The Word Made Fresh
1This is what the LORD says:
You rebellious children who carry out a plan, but not my plan;
who make an alliance against my will, adding sin to sin;
2you who set out for Egypt without seeking my approval
to be protected by Pharaoh and seek shelter under Egypt’s rule;
3know this: the protection of Pharaoh will be to your shame
and seeking protection in Egypt’s shadow will be your
4Even though he has representatives at Zoan
and ambassadors all the way to Hanes,
5everyone will come to shame through that people who cannot help
who can offer them neither profit nor assistance,
but only disgrace and shame.
6Hear this word spoken of the animals of the Negeb:
Through a troubled and tormented land
where lioness and lion roar,
where serpent and viper are prolific,
where people carry their wealth on donkeys
and their treasures on camels,
to another people who cannot bring them profit:
7Egypt’s help is empty and worthless.
That is why I call her “Rahab who does nothing.”
8Go and write it on a tablet in their sight;
inscribe it on a scroll so it may be a witness forever.
9They are a rebellious people.
They are faithless children who will not listen to
the LORD’s instructions,
10who speak to the seers, but do not see;
and to the prophets, but do not prophesy.
Who speak easy things to us, illusions.
11Leave that path and tell us no more about the “Holy One of Israel.”
12This is what the Holy One of Israel says;
You have rejected the LORD’s word
and placed your trust in oppression and deceit.
That is what you rely on.
13So, this mistake shall become for you
Like a broken wall that bulges, ready to fall down.
The crash will come quickly and happen in an instant,
14like a potter’s vessel that is ruthlessly shattered
until not even so much as a piece is left
to take fire from the hearth
or dip water from the pool.
15This is what the LORD God says, the Holy One of Israel:
You shall be rescued to return and rest.
Your strength shall be in quietness and trust.
But you refused.
16You said, “No! We will flee on our horses!” So, flee.
You said, “We will ride on swift mounts!”
So, your pursuers shall be faster.
17Threatened by a single individual a thousand shall flee.
At the threat of five all of you shall flee
until nothing is left of you but a flagstaff on a mountain,
or a signal on a hillside.
18So, the LORD is waiting for the opportunity to be gracious to you,
and God will arise to show you mercy.
For the LORD is a just God,
and those who wait for the LORD are blessed.
19People of Zion who live in Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. God will certainly be gracious to you at the sound of your weeping and will answer when your grief is heard. 20For although the LORD may give you the bread of misfortune and the water of tribulation, your Leader will no longer hide himself, but will be seen by your very eyes. 21When you turn right or left you shall hear a word behind you, whispering, “This is the right way for you to walk.” 22Then you will destroy your silver and gold plated images and idols and scatter them like dirty rags and say, “Away with you!”
23God will send rain for the seed you have planted, and the grain will be rich and abundant. Then your cattle will graze in sweeping pastures. 24The oxen and donkeys that pull the plows will eat that which was winnowed with shovel and fork, and from the stored grain. 25On every mountain and hill there will be brooks flowing with water, and all this on a day of great slaughter when the towers are fallen. 26Not only that, on the day when the LORD binds up the people’s injuries and heals the wounds God has inflicted, the moon’s light will be like the sun, and the sun’s light will be seven times brighter like the light of seven days together.
27See the LORD’s presence approaching from far off,
rising with thick smoke and burning with anger,
God’s lips filled with indignation
and God’s tongue like a consuming fire;
28God’s breath is like a flooding stream that rises to the neck.
The nations will be sifted with the sieve of destruction,
and a bridle will be placed on the peoples’ jaws
to lead them astray.
29You will sing a song, as you did on the night you kept a holy festival. Your hearts will be glad as when you set out to go to the LORD’s Mountain, to the Rock of Israel, with the sound of the flute. 30And the LORD’s booming voice will be heard, and the sweep of God’s descending arm will be seen in fury and flame of devouring fire, and with a cloudburst and storm with hailstones. 31Assyria will be terrified at the LORD’s voice and the LORD’s chastening rod. 32Every stroke of the rod of punishment with which the LORD strikes out to him will be to the sound of timbrels and harps. The LORD will battle him with raised arms. 33Hell has long been prepared for him, made ready for the king of Assyria, its burning pyre deep and wide with wood in abundance. The breath of the LORD, like a stream of flaming sulfur, will kindle it.
1-5: It is natural for nations to seek alliances with other nations to increase their security. At the time of the Assyrian encroachment, Hezekiah sought protection from Egypt (see 2 Kings 18:21, Isaiah 36:6). Unfortunately for Judah, Egypt was not the power it had once been, and Egypt’s help would prove to be unprofitable. Isaiah saw this, or we might say God saw this and told him to warn the leaders in Jerusalem to eschew any overtures to or from Egypt.
6-7: The Negeb is the desert region south of Jerusalem through which caravans traveled back and forth between Egypt and the Middle East. The prophet sees that Hezekiah is sending the wealth of Jerusalem to Egypt needlessly.
8-14: Yet Isaiah also sees that it is not entirely Hezekiah’s fault. It is the fault of the people who are tired of hearing about the Holy One of Israel (verse 11). Because of their unwillingness to keep their covenant with God, they will be broken like a potter’s vessel.
15-17: God entreated them to stay and trust, but they are determined to take matters into their own hands.
18-22: God is waiting to restore them if only they will turn back to God. God may be letting them suffer now but is still willing to show them the way. They must, however, surrender their silver and gold plated idols. Amazing, isn’t it, that foreign gods still plague God’s people? Do you remember the scene where Joshua challenged the people to put away the foreign gods (Joshua 24:23-24)? The people swore to serve the LORD, but they never swore to get rid of the idols!
23-26: If only they will turn back to God and put away those other gods God would bless them and their land with peace and prosperity and they would see a glorious new day dawning.
27-33: To encourage their loyalty Isaiah points them toward another image; that of God doing battle against the Assyrians, who will be terror stricken at the punishment God inflicts upon them.
God is with and for God’s people everywhere and every when. The truth which we must face is that most, if not all, of our problems are of our own making. No matter; God is still for us and God is still willing to rescue us from our troubles, but God also expects us to contribute to the effort!