THREE ARGUMENTS FOR TRUSTING IN GOD INSTEAD OF IN THE WORLD
Where do we turn for help when we are in danger? Instead of putting confidence in the flesh or seeking the help of sinful men, we need to put all of our dependence in the Lord who alone is the Righteous Judge and the Victorious Warrior. He will conquer all enemies and deliver us in the day of trouble. One day in the future the nation of Israel will repent and turn back to the Lord and experience complete deliverance.
Rich Cathers: Isaiah 31 picks up where we left off in chapter 30. The nation of Judah is facing the inevitable invasion from the mighty Assyrian army. There were some counselors in King Hezekiah’s court who were trying to get Hezekiah to get help from the Egyptians. They had already sent an entourage of camels bearing gifts to beg help from the Egyptians. Yet God was desiring that the people would look to Him for help.
Warren Wiersbe: Think of the money Judah would have saved and the distress they would have avoided had they only rested in the Lord their God and obeyed His will. All their political negotiations were futile and their treaties worthless. They could trust the words of the Egyptians but not the Word of God!”
Review of Woes:
1) Chap. 28 — DISORIENTED DRUNKARDS AND SECURITY-SEEKING
SCOFFERS OF ISRAEL INDICTED – Fall of Samaria; Jerusalem in peril
2) 29:1-14 — WOE AGAINST JERUSALEM FOR RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY
3) 29: 15-24 — AGAINST THOSE WHO THINK THEY ARE SMARTER THAN GOD
= DECEIVERS AND DEFRAUDERS
4) Chap. 30 — AGAINST ALLIANCES WITH THE WORLD
THREE ARGUMENTS FOR TRUSTING IN GOD INSTEAD OF IN THE WORLD
– by way of a Reminder
– by way of Illustration
– by way of Warning
I. (:1-3) REMINDER OF THE SUPERIORITY OF GOD TO WORLDLY POWER AND WISDOM
A. (:1) Don’t Choose the Power of the World Over the Power of God
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!”
If you want to learn by experience and suffer disaster, go ahead and trust in the flesh and in man’s wisdom and see where it takes you . cf. how the modern church trusts in marketing schemes
Motyer: These images are of the adoption of worldly security: horses represent brute strength; chariots, military might; and horsemen, trained personnel.
Parunak: To “seek the Lord” is to inquire of him in time of trouble, from its very first use in Gen 25:22 on. The phrase is often translated “inquire of the Lord.” Their behavior reflects that of Ahaziah in 2 Kings 1:
2Ki 1:2-4 And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. 3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? 4 Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed.
Though Ahaziah did not send to consult the Lord, the Lord inserted a message to him anyway! Just so, Israel as God’s covenant people may wish to ignore his counsel, but Isaiah brings it anyway.
Oswalt: Not only will Egypt not be able to help, but going to her necessarily involves rejection of God. Thus Judah has not merely chosen a poorer option; she has, in fact, rejected the true in order to choose the false (cf. 30:1-18).
B. (:2) Don’t Choose the Wisdom of the World over the Wisdom of God
“Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, and does not retract His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, and against the help of the workers of iniquity.”
Irony of expression – have you considered the proven wisdom of God?
MacArthur: Sarcastically, Isaiah countered the unwise royal counselors who had advised dependence on Egypt.
Constable: The politicians in Jerusalem who advocated alliance with Egypt undoubtedly considered their policy wise (cf. 5:21; 19:11-15; 28:14-15; 30:1-2). But Isaiah, in irony, pointed out that the Lord, who purposed disaster for those who refused to trust Him, was the truly wise one. He would be faithful to His word to oppose the party of evildoers and those wicked “helpers” in whom the Judeans trusted.
Look at how negatively God characterizes Judah here: as “the house of evildoers” and “the workers of iniquity” – their physical heritage did not guarantee any spiritual loyalty or intrinsic connection with the Holy One of Israel
Oswalt: The modern church would do well to wonder whether such a denunciation could be leveled against it.
C. (:3) There is a Huge Difference Between Fleshly Power and Wisdom and Spiritual Power and Wisdom
“Now the Egyptians are men, and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit; So the LORD will stretch out His hand, and he who helps will stumble and he who is helped will fall, and all of them will come to an end together.”
* * * * * * * * * Message within a Message
1 Cor. 1:18-25
ONLY THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED IMPACTS MAN WITH THE POWER AND WISDOM OF GOD
(:18) THE RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED DIVIDES ALL MEN INTO TWO OPPOSING CAMPS
(:19-21) GOD STANDS OPPOSED TO THE WISDOM OF MEN
(:19) God Will Ultimately Destroy Human Wisdom – Prophecy from Isaiah
“For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.’”
(:20A) Human Wisdom Cannot Refute the Wisdom of God
“Where is the wise man?
Where is the scribe?
Where is the debater of this age?”
(:21-25) ONLY THE MESSAGE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION
(:21) Only the Mocked Message of the Cross Can Bring Salvation
Method Ordained by the Wisdom of God
“For since in the wisdom of God”
Failed Method of Human Wisdom
“the world through its wisdom did not come to know God”
Method Pleasing to God = The Mocked Message of the Cross
“God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
(:22-24) Christ Crucified Is the Power of God and Wisdom of God – Despite What Mockers Might Say
(:22) The World Seeks Different Solutions
(:23a) We Preach Christ Crucified – There is only one solution
(:23b) The World Mocks the Message of the Cross
(:24) The Elect Experience Christ as Both the Power and Wisdom of God
(:25) The Mocked Message of the Cross Far Exceeds Any Human Wisdom and Power
The Wisdom of God – mocked as Foolishness
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men,”
The Power of God – mocked as Weakness
“and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
* * * * * * * * *
II. (:4-5) ILLUSTRATION — TWO IMAGES OF THE INVINCIBILITY OF GOD IN PROTECTING HIS COVENANT PEOPLE
God will effectively protect His people – He is the true deliverer in contrast to the false deliverers like Egypt
Do you want to enjoy victory or defeat? Do you want God’s umbrella of protection over your life or do you want God to stalk and pursue you and hunt you down and punish you??
A. (:4) Image of Fierce, Unyielding Lion — Relentless in Protecting its Prey
“For thus says the LORD to me, ‘As the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, against which a band of shepherds is called out, will not be terrified at their voice, nor disturbed at their noise, so will the LORD of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill.’”
Don’t mess with God; you can’t scare off God
Cf. image of Satan going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour – Lord is stronger; no one can take us out of the protection of His hand
Jim Bomkamp: This is an illustration of a lion who has taken down a sheep amongst the fold and who is crouching over his captured pray, and as the shepherds over that flock begin to circle around the lion he is not the least worried or concerned about their threat or presence.
B. (:5) Image of Hovering, Protective Mother Birds — Protective in Rescuing and Delivering His Own
“Like flying birds so the LORD of hosts will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.”
Young: These two comparisons complement one another. First, God is compared with a strong lion, bold, unafraid, powerful; then with tender and loving birds which protect their nest.
Spurgeon: Let this be our comfort, that almighty love will be swift to succor and sure to cover. The wing of God is more quick and more tender than the wing of a bird, and we will put our trust under its shadow henceforth and forever.
Oswalt: This verse varies the figure by comparing God to a mother bird which flies back and forth over her nest when a predator is near, both to distract the enemy and, if necessary, to offer herself as a victim to save her little ones. . . Not only is he strong and determined, he is also personally attached to his people and will defend (or shield, as this is the verb from which that noun is derived) them, if need be, with himself.
Parunak: The second metaphor for the Lord’s protection is a flock of birds hovering over the city, ready to attack anyone who might come near. Think of the effectiveness of air power in modern warfare. How terrible it must be to any enemy to have the Lord hovering over them!
Isaiah describes the deliverance with four verbs, in two pairs.
defending also he will deliver it;–“Defend” is גנן “to fence in”; “deliver” is נצל “to snatch away,
remove,” used in Amos 3:12 of a shepherd taking prey away from a lion! First we have a protective action, then removal from the threat.
The same two actions are presented in the second couplet:
and passing over he will preserve it.–“Passing over” is the same verb that describes the Lord’s
relation to the angel of death in the tenth plague in Exod 12. A better translation is “hover over.” It describes, not the Lord’s passive neglect in judging them, but his active protection.
III. (:6-9) WARNING TO TRUST GOD ALONE AND ESCAPE THE FIRE OF HIS JUDGMENT
A. (:6) Call to Repentance
“Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected, O sons of Israel.”
B. (:7) Condemnation of Idolatry as Worthless, Ineffective and Evil
“For in that day every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your hands have made as a sin.”
Idols look very valuable (made of silver and gold), but have proven worthless and powerless.
No power in these idols
No wisdom in these idols
C. (:8) Certainty of Divine Judgment on Assyria . . . Anti-Christ
“And the Assyrian will fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of man will devour him. So he will not escape the sword, And his young men will become forced laborers.”
Take advantage of the forgiveness God offers now; God has promised what the future holds in store for those who insist on trusting in the flesh instead of in Him
Near term and eschatological reference – to Anti-Christ ultimately
Parunak: Assyria’s end does not come through humans. When God chastises his people, it is usually through humans. Assyria is his “rod” (10:5), the instrument of correction (Prov 13:24; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15), to discipline Israel. But the destruction of Assyria, as of unbelievers in general (cf. the Flood) will be directly from God’s hand.
MacArthur: The defeat of Assyria by other than human means matched this prophecy well (see 37:36,37), but other such foreign oppressors meet the same fate in the distant future of Israel, during the time of Jacob’s trouble (cf. Jer 30:7).
D. (:9a) Confidence Reduced to Panic and Terror
“And his rock will pass away because of panic,
And his princes will be terrified at the standard,”
“rock” = fortress, place of strength
Motyer: speaks of the king of Assyria contrasting with the “Rock of Israel”
Oswalt: Proposals [for the identification of the rock] have included the god Ashur, the city of Nineveh, and King Sennacherib. . . Perhaps the sense is “all his confidence will pass away.” . . When God raises his ensign against the powers of this world, not even the mightiest can stand against him.
E. (:9b) Centrality of Jerusalem for Caldron of Fire for Worship and Wrath
“Declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.”
Beall: “whose fire is in Zion” means that Jerusalem is the hearth on which the flame of God burns.
Young: The reference is to the fire burning continually upon the altar of burnt offering. Parallel to the “fire” is the “furnace” in Jerusalem by which the prophet designates the burning wrath of God. On the altar there is the sacred fire and in Jerusalem the wrath of God’s presence, which will consume the enemies of the nation.
Oswalt: That flame denotes both God’s sanctity and his destructive power.
Some trust in
– Prestige and Popularity
“Some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” – Ps. 20:7