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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 28: Woe to the leaders of Ephraim and Judah



1.4 Warnings & Jerusalem's hope Ch.28-35

1.4.1 Warnings

Ch.28 – Woe to the leaders of Ephraim and Judah

Ch.29 – Woe to Jerusalem

Ch.30 – Woe to Israel for obstinate rejection of God

Ch.31 – Woe to Israel relying on Egypt for deliverance from the Assyrians

1.4.2 Judgments with Hope

Ch.32 – The Coming of Disaster then a new era of Righteousness & Blessing

Ch.33 – Judgment on the Invader (Assyria), blessing on Jerusalem

Ch.34 – Judgment against the nations & Edom

Ch.35 – Transformation for the returning redeemed


This Chapter

Pt.1: Against Israel

v.1-4 God is going to bring Samaria down

v.5,6 A future hope – God in charge

v.7-10 The folly of the foolish who fail to learn

v.11-13 So God will speak through an invader and start from scratch in Israel

Pt.2: Against Judah

v.14,15 Jerusalem foolishly thinks she is secure

v.16,17 But God is going to start over afresh with them

v.18-20 Their security will be proved false

v.21-23 But yet the Lord will eventually rise up on behalf of His people

Pt.3: A Teaching Appendix

v.24-29 Learn God's design from the farmer


[Introductory Comment: In this chapter the prophetic word returns to the present after having peered into the distant future. The prophecy bring rebuke to the north, Israel [v.1-13] AND to the south, Judah [v.14-23] with what might be called a teaching appendix for both at the end of the chapter [v.24-29]


Part 1: The Lord warns that He is going to act against Samaria [v.1-4], by the end of which He will reign over them in a new way [v.5,6]. At the moment though, their spiritual leaders are a mess [v.7,8] acting like spoilt little children refusing to learn [v.9,10] so if they won't listen to Him, He will bring an invader [Assyria] who will teach them to start learning about who they are from scratch [v.11-13].


Part 2: The focus turns to Judah and Jerusalem, to rulers who are described as boasting scoffers [v.14,15] who [implied] have put their trust in idols who they think will protect them, but God is going to make a fresh start with them, laying the first guide-stone for a new foundation [v.16] that will bring a sense of security to whoever trusts in it. Justice and righteousness will be the guiding lines for the new building [v.17] and lies and secretiveness will be swept away. Indeed their trust in their idols will also be swept away [v.18] as an invading scourge will sweep clean [v.19] and none will escape it [v.20]. But then quite amazingly, against all the odds the Lord will rise up against the enemy [v.21]. The passage finishes with a warning not to mock the prophet's word [v.22] but to carefully listen and hold on to what he says [v.23].


Part 3: The final passage is an exhortation to observe the wisdom of a farmer, who has learnt his wisdom from observing God's design. The lessons are not applied to their current situation so any thoughts must be speculative. He starts with ploughing [v.24] – turning the nation over in preparation for something new? The farmer doesn't keep on doing it, thus it will not last forever this upheaval. When he sows seed, the farmer uses a variety of seeds to achieve a broad harvest [v.25] as God has taught him [v.26]. God's new creative work is extensive. To release the seed from the harvested crops, requires a different approach to each [v.27]. God knows exactly how to bring forth the fruit of His endeavours. To prepare the grain further to make bread, again requires different approaches for different seed [v.28], again all according to God's design [v.29]. The overall lesson? God has designed His world to work in specific ways and to think you know better and live at odds with His design will only bring heartache and failure.

A content-rich chapter with many lessons to be observed.]



PART ONE: v.1-13: Against Israel


v.1-4 God is going to bring Samaria down


v.1 (Graphic pictures of Samaria) Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
    to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
set on the head of a fertile valley –
    to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!
v.2 (The Lord has an invader [that history shows was Assyria] to throw them down) See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.
    Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,
like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,
    he will throw it forcefully to the ground.
v.3 (The crown that the drunkards of Israel imagine they wear will be trampled by the invader) That wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
    will be trampled underfoot.
v.4 (Samaria will be taken by the invader) That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
    set on the head of a fertile valley,
will be like figs ripe before harvest –
    as soon as people see them and take them in hand,
    they swallow them.



v.5,6 A future hope – God in charge


v.5 (When that happens, the remnant will make God their ruler) In that day the Lord Almighty
    will be a glorious crown,
a beautiful wreath
    for the remnant of his people.
v.6 (God will enable the leader to bring justice to the people and ward off their enemy…) He will be a spirit of justice
    to the one who sits in judgment,
a source of strength
    to those who turn back the battle at the gate.



v.7-10 The folly of the foolish who fail to learn


v.7 (…but the spiritual leadership are drunk and useless) And these also stagger from wine
    and reel from beer:
priests and prophets stagger from beer
    and are befuddled with wine;
they reel from beer,
    they stagger when seeing visions,
    they stumble when rendering decisions.
v.8 (their lives are a mess) All the tables are covered with vomit
    and there is not a spot without filth.

v.9 (God's not trying to teach little children but leaders) ‘Who is it he is trying to teach?
    To whom is he explaining his message?
To children weaned from their milk,
    to those just taken from the breast?
v.10 (They mock the Law) For it is:
    do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there.'



v.11-13 So God will speak through an invader and start from scratch in Israel


v.11 (So God will speak to them through an invader…) Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues
    God will speak to this people,
v.12 (… to a people who refused to let Him lead them into a place of rest with Him) to whom he said,
    ‘This is the resting-place, let the weary rest';
and, ‘This is the place of repose'–
    but they would not listen.
v.13 (So God will teach them the absolute basics) So then, the word of the Lord to them will become:
    do this, do that,
    a rule for this, a rule for that;
    a little here, a little there –
so that as they go they will fall backwards;
    they will be injured and snared and captured.



PART TWO: v.14-23: Against Judah, a fresh start


v.14,15 Jerusalem foolishly thinks she is secure


v.14 (So listen to this you rulers ….) Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers
    who rule this people in Jerusalem.
v.15 (… you who think nothing can touch you) You boast, ‘We have entered into a covenant with death,
    with the realm of the dead we have made an agreement.
When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
    it cannot touch us,
for we have made a lie our refuge
    and falsehood our hiding-place.'



v.16,17 But God is going to start over afresh with them


v.16 (So God says He's starting to lay a new foundation for this people and whoever trusts in it will never fear) So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
    a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it
    will never be stricken with panic.
v.17 (Justice & righteousness will rule while lies will be swept away) I will make justice the measuring line
    and righteousness the plumb-line;
hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie,
    and water will overflow your hiding-place.


v.18-20 Their security will be proved false


v.18 (Your sense of security will go when the invader comes…) Your covenant with death will be annulled;
    your agreement with the realm of the dead will not stand.
When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by,
    you will be beaten down by it.
v.19 (… and you will be carried away) As often as it comes it will carry you away;
    morning after morning, by day and by night,
    it will sweep through.'

The understanding of this message
    will bring sheer terror.
v.20   (There will be no place that is secure) The bed is too short to stretch out on,
    the blanket too narrow to wrap around you.


v.21-23 But yet the Lord will eventually rise up on behalf of His people


v.21 (The Lord will step up to conquer enemies as before) The Lord will rise up as he did at Mount Perazim, [see 2 Sam 5:20]
    he will rouse himself as in the Valley of Gibeon –
[see 2 Sam 5:22-25]]
to do his work, his strange work,
    and perform his task, his alien task.
v.22 (Don't mock, this IS going to happen) Now stop your mocking,
    or your chains will become heavier;
the Lord, the Lord Almighty, has told me
    of the destruction decreed against the whole land.

v.23 (Take note of what I'm saying) Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.


PART THREE: v.24-29: A teaching appendix


v.24-29 Learn God's design from the farmer


v.24 (Think how a farmer works- he doesn't keep on ploughing) When a farmer ploughs for planting, does he plough continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
v.25 (He's wise about what he sows) When he has levelled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
    barley in its plot,
    and spelt in its field?
v.26 (He has let God teach him how to do it) His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way.

v.27 (He knows how to treat different crops when harvested) Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
    nor is the cartwheel rolled over cummin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
    and cummin with a stick.
v.28 (He knows how to prepare flour) Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it for ever.
The wheels of a threshing-cart may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain.
v.29 (This is all by God's design) All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.



Continue to Chapter 29