1/14/2016

God Longs to be Gracious to You (Isaiah 30)


"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it" (Isa 30:15). "Yet the Lord longs [waits] 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!" (Isa 30:18)

Despite our refusal to trust God, yet God is gracious. In one of the greatest statements in all of Scripture, God says that since Israel will not wait for [trust in] him (Isa 30:15), he will have to wait (NIV "longs") to be gracious to them (Isa 30:18).

Man's common problem: Not waiting. This leads to making bad decisions. Then we regret as we experience undesirable results and consequences. The problem of God's people during Isaiah's time was that they could not wait on God to deliver them when they were under duress from the threat of Assyrian invasion. So they rushed off to depend on Egypt for help, which God regards as useless.
  1. Waiting to rely/depend on what is useless (1-17).
  2. God waits for us in grace (18-33) as a:
    1. Teacher (19-22) who opens their spiritual eyes (20-22; 29:18; cf. 6:9-10).
    2. Healer (23-26) who blesses them with physical (23-25) and spiritual blessings (26).
    3. Conqueror (27-33) whose mouth, breath and voice (27, 28, 30, 31, 33) will soundly defeat all enemies (27-30, 32-33); for Judah, it was Assyria (31).
Questions:
  1. [30:1–5] Compare this "woe" with the previous three (28:1 [glory]; 29:1 [assumption]; 29:15 [secrecy]). How is it similar to and different from those? Why are they "stubborn/obstinate children" (1)? What is the implication of calling them this (30:9; 1:2)?
  2. What have they done wrong (1-2)? Shouldn't this sin of seeking Egypt's help have been obvious (1-2)? What does this say about their decision-making (3-5; Heb 12:1)? Why might Egypt have been an acceptable choice (30:3; 4:6; 25:4; Ps 91:1; 121:5-6)? Why is it not (29:15; 2:22; 31:1)?
  3. [30:6–7] What literary device is used in 30:6-7? (It is also used in 3:16–4:1; 5:1–6; etc.) What is its function? What are the donkeys carrying? To where are they carrying it? In the context why are they doing this? What do Isaiah (and God) think of this (7)? What things are we tempted to try to buy (futilely)?
  4. [30:8–14 ] Why does Isaiah write down his prophetic words (30:8; 8:1, 16; 29:11)? What is their attitude toward the instruction (torah) of Yahweh (9-11)?What do they want to hear (10b)? Dislike hearing (10a, 11)? Despite their protest, what does Isaiah tell them (30:12a; 7:9b; Lk 13:3, 5)?
  5. Why is God not pleased with them (12)? ["Oppression" and "deceit/perverseness" (12) are practices of the Egypt they were tempted to rely.] How might this apply to us? What would happen as a result (Isa 30:13–14; 47:11; Prov 6:15; 1 Th 5:3)?
  6. [30:15–18] What does God plead with them to do (30:15; 7:4)? What happens when they refuse (16-17)? Note the two "therefores" (15, 18)? So what should we not do (31:1)? And what should we do when faced with a threatening situation (Prov 3:5; Ps 40:4)?
  7. What are the four things Yahweh wants to do for us (18)? What prevents him from giving them to us?
  8. [30:19–22, 23-26] What will be the characteristics of the remnant (19–22)? Relate to 6:9–10. What is the point of the imagery (23–26)?
  9. [30:27–33] Why don't the Judeans need to enter into an alliance with Egypt? Why say that Yahweh's "name" comes from afar (27)? What does "name" refer to in the OT?
  10. What is the setting in which God's judgment on the nations (as represented by Assyria) is placed (29, 32, 33)? Why is this?
[31:1–9] "Substantiation" occurs when the effect is stated first and the cause second. Notice the "for" beginning v. 4. What is the effect and what is the cause in these verses?
Notice the title in vv. 4 and 5. What is its significance here?
Why should the people turn to God (vv. 6–7 substantiation)? How does this apply to us?
Look at the events reported in 37:36–38 and compare to the prediction here in v. 8. Trust Egypt?
Remember that "to be shamed" (cf. 31:3, 5) in OT context is to be disgraced, often by a failed trust.
The Negeb (30:6) is the northern edge of the Sinai wilderness, progressively more hostile as one goes farther south. Perhaps the coast road to Egypt was blocked by the Assyrians so that communication with Egypt had to be round about through the desert.
Although the name Rahab (30:7) has not yet been found in any of the myths, it is apparent that this was another of the names for the chaos monster. Here Isaiah mocks Egypt with an oxymoron: a helpless monster. 
"Inscribe it in a book" (30:8) suggests again that Isaiah's words were not for his own generation, which would not listen (cf. 6:9–10), but for generations to come (cf. 8:16–17).
Note the changing proportions of hope and judgment the farther we go into chapters 28–33.