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The Alliance with Egypt and the Rebellious People
v. 1. Woe to the rebellious children, stubborn, obstinate, refractory people, saith the Lord, that take counsel, making plans of their own, but not of Me, without consulting Him, and that cover with a covering, weave an alliance, form a league, but not of My Spirit, not suggested or commanded by the Holy Spirit speaking through the Lord's messengers, that they may add sin to sin! The alliance of Judah with Egypt was not only undertaken without the consent of the Lord, but was connected with idolatrous acts.
v. 2. That walk to go down into Egypt and have not asked at My mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, making the king of Egypt their refuge, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! They sought protection from a heathen ruler, whereas, Jehovah, the true God, lived in their midst.
v. 3. Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, they would be disappointed and disgraced when he and the desired refuge would fail them, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion, for the help and protection which they expected would not be forthcoming.
v. 4. For his princes, the ambassadors sent by Judah, were at Zoan, having arrived there to confer with Pharaoh, and his ambassadors came to Hanes, these two cities being the royal seats of Egypt at that time.
v. 5. They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, that is, disgrace would strike the people of Judah for taking this course in seeking help from Egypt, which could be of no real benefit to them, nor be an help nor profit, but a shame and also a reproach. That would be the result, the well-merited punishment which would come upon Judah for forsaking the trust in Jehovah alone. The prophet here interrupts has testimony of warning in order to insert an oracle directed against Egypt.
v. 6. The burden of the beasts of the South, of the hippopotamus, as the emblem of Egypt. Into the land of trouble and anguish, through the desert between Palestine and Egypt, with its many disagreeable and dangerous features, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, these animals representing some of the great dangers of the wilderness, they, the ambassadors of Judah, will carry their riches, the treasures with which they intend to buy Egypt's help, upon the shoulders of young asses and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, upon their humps, their strongest pack-animals being pressed into service for this purpose, to a people that shall not profit them, who would leave them in the lurch at the very time when they would need assistance most.
v. 7. For the Egyptians shall help in vain and to no purpose, their help will be vapor and emptiness, an unusually strong expression to designate the helplessness of Egypt; therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still. That was the Lord's name for Egypt: Boastfulness that sits still, unable to be of service, in spite of all its arrogant promises. In connection with this divine oracle the prophet now receives his special commission,
v. 8. Now go, write it before them in a table, a writing-tablet, such as was in general use in those days, and note it in a book, entering the complete prophecy on a parchment roll for a permanent record, that it may be for the time to come forever and ever, to the most remote future,
v. 9. that this is a rebellious people, v. 1, lying children, unfaithful to Jehovah, with whom they had entered into a covenant as His children, children that will not hear the Law of the Lord, setting aside all His revealed instruction;
v. 10. which say to the seers, See not, in an attempt to hinder the servants of the Lord in their teaching of God's Word, and to the prophets, the teachers appointed by God, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, blandishments, flatteries, prophesy deceits, things that tickle the vanity of the people, since the latter have itching ears, 2 Timothy 4:3.
v. 11. Get you out of the way, namely, that prescribed by the command of God, turn aside out of the path, forsaking the Lord altogether, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us, for they wanted to hear no more of His holiness, that attribute being the one which sinners dread most. So the people not only rejected the Lord themselves, but demanded that His true servants join them in their apostasy.
v. 12. Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, that same God against whom they were rebelling, Because ye despise this word, regarding His warning with the deepest aversion, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon, for they placed their trust in acts of violence, by means of which they exacted the money needed to purchase the aid of Egypt,
v. 13. therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, the bulging out of the wall indicating that it was about to topple over, whose breaking cometh suddenly, at an instant. Thus the ruin of Judah would overtake the nation with great suddenness because of their idolatrous alliance with Egypt.
v. 14. And He, Jehovah, in His judgment upon the apostate nation, shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces, intentionally smashed into fragments; He shall not spare, so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, a fragment of the broken vessel large enough to serve for this purpose, or to take water withal out of the pit, to be used for drawing water from a cistern. The Lord's threat contemplates an utter overthrow of the disobedient nation. It is ever thus: If the Lord's warnings are not heeded, He sends His punishments with great severity.
Trust in Jehovah Rewarded; Overthrow of the Lord's Enemies
v. 15. For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest, by turning back to the Lord in true repentance and trusting in Him all alone, shall ye be saved, finding deliverance from all the dangers which beset them; in quietness and in confidence, leaving it to the Lord alone to guide and direct them in all their affairs, shall be your strength, that being the secret of the power possessed by all believers; and ye would not, the unbelievers, by their own stubbornness, deprive themselves of the great blessings to be found in association with the Lord through His Word.
v. 16. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses, their boast being that they could not wait to meet the enemy on swift horses; therefore shall ye flee; namely, in trying to escape the victorious onslaught of their adversaries; and, We will ride upon the swift, anxious to risk the battle on run-tiers, horses noted for their speed; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift, the Lord giving the victory to their enemies.
v. 17. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee, overcome by terror, in disgraceful flight, Cf Leviticus 26:8; Deuteronomy 32:30, till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, a solitary signal staff, and as an ensign on an hill, only a tiny remnant being left after the Lord has carried out His punishment.
v. 18. And therefore will the Lord wait, the miserable condition of Israel causing Him to turn toward His people once more, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, withdrawing Himself, removing, hiding behind the veil of His holiness and majesty, for the time being, as it were, that He may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment, He is bound to execute justice. Blessed are all they that wait for Him, for the time when He once more reveals His mercy. In a little wrath God hides His face for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will He have mercy on us. Isaiah 54:8. Cf Jeremiah 30:11; Jeremiah 46:28.
v. 19. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, the Church of God being preserved in the midst of all dangers and enemies; thou shalt weep no more, the spiritual Israel, the people of the Lord, should not give way to excessive mourning; He, Jehovah, will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry, the repentant cry for mercy; when He shall hear it, He will answer thee, with an act of mercy.
v. 20. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, of distress, and the water of affliction, such as His merciful chastisement often lays upon His children, Romans 8:18-25, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers, who would no longer find it necessary to hide, as in the days of Ahab of Israel or of Ahaz of Judah;
v. 21. and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, the guiding voice of God, through His servants, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, this being a word of warning, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left, thus keeping them in the paths of righteousness.
v. 22. Ye shall defile also, as a result of the good teaching of the prophets, the covering of thy graven images of silver, the plating used to cover the body of their images, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold; thou shalt cast them away, scattering them, as a menstruous cloth, as something filthy and loathsome; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence, throwing it out as trash.
v. 23. Then, after such evidences of repentance on the part of the people, shall He give the rain of thy seed, so that the grain which had been sown would have a good stand, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, of everything that the earth produces for the food of man, and it shall be fat and plenteous, full of rich nourishment. In that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures, in meadows the size and richness of which insure abundant pasturage.
v. 24. The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground, that is, which plow and till the farmland, shall eat clean provender, a mash of grain and chopped herbs, made more palatable by the addition of salt, the superior quality of the straw used being emphasized by the words, which hath been winnowed with the shovel, a large, flat shovel for the larger legumes and grains, and with the fan, a five-or six-pronged fork used for tossing up the grain and thus cleaning it of chaff.
v. 25. And there shall be upon every high mountain and upon every high hill, barren as they otherwise were, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the punishment of God will strike His enemies, when the towers fall, namely, those of all fortifications of men erected over against the city of God.
v. 26. Moreover, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, equal to it in brightness, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day, the time to which the entire Old Testament looked forward, that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, the calamity which had struck them on account of their sins, and healeth the stroke of their wound. The entire passage pictures the spiritual splendor of the Messianic era.
v. 27. Behold, the name of the Lord, revealing His holy and righteous nature and His almighty majesty for the purpose of judgment, cometh from far, like an immense storm or a devastating prairie fire arising above the horizon, burning with His anger, and the burden thereof is heavy, settling down like a heavy pall of smoke upon the entire landscape; his lips are full of indignation and his tongue as a devouring fire;
v. 28. and His breath, as an overflowing stream, with all the impetous force of a spring fresher, shall reach to the midst of the neck, so that only his head extends above the division of waters, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity, the result of the Lord's sifting being nothingness, destruction; and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err, the reference being either to wild horses, which must be kept in subjection with force, or to the manner in which prisoners were sometimes fettered, the prisoners in either case being forced into destruction, as a just punishment upon them. Over against this destruction we have the deliverance of Israel, the people of God.
v. 29. Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept, the solemn festal hymn of the Passover Festival, and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the Mighty One of Israel. In other words, Israel, the Church of God, is in the midst of its glorious worship, while round about it Jehovah is carrying out His punishment upon the adversaries of His people. "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, and that right early. " Psalms 46:5.
v. 30. And the Lord shall cause His glorious voice, raised in a majestic battle-cry, to be heard and shall show the lighting down of His arm, as it descends upon the scoffers, with the indignation of His anger and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, as of that accompanying a cloudburst, and tempest, a heavy rain, and hail-stones, all the destructive forces of nature.
v. 31. For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod, this destruction of the world-power being a type of the punishment which strikes all the enemies of the Church of God.
v. 32. And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, where the avenging rod, as decreed by God, will strike, which the Lord shall lay upon him, in punishing and destroying the world-power, it shall be with tabrets and harps, with timbrels and zithers, that is, while the people of God rejoice over their deliverance; and in battles of shaking will He fight with it, with uplifted arm Jehovah will wage war.
v. 33. For Tophet is ordained of old, a dreadful altar being prepared for the slaughter; yea, for the king it is prepared, for the ruler of the world power; He, Jehovah, hath made it deep and large, so that there is room for many victims upon the place of slaughter; the pile thereof is fire and much wood, ready for the great sacrifice; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it, in a sudden and terrible destruction, in the last great act of the Lord's avenging punishment. The believers are secure in the hands of God, though all the powers of earth and hell be arrayed against them.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 30". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent