10/09/2015

Woe To Those Who Do Not Wait/Trust in God (Isaiah 28-35)

Isaiah 28-35 has also been titled:
  • The folly of trusting the nations.
  • Do not trust in enemies who will be defeated.
  • Human schemes and God's plans.
  • Six woes.
In Isaiah 28-35 Isaiah continues the lessons in trust since Ahaz decided not to trust God as recorded in Isaiah 7. Having established God's sovereignty and supremacy over the nations, both in particular (ch.13-23) and in general (ch.24-27), Isaiah now returns to particular situations in Israel and Judah that illustrate the folly of trusting the nations instead of God. The key issue in Isaiah 28-35 is whether Judah, and in particular its leaders, will rely on Egypt or on the Lord in the face of the growing threat posed by the ever-increasing power of Assyria.
Egypt was addressed in Isaiah 18-20. But it appears as a central issue in Isaiah 28-35 because this is immediately before the account of Sennacherib's invasion of Judah in Isaiah 36-37. Hezekiah, the king of Judah after Ahaz, almost destroyed Judah by listening to his counselors to rely on Egypt. Isaiah 28-35 show how strongly and consistently Isaiah had opposed this foolish counsel in the deepening crisis that led up to the events recorded in Isaiah 36-37.

Because refusal to trust God will only lead to destruction, Isaiah begins several of the sections with the funeral word "woe" (Isa 28:1; 29:1, 15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1). Consider this section in groups of two chapters each:
  • Isaiah 28-29: The crisis and problem is that of foolish, drunken leaders and their false counsel.
  • Isaiah 30-31: The proposed false solution is dependence on Egypt.
  • Isaiah 32-33: The true solution is reliance on the true Leader, the righteous King.
  • Isaiah 34-35: The result of trusting the nations (ch.34) or God (ch.35) is the "desert" (judgment) or the "garden" (salvation).
Isaiah 28:1-29

"Therefore the Lord God said: 'Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable'" (Isa 28:16, HCSB).
Most of these chapters are focused on Judah since that is Isaiah's home. However Isaiah 28 begins with a woe addressed to "Ephraim" (northern Israel). But by Isa 28:14 the focus has shifted to Jerusalem. However, most of what is said after 28:14 is still relevant to the northern kingdom since she has entered its final death throes.

When it became clear that the northern kingdom was going to fall to Assyria (722 BC) and that Ahaz's alliance with Assyria was as worthless as Isaiah had predicted, the only human hope left was Egypt. No other country in the area had the wealth or resources to mount an army of sufficient size to stand up to the Assyrians. But to Isaiah, trusting Egypt is as foolish as trusting Assyria. Although it is unlikely that Egypt will turn on Judah as Assyria had, they are still only mere humans (Isa 31:3).