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Isaiah 31-34 Listen
Woe to those who go down to Egypt (Isaiah 31)
1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
2 Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.
4 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
5 As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
6 Turn ye unto him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.
7 For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your own hands have made unto you for a sin.
8 Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
9 And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the LORD, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
Here's the essence of chapter 31 from Isaiah: So, Israel, you're scared of those Assyrians, huh? Need a little protection? Well...you won't get it from Egypt; they're too weak. Notice verse 3, "Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together." The only help Jerusalem needs is God himself.
This message continues from Isaiah 30 (see notes). That chapter is an oracle against those going to call upon Egypt for help. In fact, Egypt fell to the Assyrians along with all of Jerusalem's neighbors, but God did, in fact, protect Jerusalem from falling - at least to the Assyrians. And no...Jerusalem did not turn to God; only King Hezekiah. But that was enough for God to spare them.
Verses 7-9 prophesy the supernatural deliverance of Jerusalem that occurs in II Kings 18:13-19:37; II Chronicles 32:9-22; Isaiah 36-37 (see notes). The rest of Judah, along with Israel, did fall. Isaiah, in this passage, correctly prophesies the deliverance of Jerusalem by God from the Assyrians in the face of insurmountable odds.
But there's coming a day... (Isaiah 32:1-8)
1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.
2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
3 And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.
4 The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.
5 The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.
6 For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
7 The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.
8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.
Israel will look and see devastation by the Assyrians everywhere. But there's coming a day when the righteous Messiah will rule over all, as we see in verse 1, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment." Based upon verse 1, these verses must look to the Messianic Kingdom - a time yet future...even to us. We see also in these verses that those who exploit the poor will not be available to do so during this rule. As a matter of fact, verses 2-8 deal with the human inequities which will be remedied at the outset of this period. That understanding is set up by the mention of the "vile person" in verse 5 - that he will not practice his vileness during the Messianic rule. Verses 6-8 describe the attributes of a vile person. The KJV translation of the verbs there in the future tense are a little confusing. The vile person "will" practice his vileness as a matter of his vile character, but not during the Messianic rule.
A warning to the women (Isaiah 32:9-14)
9 Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.
10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.
11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.
12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.
13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:
14 Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;
And for those women who were complacent in their attitudes about the coming siege by the Assyrians, they had better watch out! The devastation of Judah (not the city of Jerusalem) is imminent. The other cities of Judah will suffer devastation.
Love that Kingdom living (Isaiah 32:15-20)
15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.
16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;
19 When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.
20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.
The first 14 verses of chapter 32 talk about the contrast between the righteous rule of the Messiah (verse 1) and the corruption otherwise. How will it all be made better? Verse 15 says, "Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high," That sounds like the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-35 (see notes). After the event of verse 15, notice what is said of life from that point forward in verse 17, "And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever." Again, the prophet must have the Messianic rule in view here. These conditions did not exist during any historical period after the issuance of this oracle. Therefore, it must be a Messianic proposition that looks to the yet-future millennium.
The destruction of the enemy - those Assyrians (Isaiah 33:1-16)
1 Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.
2 O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.
3 At the noise of the tumult the people fled; at the lifting up of thyself the nations were scattered.
4 And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the caterpiller: as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.
5 The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.
6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
7 Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.
8 The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.
9 The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits.
10 Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.
11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.
12 And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.
13 Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.
Verse 1 takes off with a description of the attitude of the Assyrians in their boastfulness of their power, but the verse quickly turns on them, prophesying their defeat. In verses 2-4 we see the prayers of the righteous remnant in Judah who call out to the Lord followed by a Messianic promise in verses 5-6. Verses 7-12 speak of the conditions as Jerusalem is surrounded by the Assyrian army. In verses 13-16 Isaiah commends those righteous in Jerusalem who will stand firm in their faith toward God.
One day it'll be all better! (Isaiah 33:17-24)
17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.
18 Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?
19 Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand.
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
21 But there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.
23 Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.
24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.
Here are some more verses describing life on the earth when the Messiah, the King of Kings, reigns over the land. Verse 17 says, "Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off." That's the Messiah. We then see a contrast between the terror of the Assyrian officials and the righteous rule of the Messiah in verses 18-19. We further see a description of the Messiah in verse 22, "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us."
A little premillennial destruction (Isaiah 34)
1 Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it.
2 For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.
3 Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
4 And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling FIG from the fig tree.
5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.
6 The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea.
7 And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.
8 For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.
9 And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.
10 It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.
11 But the cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and the raven shall dwell in it: and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion, and the stones of emptiness.
12 They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing.
13 And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls.
14 The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest.
15 There shall the great owl make her nest, and lay, and hatch, and gather under her shadow: there shall the vultures also be gathered, every one with her mate.
16 Seek ye out of the book of the LORD, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it hath commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.
17 And he hath cast the lot for them, and his hand hath divided it unto them by line: they shall possess it for ever, from generation to generation shall they dwell therein.
Actually, the destruction is quite significant according to verse 2, "For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter." All the enemies of God will be destroyed prior to the millennium at the end of the tribulation at the last battle we know as Armageddon (Revelation 19:11-21, see notes). That's the event to which Isaiah is looking in this chapter; nothing else fits the specifications.
Edom here was a very small neighbor nation of Israel and was continually hostile toward Israel/Judah. They are to become a showplace of God's destruction - a museum, so to speak. They'll probably call it the "They-Rejected-God Museum." Edom is probably used here in the context of being the epitome of Judah/Israel's enemy - representative of the hostility of the surrounding nations toward Israel in that age and through the centuries.