God Graciously Waits (Isaiah 30)

Isaiah 30 (1-7, 8-18, 19-26, 27-33)

"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'" (Isa 30:15). "Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him" (Isa 30:18, NKJV).

Isaiah 28-33 can be titled "The Folly of Trusting the Nations" (or "Woe to those who do not trust or wait on God"). Isaiah pronounces "woe" [the funeral word] six times in this section (Isa 28:1; 29:1, 15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1), because the refusal to trust God will only lead to destruction.

  • Isaiah 28-29 covering the first three woes (Isa 28:1; 29:1, 15) deal with bad leadership. General denouncement.
  • Isaiah 30-31 critique with the proposed solution: dependence on Egypt. Specific denouncement of depending on the very power which once enslaved them.
  • Isaiah 32-33 present the true solution: reliance on the true Leader, the righteous King.
The first woe (28:1) is against Ephraim for their drunken leadership, and for the priests and prophets mocking Isaiah's words (Isa 28:9-10). The second woe (29:1) is against Ariel [meaning "altar hearth"] or Jerusalem for her presumption (Isa 29:1, 13) and blindness to God's word (Isa 29:9-10, 11-12). The third woe (29:15) accuses the counselors of trying to hide their counsel from God and likely also from Isaiah, whose position against placing trust in human nations is well known.

The fourth woe (Isa 30:1) is the first of two aimed specifically at the alliance with Egypt that the royal counselors are urging. To Isaiah, this is foolish because Egypt cannot offer any real help; she is an utterly useless and toothless old monster (Isa 30:7). Rahab is another name for the chaos monster Leviathan (Isa 27:1), that terrifying dragon who is always threatening to destroy the order on which human life depends. But this Rahab is far from terrifying. She is "Rahab the Do-Nothing" or "Rahab the one who sits." She is a toothless old monster, too lazy to move.
  1. Trusting What Is Utterly Useless (1-7): The foolishness of looking to Egypt. Scorning the idea of Egypt offering Judah any substantive help. Fundamentally, it is a refusal to trust God (Isa 30:15), which is what the entire section of chs. 7-39 is about.
  2. Refusing and Rejecting Repentance and Rest (8-18). Judah's coming devastation. God has to wait until they come to their senses. Having decided to trust Egypt rather than God, they do not wish to hear anything which would call their choice into question. They have refused to wait for the Lord's help and have rushed off to help themselves. So the Lord must wait for them, as he did for Jacob, until circumstances will have reduced them to helplessness. The good news is that God waits to be gracious (Isa 30:18).
  3. God's Once Hidden Ways Become Clear (19-26). Promises of redemption and restoration of God's people. Isaiah relates again the certainty of God's salvation.
  4. God's Destructive Breath and Voice Upon His Enemies (27-33). Defeat of enemies. Although Judah's failure to trust God would indeed result in destruction, that destruction would be followed by redemption (19-26) and a corresponding destruction of Judah's enemies.
There is a reiteration of the great themes of the first part of Isaiah: an appeal to trust God (Isa 30:15), a promise of judgment on those who stupidly rebel against God by trusting human nations instead of God, but then the assertion that after the judgment has come, there will yet be hope for those who turn to him (Isa 30:18).