Isaiah 31


‘Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD. Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against that wicked nation, against those who help evildoers. But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together.’ Isaiah 31:1-3

Woe To Those Who Rely On Egypt

In this chapter and the first eight verses of the next chapter, we read of a woe to those who trust in false help, and the new era.

Judah are now being called to look at the spiritual because reality is to be found in the spiritual world, Psalm 127:1. We read of the stupidity of trusting in strength, that is Judah’s reliance upon Egypt is foolish, for the Egyptians are mere men.

Judah sought to obtain horses and chariots from Egypt so that they could fight against the Assyrians. Both the Egyptians and Israelites will fall together, which would demonstrate the strength of God.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The whole narrative respecting the invasion of Sennacherib would lead to the conclusion that, at first, Hezekiah himself joined in the purpose of seeking that alliance with Egypt, but that afterwards he was led to abandon it and to use all his influence to induce his people to rely upon aid from God.’

‘This is what the LORD says to me: “As a lion growls, a great lion over its prey—and though a whole band of shepherds is called together against it, it is not frightened by their shouts or disturbed by their clamour—so the LORD Almighty will come down to do battle on Mount Zion and on its heights. Like birds hovering overhead, the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will shield it and deliver it, he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made. “Assyria will fall by no human sword; a sword, not of mortals, will devour them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced labour. Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem.’ Isaiah 31:4-9

Here, God calls upon Judah to repent. If Judah will repent, God will stand over her and will allow no one to take her away from Him. The Lord is the lion who will not be disturbed by the Assyrians’ cry against the city of Jerusalem.

Hailey, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The shepherds making the loud noise do not represent Assyria, but represent the politicians of Judah and the Egyptians. The picture is clear, the lion is Jehovah, his prey is Jerusalem and the loud but ineffectual shepherds are the politicians and the Egyptians.’

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning verses 5-6.

‘This is a renewal of God’s promise to protect and preserve Jerusalem from the Assyrians. ‘Just as the lion will not give up his prey, so Jehovah will not allow the Assyrians to rob him of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem would indeed be severely punished, but God had reserved Babylon as the rod he would use for that punishment, not Assyria, which would also be destroyed by Babylon.’

God makes an appeal for repentance but the call to turn from sin to God is a continual call, Luke 13:3 / Acts 2:38. As proof of their repentance, they were to reject their idols, Isaiah 2:20.

No human hero delivered God’s people, but the power of Assyria was broken by the intervention of God, Isaiah 37:36. It’s God’s sword that brought down the Assyrians and only God can protect and deliver them, only God gives us our strength. We should trust God now and we shouldn’t trust the physical because all will go in time anyway.

The arrogance of Sennacherib led him to believe that he could take Jerusalem. Jerusalem thus became the occasion for God to bring judgment upon him. For Sennacherib, Jerusalem became a consuming fire that devoured his army.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Perhaps the whole idea here is, that Yahweh had a home in Jerusalem, with the usual appendages of a house, that his fire and his oven were there, an expression descriptive of a dwelling-place. If so, then the meaning is, that he would defend his own home and that the Assyrian could not expect to prevail against it.’

Go To Isaiah 32