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Egypt Cannot Protect Israel Against the Lord's Wrath
v. 1. Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help, making it a practice to turn to this world-power for assistance, and stay on horses and trust in chariots, because they are many, the chief strength of the Egyptian army being represented by their cavalry, which boasted some very powerful war-chariots, and in horsemen, because they are very strong, there being a powerful multitude of them; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord! They forsake the God of the covenant in order to put their trust in mere men.
v. 2. Yet He also is wise, said in divine irony, for God is wise in essence, far wiser than the Egyptians, and in comparison with Him the Jews had surely proved themselves fools in forsaking His mighty counsel and protection, and will bring evil, executing punishment upon those who ignore Him, and will not call back His words, He will not take back the threats which He had uttered against the Egyptian alliance, but will arise against the house of the evil-doers and against the help of them that work iniquity, both the Jews who sought assistance and the Egyptians who were ready to give assistance being condemned together.
v. 3. Now, the Egyptians are men, and not God, that is, on the one hand were finite, powerless creatures, on the other the almighty God; and their horses flesh and not spirit, not endowed with the power of spirit beings, but only weak and perishable flesh. When the Lord shall stretch out His hand, make use of His almighty power, both he that helpeth shall fall, namely, Egypt, and he that is holpen, namely, Judah, shall fall down, the helper stumbling and he who accepts the help being carried down to the ground in his fall, and they all shall fail together.
v. 4. For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, in a word which partakes of the nature of both a warning and a promise to Judah, His people, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, growling over an animal which he has stolen from the herd and is in the act of tearing to pieces, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, there being an allusion here to the help solicited from Egypt, he will not be afraid of their voice nor abase himself, shrinking back or slinking away in fear, for the noise of them, not permitting himself to be deprived of his prey, so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for Mount Zion and for the hill thereof, for the congregation of His children. Thus the visitation of the Lord becomes a chastisement of love to His people, for He will finally deliver them from every evil work.
Jehovah Protects those who Fear Him
v. 5. As birds flying, fluttering over a brood of fledglings, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem, hovering over its inhabitants with anxious care; defending also He will deliver it, and passing over He will preserve it, as the destroying angel passed over the blood-marked houses of the children of Israel in Goshen at the time of the first Passover, Exodus 12:13; Exodus 23-27.
v. 6. Turn ye unto Him, the God of the covenant, the God of love, from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. The result of such true repentance is now pictured:
v. 7. For in that day, when the Lord visits His people, especially with the dawning of the Messianic era, every man shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, renouncing idolatry in every form, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin, whereby they contracted guilt in great measure.
v. 8. Then shall the Assyrian, representative of the world-power hostile to the true Lord, fall with the sword, not of a mighty man, that of a human champion, and the sword, not of a mean man, of a human adversary, shall devour him; but he shall flee from the sword, namely, the weapon employed by the Lord, and his young men shall be discomfited, become subject to slavery, the former masters being humiliated most deeply.
v. 9. And he shall pass over to his stronghold for fear, that is, the king of Assyria, hitherto the strong refuge of his people, would flee in terror, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, scattered in wild confusion before the onslaught of Jehovah, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion and His furnace in Jerusalem, the light of His divine presence shining forth from His holy congregation. With God in her midst, with the illuminating light of His Word and with the destroying power of His wrath over against His enemies, the Church of God of all times is secure.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Isaiah 31". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26