Isaiah 30


‘Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the LORD, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt without consulting me; who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection, to Egypt’s shade for refuge. But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame, Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace. Though they have officials in Zoan and their envoys have arrived in Hanes, everyone will be put to shame because of a people useless to them, who bring neither help nor advantage, but only shame and disgrace.” Isaiah 30:1-5

Woe To The Obstinate Nation

In this chapter, we read of a woe against the pro-Egyptian party.

Judah had an alliance but not with God, they went to Egypt in order to form an alliance against the Assyrians. In doing so, they rebelled against God’s protection of God and totally ignored the protection which God would have offered.

They looked to Egypt for shade, as a refuge, a shade is a protection from the burning rays of the sun, Isaiah 4:6.

Even though they met with the officials in Zoan, Isaiah 19:11 / Isaiah 19:13, which was the residence of the kings in Lower Egypt and Hanes, to make a treaty but they are of no use to them. Egypt’s protection was a poor exchange for Divine aid. In other words, they put Egypt before God.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘When God prophesied the placement of a king over Israel, Deuteronomy 17:14-17, he specifically commanded that, 1. the king should not go back to Egypt for the purpose of procuring horses, and that, 2. ‘Henceforth ye shall return no more that way.’ And yet, despite all that, right here in this chapter, the princes of Judah are 1. again going right back through that terrible wilderness on their way to Egypt, and 2. boasting about the horses they shall ride, Isaiah 30:16!’

It was often the fault and folly of the Jews when they had trouble with their neighbours on one side to seek help from neighbours on the other side, instead of looking to God and putting confidence in Him, Joshua 9:14.

‘A prophecy concerning the animals of the Negev: Through a land of hardship and distress, of lions and lionesses, of adders and darting snakes, the envoys carry their riches on donkeys’ backs, their treasures on the humps of camels, to that unprofitable nation, to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.’ Isaiah 30:6-7

Here we read that their journey to Egypt was a waste of time. Their alliance and the tribute they paid to Egypt wouldn’t help them against the Assyrians, in fact, the Judeans would be embarrassed and ashamed.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Isaiah, in vision, sees the caravan heavily laden with treasures pursuing a southern direction on its way to Egypt. The prophet sees the caravan, or the beasts of the ambassadors heavily laden with rich treasures, traveling southward toward Egypt, and cries out, ‘O the heavy burden, the load of treasures going to the south!’

The word, ‘Rahab’ indicates something which is powerful but can’t do anything, possibly relating to a hippopotamus or some kind of sea monster. In other words, Rahab, that is, Egypt, Psalm 87:4 / Psalm 89:10, is very slow to come to the aid of others.

‘Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” Isaiah 30:8-11

Here we read of Judah’s rebellious attitude. God instructs Isaiah to write down everything he has been told so that it might be a witness forever, that is, in order to prove the accuracy of the prophecy after history had vindicated it.

Notice, however, that the people don’t want to hear about God, they wanted the prophets to speak smooth things, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

They are described as a rebellious people, deceitful children, and children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction. In other words, they were so far removed from God, that they looked everywhere else for deliverance except Him.

‘Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel says: “Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” Isaiah 30:12-14

Israel must pay for her desire to be free from God, they will be punished for their godliness.

De Hoff, in his commentary, says the following.

‘To put confidence in human bulwarks was like depending on a bulging wall ready to fall with a sudden crash.’

Because they put their trust in their alliance with another nation, they will soon learn the lesson not to do, so when God takes them into captivity. God says the wall of Judah’s alliances will break, they will be destroyed and they will never be restored.

‘This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Isaiah 30:15-17

Here we find a picture of God’s children fleeing, but they will not escape. It didn’t have to be this way but sadly, they chose it. Isaiah pleas for a recall of the envoys to Egypt because it’s only by repenting, that is, returning to God and trusting Him, would they be delivered from the Assyrians.

Those who opposed Isaiah replied by telling him they would rather trust in Egypt’s swift horses in order to escape, but Isaiah tells them their enemies would ride on swifter horses, and eventually overtake them.

Notice that God turns their war slogans around, Leviticus 26:8 / Deuteronomy 32:30, and so, only a small remnant would be spared in order to be a flagstaff, which is used on ships, Isaiah 33:23 / Ezekiel 27:5, or banner, Isaiah 5:26 / Isaiah 11:12, for the existence of Israel.

‘Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” Isaiah 30:18-22

In the midst of all this godliness, God still wants to bless His people. God teaches and blesses them through the adversity of captivity. God is just, and so, He is on His throne, awaiting the time when He will intervene for His people.

God will be heard by His students, He will use His teachers, Psalm 74:9 / Isaiah 43:27 / Daniel 12:3 / Amos 8:11-12, and God will be heard simply because they will have been trimmed of their dull hearing. They will be instructed because they will listen.

Those who are blessed are those who lose the rebellious spirit and cast away the images they have served, Deuteronomy 7:25 / 2 Kings 23:8 / 2 Kings 23:10 / 2 Kings 23:16.

While other cities were destroyed, Zion by itself was preserved. God’s truth called for the people to turn neither to the right nor to the left, but to walk on the straight path of truth.

‘He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.’ Isaiah 30:23-26

Here God promises greater blessings than ever before to the faithful.

In contrast to the famine that God brought on them so that they would repent after they repented He would restore the prosperity of the land. In other words, when Judah puts away their idols, and starts trusting God, then God will bless Judah materially.

The moon would shine as the sun, and the sun would shine with perfect brightness.

Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘By moon, sun, light, are to be understood the abundance of spiritual and temporal felicity, with which God should bless them in the days of the Messiah, which should be sevenfold, i.e. vastly exceed all that they had ever before possessed.’

‘See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. His breath is like a rushing torrent, rising up to the neck. He shakes the nations in the sieve of destruction; he places in the jaws of the peoples a bit that leads them astray. And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel. The LORD will cause people to hear his majestic voice and will make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria; with his rod he will strike them down. Every stroke the LORD lays on them with his punishing club will be to the music of timbrels and harps, as he fights them in battle with the blows of his arm. Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulphur, sets it ablaze.’ Isaiah 30:27-33

Here we read that God blesses penitent Israel finally, but we also read that after using Assyria, Isaiah 10:5, God will now destroy them. This shows that reliance upon human aid is unnecessary.

Henry, in his commentary, says the following.

‘God curbs and restrains from doing mischief. With a word he guides his people into the right way, but with a bridle he turns his enemies upon their own ruin. Here, in threatening the ruin of Sennacherib’s army, the prophet points at the final and everlasting destruction of all impenitent sinners.’

When the Assyrians were destroyed at the gate of Jerusalem, this judgment would send a clear message to any other nation who would try and go against God and His people.

After God shattered the enemies of Judah, the people would come in procession with the playing of the flute in order to praise God, Exodus 12:42 / Deuteronomy 16:1-6.

The word ‘Tophet’, means ‘place of burning’, and is probably a reference to Israel’s cremation of the 185,000 Assyrians whom God killed, 2 Kings 19:35-37 / Isaiah 37:35-38.

They were burned in the Valley of Hinnom, that is, Gehenna, which is located just outside the walls of Jerusalem, Matthew 5:22 / Matthew 5:29-30.

The original application of Gehenna related to the fire that was used in sacrificing children to the pagan god Molech, 2 Chronicles 28:3 / 2 Chronicles 33:6.

We know that Jesus used visual aids in His lessons on many occasions and just outside Jerusalem there was a dumping ground, which was on the very site where the above events took place, people would burn their waste in this place and criminals after dying on the cross were taken there, this is probably where Lazarus was taken when he died at the same time as the Rich Man.

Jesus spoke of Gehenna several times in His ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ For example, the Lord condemns the use of offensive insults for the sake of venting one’s personal rage when He warns whoever addresses another. Matthew 5:22.

Christ stressed that it would be better to proceed through life with great loss, e.g. deprived of an eye or a limb, rather than having Gehenna as a final destiny. Matthew 5:29-30 / Matthew 18:9 / Mark 9:43-47.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Brimstone, or sulphur, is used in the Scriptures to denote a fire of great intensity, and one that cannot be extinguished, Genesis 19:24 / Psalm 11:6 / Ezekiel 38:22 / Revelation 9:17-18. Hence, it is used to denote the eternal torments of the wicked in hell, Revelation 14:10 / Revelation 19:20 / Revelation 21:8.’

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