WHEN GOD SPRINGS INTO VISIBLE AND DRAMATIC ACTION, THE DESTROYER IS DESTROYED AND GOD’S PEOPLE ARE DELIVERED
Accountability is coming says the Lord and He will destroy Judah’s enemies and deliver His people. It might look like the Lord is silent; but He will arise and spring into action and sovereignly put down the destroyer in order to establish justice and righteousness in the Promised Land.
As we get to this 6th and final Woe of our section which began back in Chap. 28, we see the same type of near term and far term reference that we would expect. In the near term, the destroyer is the godless nation of Assyria under the leadership of Sennacherib – making a treaty with Judah and accepting her tribute money but still coming to her doorstep in 701 B.C. with the intention of destroying Jerusalem; However, God mercifully intervened and drove them off;
In the end times, the AntiChrist will arise and make a covenant with the Jews – appearing to be her friend and advocate (Daniel 9:27). But in the middle of the 7 year Tribulation Period, he will break that covenant in a treacherous way and unleash the power of wicked nations in a last ditch attempt to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Once again, God will intervene and arise in judgment on the destroyer and deliverance for Zion.
Remember the important scriptural principle:
Gal. 6:7 – “Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap” — Sin has Consequences
Accountability is coming. There will come a day when God arises – look at that emphasis in
verses 3 and 10.
WHEN GOD SPRINGS INTO VISIBLE AND DRAMATIC ACTION, THE DESTROYER IS DESTROYED AND GOD’S PEOPLE ARE DELIVERED
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking that God is passive. Your sins will find you out. You need to have your sins covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. God will arise and there will be ultimate accountability. Jesus Christ came the first time to bring salvation; but He will return the second time to judge the earth and usher in justice and righteousness.
TWO MOVEMENTS to this great symphony describing the Lord’s Judgment and Deliverance – at the heart of each is this emphasis on the Lord arising and springing into action to bring accountability and to establish justice and righteousness
Not a logical, linear development of thought here; more of a cyclical repetition by way of emphasis
I. (:1-6) FIRST MOVEMENT: JUDGMENT AND DELIVERANCE
A. (:1) Judgment Pronounced — Woe Leveled for Two Evil Behaviors
1. Destructive Behavior
“Woe to you, O destroyer, While you were not destroyed; . . .
As soon as you shall finish destroying, you shall be destroyed;”
Plunders other nations; takes their treasure
Constable: The destroyer and treacherous one in view is Assyria. So far Assyria had practiced destruction and treachery without having them come back on her, but eventually they would (cf. Deut. 19:18-19). Sennacherib accepted a large sum of money that King Hezekiah sent to him so he would not besiege Jerusalem, but Sennacherib accepted the money and attacked Jerusalem anyway (2 Kings 18:13-17). That is treachery. Yahweh was the opposite of the Assyrian king. He was always true to His promises, and the Davidic kings were to follow His example as His vice-regents. To behave the opposite from how God behaves is to court divine discipline.
Beall: however, much of the language seems to go beyond this event to the battle of Armageddon and the millennial reign to follow. Again, the specific instance is used as a backdrop for the eschatological picture.
This cycle has repeated itself throughout history of Israel; nations rise up to do them harm; it appears that God is passive and not intervening; then those wicked nations are extinguished
2. Treacherous Behavior
“And he who is treacherous, while others did not deal treacherously with him. . .
As soon as you shall cease to deal treacherously, others shall deal treacherously with you.”
Can’t be trusted to keep agreements and treaties
Oswalt: As the royal annals demonstrate, Assyria took great pride in her capacity to destroy anyone who had the temerity to stand against her. By the same token, she had no qualms about breaking agreements which were not to her advantage, all the while punishing with great severity any who broke agreements with her.
Parunak: The judgment is a reflection of a fundamental principle throughout Scripture. Assyria will be treated as it has treated others.
This is a fundamental principle of the Mosaic law:
Deu 19:21 And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
David observed that this happens even apart from the intervention of the courts (Psa 7:15-16):
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate after the captivity and return, even among the Jews who remained in dispersion,
Est 7:10 they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.
B. (:2) Deliverance Prayed for – Grace, Perseverance and Deliverance in the Lord
This is the Plea of Isaiah for the remnant people of God in the Tribulation Period – with application to the immediate present
1. Plea for Grace
“O LORD, be gracious to us; we have waited for Thee.”
Can’t earn or merit God’s grace; have to learn to wait humbly upon the Lord; we do not know when and how He will act in our situation
2. Plea for Strength and Perseverance
“Be Thou their strength every morning,”
Especially needed at the end of the Tribulation period; difficult to even make it through the day;
3. Plea for Deliverance
“Our salvation also in the time of distress.”
Beall: They are in trouble, and ask for the Lord’s arm of salvation to be stretched out once again (as in the parting of the Red Sea–see Exod 14:13-22; 15:6, 12).
C. (:3-4) Dramatic Judgment Effects of God Springing Into Action –
Dispersal and Looting of the Wicked Nations
What happens when God lifts Himself up? When He arises and springs into visible action?
“At the sound of the tumult peoples flee;
At the lifting up of Thyself nations disperse.”
God will break these wicked nations into little pieces; they can try to run but they can’t escape the judgment of God; this is a judgment that God will execute Himself; doesn’t need any help to put these wicked nations down
“And your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
As locusts rushing about, men rush about on it.”
Constable: When the Lord arose against Israel’s enemies, the battle would be over almost as soon as it had started (cf. Rev. 19:19-20). The Jerusalemites would loot the spoils of war as voraciously as caterpillars and as swiftly as locusts (cf. 37:36-37).
D. (:5-6) Dramatic Deliverance Effects of God Springing Into Acton –
Exaltation of the Lord in Jerusalem
Nothing good happens apart from the godly judgments that are executed; today people shy away from the idea of godly judgment – “Judge not” they cry out; certainly they don’t want to see the church exercise any form of discipline – “Who are you to cast the first stone” they cry out –
But they fail to understand that no justice and righteousness can be displayed without the carrying out of godly judgments
1. The Transcendence of the Lord
“The LORD is exalted, for He dwells on high;”
Beall: Vv 5-6 conclude the introductory section by seeing the result of the Lord’s deliverance of His people: the Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high (He is the one who is truly superior, not Egypt or Assyria–contrast Isa 10:9-11, 15; 36:18-20; 37:10-24).
2. The Trademark of His Reign = Justice and Righteousness
“He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness.”
Parunak: The motifs of the Lord’s exaltation in Zion and the proliferation of judgment and righteousness show that Isaiah is here referring to the day of the Lord, the Messianic age
3. The Totality of His Sufficiency
“And He shall be the stability of your times,
A wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;”
Parunak: “Strength” means “wealth,” that which is protected by strength, cf. Jer 20:5; Ezek 22:25; Pr 15:6; 27:24. The verse is thus enumerating the kinds of wealth that will enrich the capital when the Lord rules there. Israel will spoil the Assyrians (v. 4), but that is not what will ultimately bring them “stability of thy times.” His treasury will be filled, not with the silver and gold captured from the Assyrians, but with salvation, wisdom, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord. . .
Two verses in Proverbs suggest an important distinction between wisdom and knowledge. We have seen that Isaiah frequently refers to Proverbs, and he may have these verses in mind:
Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Pro 30:3 (Agur:) I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.
In these verses, wisdom is our understanding of the world around us, but the object of knowledge is specifically the Lord himself. In 9:10, “knowledge of the holy” is parallel to “fear of the Lord,” which is even more explicit in Pro 2:5,
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
We also see this pairing in 11:2, the Messianic endowment of the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD where both knowledge and fear have the Lord as their object. In other words, wisdom is horizontal, while knowledge is vertical. Wisdom enables us to live skillfully in the world, in keeping with the law of the Lord, but knowledge brings us into intimate fellowship with the Law-giver himself.
4. The Treasure = the Lord
“The fear of the LORD is his treasure.”
Ironside: The hearts of those who confide in Him are moved to worship and thanksgiving as they see by faith His kingdom established over all the earth. It is surely a grievous misapplication of the scope of the prophetic Scriptures to spiritualize all this and to make Zion mean the Church, the Body of Christ. Throughout all these chapters every sober expositor recognizes the fact that the judgments predicted have fallen or are yet to fall upon the Jews or their oppressors.
Surely then, it is very inconsistent to apply the blessings to the Church of the present age. Certainly the same people who have suffered at the hands of the Gentiles because of their disobedience to the Word of God are identical, nationally, with those who will participate in the privileges of the kingdom of God when it is set up in this world and Mount Zion will be the center of blessing for the whole earth.
II. (:7-12) SECOND MOVEMENT – JUDGMENT AND DELIVERANCE
A. (:7-9) Desperate Times Cry Out for Divine Intervention
1. (:7-8a) God’s People Look Defeated and Hopeless
a. Impact on the Military – Futility of Human Power
“Behold, their brave men cry in the streets,”
b. Impact on the Diplomatic Corps – Futility of Human Wisdom
“The ambassadors of peace weep bitterly.”
c. Impact on the Economic and Social Systems – Futility of Human Wealth
“The highways are desolate, the traveler has ceased,”
2. (:8b) The AntiChrist Looks Arrogant and Untouchable
“He has broken the covenant,
he has despised the cities,
He has no regard for man.”
3. (:9) The Promised Land Looks Sad and Devastated
“The land mourns and pines away,
“Lebanon is shamed and withers;
Sharon is like a desert plain,
And Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage.”
Jim Bomkamp: We see in these verses that the Assyrian king had broken his covenant he had made with Hezekiah, and despised the cities of Judea in the process, and had no regard for mankind at all. The result of this is that most of the people had migrated from the cities of Judea to Jerusalem for protection and thus the highways were now desolate and deserted, Lebanon had withered, Sharon had become like a desert plain, and Bashan and Carmel had lost their foliage.
John Martin: Lebanon, north of Israel and well known for its cedar forests, would wither. Sharon was the coastal plain south of Mount Carmel extending inland to the hill country of Ephraim. A fertile area, Sharon would become a desert like the Arabah (which means “arid” or “dry”), the desolate rift valley extending from the Dead Sea south to the Gulf of Aqabah. Bashan (“fertile plain”), east of the Sea of Kinnereth (later named the Sea of Galilee), was productive agriculturally (cf. Jer. 50:19) and known for its oak trees (Isa. 2:13; Ezek. 27:6; Micah 7:14; Zech. 11:2). Carmel (“fruitful land”) was a mountain range thickly forested and well watered at that time. This destruction would show that the people could not save themselves.
B. (:10) Deliverance Associated with the Exaltation of God
“’Now I will arise,’ says the LORD,
‘Now I will be exalted, now I will be lifted up.’”
Once again, at the heart of the movement, we see the key phrase: “Now I will arise” – scoffers mock the Lord’s promises about accountability at the Lord’s Second Coming – 2 Pet. 3:3
“Up from the grace He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes”
Oswalt: Now appears three times in this short verse, before each verbal phrase. If the believer is called to abandon his or her own haste in patient waiting on the Lord, it is with the certainty that there always comes a divine “Now!” One part of the importance of waiting is so that we will be sensitive to recognize God’s moment when it does come (cf. Simeon’s prayer, Luke 2:25-32). Those who are consumed by their own plans are always taken unaware by God’s word. Nor is it surprising that God’s “now” follows the hopeless setting depicted in vv. 7-9. Human failure is divine opportunity.
C. (:11-12) Judgment Executed in the Last Days
1. (:11) Accountability — Sin and Consequences – Imagery of Pregnancy
“You have conceived chaff,
you will give birth to stubble;
My breath will consume you like a fire.”
Young: Isaiah does not at all deny that the enemy is active. By addressing it as pregnant, he means that it is full of plans and schemes which it is seeking to carry out. In discharging them, however, it will fail; and all that it will bring forth is as chaff. Likewise, in the actual birth or bringing forth, the enemy will produce nothing but stubble. The entirety of the enemy’s purposes, their conception and their accomplishment, is a vanity. They strive and labor to no profit; they will be frustrated for they are fighting against the Lord of hosts. Hay, chaff, and stubble burn easily; they are readily consumed; they have no endurance, and so it will be with the plans of the enemy; they will readily come to naught.
2. (:12) Divine Wrath — Judgment and Effects – Imagery of Limestone and Thorns
“And the peoples will be burned to lime,
Like cut thorns which are burned in the fire.”
Oswalt: The metaphors used here emphasize the completeness of the destruction to come. So when a rock like limestone is burned it is reduced to dust (note Amos 2:1 for a similar usage); and despite the hazardous nature of thorns when they are alive, once they are cut and dried, fire can consume them almost completely in a very short time. So it would be with Assyria and later with Babylon. For all their pomp and glory, ach one’s collapse came with great suddenness.
Do you need God to rise up and take action for you in your situation? Pray to God for His grace; for His strength; for His deliverance. Lift God up and exalt Him in your heart and in your worship; recognize and appreciate His sovereignty – He will enforce accountability – He will judge in His time – He will deliver in His time.