, but now,

in Jerusalem. Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come to us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hid ourselves: 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. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then you shall be trodden down by it ( Isaiah 28:14-18 ).

You may say, "Well, we've made an agreement with hell or death and we're in agreement with hell. It's not going to touch us. You warn us, you say judgment; not going to hit us." And made refuge your lies. But God's going to sweep away your refuge and the judgment shall come and you'll be overthrown by it. But in the midst of it, the Lord has set for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone. That's a sure foundation. That's something that won't let you down. That's something you can rest in. The sure foundation that God has established. Jesus Christ, the precious cornerstone which was set at naught by the builders, but the Lord has made Him the chief cornerstone.

Now these people are mocking the prophet. They said, "Hey man, don't try to scare us with hell. We've got a covenant with hell. We got an agreement. We've made a covenant with death. And we're in agreement with hell. It doesn't bother us." The prophet says, "Your covenant is not going to stand. It's gonna be broken.

For [he said] your bed is shorter than what you can stretch yourself upon it: and your coverings are narrower than what you can wrap yourself in it ( Isaiah 28:20 ).

There are people who like to mock God and like to scoff at the warnings of God. There are people who seek to find rest in philosophy. There are people who seek to find rest in religion. There are people who are seeking rest in liquor, in pleasure. There are people who are seeking rest in prosperity. But of all of these things it must be said the bed is too short and the blankets are too narrow; you can't find real rest in these things. You'll never find satisfaction in prosperity. You'll never find peace in pleasure. There's only one place of real rest and peace and that is in the sure foundation that God has set. The precious cornerstone, Jesus Christ. The only place you'll ever really find rest is resting in Jesus. In His finished work for your salvation. You'll never find rest in religion.

Now here he speaks about the religious leaders getting drunk. And thus not seeing clearly, their judgment perverted. I think that drinking among the clergy is an abomination. Paul said to Timothy that if a man was to be an overseer in the church, that he was not to be given to wine. And I think that that applies to every minister of God. God said to Moses, "When Aaron and his sons come in before the altar, make sure that they haven't been drinking. For they must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord."

There's an intimation that the two sons of Aaron that were killed by the fire of God that came out of the altar were killed because they were a little under the influence. When they saw the fire and got all excited, everybody was shouting and they grabbed the little incense burners and took the coals off the fire and began to offer strange fire to God, the fire of God came out from the altar and consumed them. Their judgment was twisted because of their drinking. And thus the warning came after that. And after the death of the two sons, the word of the Lord came to Moses saying, "Go unto Aaron and say unto him, 'Tell your sons and all that when they come in before the Lord that they're not to be drinking.'" God doesn't want any service out of false stimulation, false fire.

So today people are trying to find rest in religious experiences and it is a tragedy that there are churches that will tell you that you can rest in your infant baptism. "You don't have to worry about being saved. Were you baptized when you were a baby? That's all it takes. You were saved when you were baptized." The bed's too short. You can't rest in that. It takes more than having water sprinkled in your face and words mumbled over you when you were a child to save you. It takes an active, believing, trusting faith in Jesus Christ to bring salvation. He that believeth shall find the rest. He'll not be making haste or in frenzy.

Those who tell you that you had an emotional experience twenty-five years ago, you came forward in an altar call, and you wept, that that emotional experience is sufficient. You were saved. I don't care what happened to you twenty-five years ago; I want to know what is your present relationship with God. You can't be saved by past experiences. You are being saved by your present relationship with Him. Past experiences are just that-past experiences. Unless they have been transmitted into my present relationship.

Paul the apostle speaks of his experience on the Damascus Road saying, "Those things which were gain to me, I counted loss" ( Philippians 3:7 ). He was writing thirty years later to the Philippians. I counted them loss there on the Damascus Road. The whole past, man, is junk. And he said, "Yea, doubtless, I do count them thirty years later as I'm writing to you now, those old things which were once gain to me, which I counted loss on the road to Damascus, I still count them but refuse that I may know Him."

But you see, a lot of people twenty-five years ago counted the old life as loss when they came to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But then in the meantime, they've gone right back. And they're living the old life. They're not serving the Lord. They're not walking with Jesus. They're not living in the Spirit. You ask them about their salvation, "Oh, I had the most glorious experience. I felt this glorious peace and this wonderful warmth that came all over me. And a tingling down my spine and I just sat there and wept before the Lord." What about now? "Oh well, you know, I haven't been to church for years and I really don't see any need of having Christ in my life because, after all, I had that glorious experience then." Oh no, you can't rest in some past experience. You need a vital, living relationship with Jesus today. Jesus said, "Abide in Me and let My words abide in you. For if any man abides not in Me, he is cut off, cast forth like a branch, and is withered; and men gather them together, and cast them into the fire" ( John 15:4 , John 15:6 ). "Abide in Me and let My words abide in you."

So he goes on.

For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim ( Isaiah 28:21 ),

That's where David at mount Perazim smote the Philistines and called the place Perazim because God made a breach there against the Philistines.

he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon ( Isaiah 28:21 ),

That's where Joshua said, "Sun, stand still" ( Joshua 10:12 ), in order that they might have enough time to wipe out their enemies.

that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his acts, and his strange acts. Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, to my speech. Doth not the plowman plow all day to sow? ( Isaiah 28:21-24 )

In other words, hasn't God made all of this preparation and will He not go ahead and carry the thing through? And the whole idea is, yes, God will carry the whole thing through. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 28". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.