Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31)

Just how fearful is it? Imagine the most terrifying storm or natural disaster you have been a part of or even witnessed on the TV news and then magnify that beyond imagination. That is what it will be like when God arises to put down the arrogance and pride and independence and rebellion of His sinful creation.

In our passage this morning we are going to witness God in action — God who has had his fill of man’s pride; God who is determined to re-establish visibly the splendor of His majesty and His rightful exalted position as the Preeminent one. He will not tolerate man’s pride forever. There comes a point where the day of man is doomed and God will have His day. We are going to see here in Isaiah that the coming day of the Lord will demonstrate fully His terror and the splendor of His majesty in a fearsome sense to those who have an outward show of religion but have wrongly exalted themselves over God.

God’s people had been called to a life of holiness; a life of separation; they were to be a peculiar people with a testimony that would bring light to the Gentile nations; yet they were living like the pagans around them. They didn’t impact their culture for God. They were corrupted by the worldly value system around them. We are going to see many parallels between the situation of corrupt Jerusalem here (contrasted with the ideal Millennial age pictured in vv. 1-4) and the current situation of corrupt Christendom in our day. How is it that the church looks so much like the world? How is it that the church has become so man-centered rather than God-centered?




(:6a) Announcement of Impending Judgment — Why has God determined to abandon His people?

“For Thou hast abandoned Thy people, the house of Jacob,”

“Abandoned” is a surprisingly strong term to use for God’s relationship to His chosen people

– In the near term they will be delivered over to the Babylonian Captivity

– In the last days in the day of the Lord, the time of Jacob’s trouble – they will be purged and judged before the glorious restoration of the Messianic Kingdom age

Young: For His name’s sake, He will not abandon them utterly (1 Sam. 12:22 and Ps. 94:14).

Vs. 5 had called people to repentance and to walk in the light of the Lord in view of the upcoming kingdom of righteousness but also here in view of the impending judgment at the end of the Tribulation Period

Motyer: In a piece as rhythmic and compelling as anything he ever wrote, Isaiah opens with abandoned (6) and ends with do not forgive (9) – an iron band of hopelessness gripping the apostates of verses 7-9.

Why is this shocking judgment going to occur? God gives us His rationale

4 Reasons given: Characterized by 4 Fatal Flaws: (sounds like the United States in our day)

A. (:6b) Self Help — Because of Their Compromise with Foreign Influences –

Religious Practices; Political Alliances; Business Dealings

“Because they are filled with influences from the east,

And they are soothsayers like the Philistines,

And they strike bargains with the children of foreigners”

Paragraph revolves around this key verb “filled”

Borrowed the pagan ways of both the east and the west – influenced by the pagan cultures around them instead of being a testimony of salt and light to them

Superstitious and religious practices of Babylonia and Assyria

Motyer: Maybe there is the idea of the east as the source of light, in contrast with the light of the Lord

Prohibition against soothsayers: Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10 manipulation of the gods through magic; claiming to know and control the future by the power of demons (sorcery) or by interpreting omens

“clasp hands with” = making alliances with foreigners; implies as well the embracing of their gods and value system – Who do you clasp hands with?

B. (:7a) Self Indulgence — Because of Their Materialistic Excesses

“Their land has also been filled with silver and gold,

And there is no end to their treasures;”

Nothing wrong with material prosperity – God had promised material blessings in conjunction with keeping His covenant – but “the Love of Money is a root of all sorts of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10)

We have already seen how they were condemned for taking bribes; for exploitation of the vulnerable instead of defense of the widows and orphans

They had set their heart and their value system on pursuing materialistic excesses; no contentment or thanksgiving or recognition that the power of God allowed them to gain whatever material blessings they enjoyed

Hos 2:8 “For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new win and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

C. (:7b) Self Reliance — Because of Their Reliance on Their Own Military Power

“Their land has also been filled with horses,

And there is no end to their chariots.”

Look at the parallel to what God had promised would happen when they relied on kings instead of on the Lord – Deut. 17:17

Psalm 20:7 “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God”

D. (:8) Self Deception — Because of Their Pervasive Idolatry

“Their land has also been filled with idols;

They worship the work of their hands,

That which their fingers have made.”

Major theme of all the prophets – sometimes hard for us to identify with

This is the climax of the charge against Israel – repeated emphasis in :18-20

God’s sarcasm and irony is never more biting than when He exposes the futility of the worship of idols

Beall: The word Isaiah uses here for idols, ~yliylia/, “nothingness,” “worthlessness,” may well be a play on words with the real God, ~yhil{a/. What a horrible substitute! Word means “no gods” – not normal word used for idols

Work of their frail fingers – not even their hands

(:9) Transition: Call for Execution of Judgment

“So the common man has been humbled, And the man of importance has been abased, But do not forgive them.”

Your station in life does not matter before God – whether you fall into the category with most of us as the common man or whether you are in that small minority of the man of importance … all the same before the One who is uniquely High and Lifted up. The Almighty, the King of Creation

Prophet cries out “Do not forgive them” – there comes a point of no return … we cannot say when or where that line is drawn … but for the nation of Israel in the day of the Lord, it will come

Ex. 34:7

“who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Motyer: The Hebrew imperative not only commands but is frequently used to express an inevitable result . . .Isaiah is not commanding the Lord not to forgive but saying that forgiveness is unthinkable: “and for sure you will not forgive them”

Young: This is not a bowing performed out of adoration, but one which is brought about by compulsion. The people have lived in worldly glory and in utter contempt of the glory of the true God; they will, therefore, one day feel the weight of His punishment, and will be bowed down under it.

Van Parunak: they became infatuated with pagan cultures, they devoted their energies to self-enrichment, and bowed down before the work of their own hands. Such people cannot expect forgiveness from the Lord, but only his judgment.

Structure: look at repetition of same themed refrains:

– vv. 9, 11, 17 Man humbled and abased while Lord is exalted

– vv. 10, 19, 21 Enter the rock


“Abased” = synonym for humiliated; lowered in prestige, esteem

A. (:10-12) Israel Abased and the Lord Exalted

“Enter the rock and hide in the dust From the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty. The proud look of man will be abased, And the loftiness of man will be humbled, And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning Against everyone who is proud and lofty, And against everyone who is lifted up, That he may be abased.”

Van Parunak: Note the shift from addressing the Lord to addressing the people. Now Isaiah turns from their sin to the coming judgment. v. 10 corresponds chiastically to 18-21, 11 to 17, and in the middle is the announcement of the day of the Lord.

Does the exhortation to “enter the rock” contain some element of hope for deliverance and being spared judgment by finding refuge in God?? Probably not – the emphasis is on the certainty of impending doom

Young: The only way to run from God is to run to Him.

You can run but you can never hide!

Motyer: Splendour is glory visibly displayed and majesty is “exaltedness”.

Van Parunak: Here is the “day” of which the prophet speaks. We read of it 18 times in the prophets, five times in the short book of Joel. Everywhere we meet it, it describes the coming time when men are humbled and the Lord is exalted.

Isaiah is referring to that day, but his construction is a little different from that in most other places (except Ezek 30:3). Literally, he writes, “The Lord of hosts has a day.” This construction emphasizes his sovereign oversight of this day. It is not just the day that is associated with him, but the day that he has set according to his own good pleasure.

As we read these verses, it’s worth remembering that the NT picks up the anticipation of the Day of the Lord, sometimes called simply “the day of the Lord” (1 Thes 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10), sometimes “the day of the Lord Jesus (Christ)” (1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14), sometimes “the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10; 2:16; 2 Thes 2:2). To understand these references correctly, we must keep in mind the clear picture of human humbling and divine exaltation in the OT, which is the background against which the NT authors write.

Amos 5:18-20

“Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you? It will be darkness and not light; 19 As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. 20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light, Even gloom with no brightness in it?”

B. (:13-16) 4 Pictures of Pride Being Brought Low

1. (:13) Majestic Trees

“And it will be against all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up, Against all the oaks of Bashan,”

MacArthur: The cedars and oaks were objects of great admiration to people of OT times (Pss 92:12; 104:16; Eze 27:6; 31:3).

King David had contracted with Hiram to purchase the cedars of Lebanon for use in the construction of the temple – very valuable and impressive

Also men had used wood from these impressive trees to make their idols

Cf. Micah 5:10-14

2. (:14) Lofty Mountains

“Against all the lofty mountains,

Against all the hills that are lifted up,”

Speaks of majesty and permanence – speaks of all of the mighty kingdoms of the nations over the centuries .. none of them end up standing before the Lord

3. (:15) Impressive Fortifications

“Against every high tower,

Against every fortified wall,”

Cf. Tower of Babel – Gen. 11:1-9 – Independence and power of man represented here

Cf. walls of Jericho – could not protect that city

Cf. Edom’s pride described in Obadiah 1:2-4

“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You are greatly despised. 3 “The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, You who live in the clefts of the rock, In the loftiness of your dwelling place, Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ 4 “Though you build high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.”

4. (:16) Beautiful Ships

“Against all the ships of Tarshish,

And against all the beautiful craft.”

Motyer: Such ships represent humankind triumphant over environmental forces, creating great commercial empires (cf. Ezek. 28:2-5).

This represents the Wall Street of the ancient times

Young: “ships of pleasure”

So you have both ships of commerce and cruise ships of luxury and pleasure

Cf. the mighty unsinkable Titanic – one of man’s most prideful accomplishments

C. (:17) Israel Abased and the Lord Exalted

1. Israel Abased

“And the pride of man will be humbled,

And the loftiness of men will be abased,”

The Lord is in the business of abasing the pride of man; Prov. 6:17 Lord hates haughty eyes = man trying to assert himself as the authority rather than submitting to God

My one experience as a juror – the haughty eyes and arrogance of the defendant – he viewed himself as the sovereign; man won’t maintain that arrogant look in the presence of the terror of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty

2. Lord Exalted

“And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.”

Oswalt: The section seems to say that true human greatness cannot appear until God’s greatness is permitted to shine over all. Until that takes place, humanity’s potential is zero.

Phil. 2:8-11

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

How can we humble ourselves before the Lord right now?

How can we give Him the preeminence in all things in practical ways right now?


A. (:18) Valued Idols Cannot Stand Before the Terror of the Lord

“But the idols will completely vanish.”

Remember other confrontations between God and idols:

– Dagon 1 Sam. 5:1-5 – Philistines trying to display the ark of God as a war trophy in the house of their idol god Dagon

“Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it to the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 3 When the Ashdodites arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set him in his place again. 4 But when they arose early the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. And the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off on the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor all who enter Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.”

– Elijah battling the prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18

B. (:19) Arrogant Idol Worshippers Cannot Stand Before the Terror of the Lord

“And men will go into caves of the rocks, And into holes of the ground Before the terror of the LORD, And before the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble.”

Cf. finding Sadam Hussein cowering in a hole in the ground

On 13 December 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured by American forces at a farmhouse in ad-Dawr near Tikrit in a hole in Operation Red Dawn.

“He was caught like a rat,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno of the 4th Infantry Division at a separate press conference in Tikrit. “It was ironic that he was in a hole in the ground across the river from the great palaces her built using all the money he robbed from the Iraqi people.”,2933,105706,00.html#ixzz2H6ooSIrX

Dennis Davidson: The God from whom their self-worship has alienated them will appear, and there will be no more cause to glory in human greatness than there would be to praise a flashlight in broad daylight.

C. (:20-21) Both Idols and Idol Worshippers Looking for a Place to Hide from the Terror of the Lord and the Splendor of His Majesty

“In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs, Before the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty, When He arises to make the earth tremble.”

Motyer: Throw away is an expression of the idolater’s disgust and the idol’s lifelessness as a mere disposable object (cf. 41:5-7; 46:1-2).

Beall: The idols will do them no good at this point, only hindering their escape–so, like excess baggage, the people cast them away “to the moles and bats.”

Van Parunak: Not only do they discard them, but they defile them. The bat is unclean (Lev 11:13-19); “mole” is a hapax but is usually understood to refer to the shrew, which would be unclean like the mouse (Lev 11:29).

Rev. 6:15-17 fulfillment in the timeframe of the 6th seal:

And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”


“Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; For why should he be esteemed?”

God is Spirit – source of life – the one who breathed life into Adam and Eve

Abandon all hope and trust in man – Turn to the one who is the source and sustainer of all life

Fragile existence

Motyer: Breath is not a metaphor for transience but points to human life as derived (cf. Gn. 2:7; Is. 42:5; 57:15).


Self Absorbed . . . Abased . . . Quaking . . . Not a rosy picture painted here of the future of Jerusalem – of those with a hypocritical facade of religion

Oswalt: This verse makes it plain that the passage has not been talking chiefly about idolatry. It does not say “be done with idols.” Rather, it says Be done with man. Idolatry is a result, not a cause. It is the exaltation of man that results in idolatry. The tendency of human beings to make ourselves the center of all things and to explain all things in terms of ourselves is the problem.

For us, the point of no return has not yet been passed; the offer of salvation and refuge from the terror of the Lord still exists; God exhorts us to run to the Rock which is the Lord Jesus; to turn away from our pride and arrogance; to stop exalting ourselves and cast all of our dependence not on man whose breath is in his nostrils, but to trust in the Lord Jesus who is coming again to receive His own but to judge those who persist in rebellion