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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 31

Verses 1-3

Woe to Those Seeking Help From Egypt

In this chapter the LORD teaches the remnant of Israel that is left after the Assyrian massacre (Zechariah 13:8-1 Samuel :). That third remaining part is now to be purified as gold or silver (Malachi 3:3). To this end, they must confess and condemn their national sins – the rejection of Christ and the acceptance of the antichrist (John 5:43).

In Isaiah 7 Ahaz is threatened by Syria and Ephraim. However, Ahaz relies on Assyria and not on the LORD. Now that there is a threat from Assyria, Judah puts his trust in Egypt and not in the LORD. During the invasion of Assyria a part of the unbelieving people fled to Egypt. This is how it will happen in the future. At that time, the Jews will put their trust in the antichrist and the military power of Europe, the restored Roman Empire, and not in the LORD. The faithful remnant will confess as the core of the new Israel of God that trusting man is vain, to no avail, futile.

The tendency to place his hope in the world is deeply rooted in the heart of man. That is why in this short chapter there is a repetition of the warning against it, preceded by a powerful “woe”. Again Isaiah pronounces the “woe” to those who seek help from Egypt because of their horses, chariots, and horsemen instead of from the LORD (Isaiah 31:1; cf. Deuteronomy 17:16). Trust in horses always represents a false trust (Psalms 20:7). God judges that way as a “going down”. The way away from God is always down.

These verses are therefore written as a lamentation about someone going down a descending path. God judges these persons as people “going down”. They do not only descend literally, but also morally. “Those who go down” is one noun in Hebrew. It indicates that it is not a one-time act of going down, but that it concerns people who are used to descending, whose trust is not in God, but in man.

This characterizes Christianity today. To many Christians, God is nothing more than a word. Those who rely on such an intangible ‘word’ are, in their eyes, people who close their eyes to reality. Of course, it is just the other way around. If a Christian today seeks to reconnect with the world instead of living in dependence on God, he is dishonoring the Name of the Lord, Who has redeemed him from the world and bought him for Himself.

They may think to act with wisdom – Egypt symbolizes the wisdom of the world – but, as it sounds with an undertone of sarcasm, the LORD is also wise (Isaiah 31:2). His wisdom is expressed in the judgment on Egypt (Isaiah 30:14) and of those who consider the power of Egypt to be greater than His power. In Isaiah 31:3 the prophet speaks of the Egyptians as “men” who are creatures in the presence of the fullness of the power of God, their Creator. He speaks of their horses as “flesh,” as opposed to “spirit,” by which spiritual powers are meant. With the spirit that man possesses – an animal has no spirit – he can connect with God.

“He who helps”, i.e. Egypt, and “he who is helped”, i.e. Judah, will both stumble, fall down and come to an end by the judgment of the LORD. In the end time, this will happen with the united Europe and the apostate Israel that expects help from Europe. The same goes for Egypt where the apostate Israel will seek refuge during the Assyrian invasion.

Often Christians also rely on tools offered to them by the world and the flesh. Examples are churches that are led according to principles that are used in business instead of consulting God’s Word. We also see that those who are at the end of their counsel are comforted by psychotherapeutic means, without there being room for the Lord and His own. In the preaching of the gospel, human advertising methods are used to persuade unbelievers to become Christians instead of preaching God’s Word with power through the Spirit.

Verses 4-7

The Sure Protection

Isaiah lets the believing remnant know Who the LORD is to them. To them He is like a lion, “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Revelation 5:5), who watches over his prey. A hungry lion does not let his prey be robbed by anyone and regardless of their number (Isaiah 31:4; cf. John 10:28-Amos :). Thus the LORD does not allow Himself to be robbed of Jerusalem, but descends from heaven to protect it.

This is one of the clearest texts in the Old Testament about the coming of the Lord Jesus to earth (cf. Zechariah 14:4). It is about His appearance to rescue Israel and thereby fulfill the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We have to distinguish this apparition from His coming to take the believers home (1 Thessalonians 4:14-Job :).

The LORD is not impressed by the clattering of arms and screaming to heaven of the enemies of His people, who are also His enemies. He will come down from heaven and judge them (Psalms 2:1-Joshua :). He watches over Jerusalem as a bird protects her young, while He deliver her with the speed of a bird (Isaiah 31:5). Here the picture of a lion changes into that of a bird, but the message remains the same.

First the LORD is compared to a strong lion, brave, fearless, powerful. Thus He sets Himself up against the enemies of His people. Then He is compared with a caring bird that defends and protects his nest (cf. Ruth 2:12; Deuteronomy 32:11-2 Kings :; Matthew 23:37). In this way He stands up for His beloved city.

The closing line of Isaiah 31:5 is reminiscent of the Passover in Egypt. There the judgment of the LORD has passed over the houses where the blood has been done on the doorposts and He delivers the houses of His people from the power of Egypt (Exodus 12:13; Exodus 12:23Exodus 12:27).

When Isaiah presented the LORD in this way to them, the heart is made receptive to hear the call to repentance and to answer it (Isaiah 31:6), for the LORD gives salvation only after their conversion. If they heed the call, then the idols will be cast away by them (Isaiah 31:7). True repentance is proven by the removal from the life of every serving and honoring of anything or anyone other than God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). The day will come when Israel will have nothing more to do with idols, but will live only for the true God. This should already be the case in the life of the Christian.

Verses 8-9

Assyria Falls by the LORD

The enemy that oppresses Jerusalem will fall by the sword. That sword is not wielded by a human being. Not the Egyptians will defeat Assyria. The LORD Himself will wield the sword to defeat Assyria (Isaiah 31:8). In the short term this will happen at the siege of Jerusalem in the time of Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:36). In the end time it will happen again and finally by the Lord Jesus when He comes from heaven (Daniel 11:45; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 19:15Revelation 19:21). What is left of the power of the nations, represented in the “young men”, will be placed in the service of the people of God.

“His rock” (Isaiah 31:9) refers to the protection that Assyria has proclaimed to be for all who are subject to him. This “rock” will perish in terror at the sight of the majesty of the LORD. The ‘rock’ probably means the king of Assyria. Other leaders of his people will also lose the courage to lead his armies further in the fight against Jerusalem. They will discover that the LORD let go forth from Zion a consuming fire and made Jerusalem a consuming furnace for those who have been gone up against it. Then Jerusalem will be a true “Ariel” (Isaiah 29:1). They have ventured to destroy God’s holy city. They themselves will be destroyed by it.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 31". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/isaiah-31.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.