The Word Made Fresh
1Prepare to blow the trumpet!
Disaster is hanging over the house of the LORD
because they have disregarded my covenant
and acted unlawfully.
2Israel cries out to me, “We are Israel! You are our God. We know you!”
3But Israel has turned away from what is good,
and they will be pursued by enemies.
4They anointed kings, but not the ones I chose.
They crowned princes without first consulting with me.
They made idols of silver and gold to their own ruin.
5Your idols are rejected, Samaria.
My anger burns hot because of them.
How long will you be so incapable of faithfulness?
6They are made by artisans from Israel, not from God.
Samaria’s calf idol will be shattered to smithereens.
7You sow wind, and reap whirlwind.
The grain standing in the fields have no heads,
and they will yield no food for you.
If they did, foreigners would gobble it up.
8Israel is useless, swallowed up by the nations around them.
9They wandered up to Assyria like a lone wild donkey,
and Ephraim sought to purchase lovers.
10But even though they have bargained with other nations,
I will gather them in,
and they will squirm under the burden of kings and princes.
11Ephraim built many altars to atone for sins,
but they became altars to multiply their sins.
12I had written down the many laws I had given them,
but they gave my laws no credence.
13Even though they sacrifice unblemished animals and eat the flesh,
the LORD does not accept them, and will remember their sinfulness,
punish their sins, and they will return to Egypt.
14Israel has forgotten who made them, and have built palaces.
Judah has fortified many cities,
but I will send fire and burn them
and destroy his fortresses.
1-6: The trumpet is sounded to herald the beginning of God’s actions against Israel. The charges against Israel continue to be catalogued: they have spurned God’s ways in spite of claiming to know God. The kings of Israel have not been chosen by God as have been the kings of Judah who were all descended from David. The man who made himself their first king, Jeroboam, set up golden calves at Bethel and at Dan in Samaria (1 Kings 12:25-13:34; 2 Kings 17:14-23).
7-10: Israel has bargained with Assyria instead of turning to God, and God will now allow them to be conquered and scattered.
11-14: Their establishment of a rival cult so their people wouldn’t have to go to Jerusalem to make offerings was the beginning of their downward spiral. “They shall return to Egypt” is a metaphor for being returned to slavery by foreign rulers. Judah, too, has forsaken the true worship of God, and their time of punishment will come.
Isaiah insists that God will turn against those who have turned against God, as evidenced by their behavior. His description of their punishment is not just punishment – it is the certain outcome of their behavior. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. (Sir Walter Scott). We cannot deceive God because God knows our intensions.