Our last reading this week: Isaiah 30:1-7
As people of faith, we are called to demonstrate faith by trusting G-d. This trust is most noticeable (or absent) by how we hold up during very difficult or hard situations in our lives. Our words and actions during trying times speak volumes about our trust in G-d. The children of Israel were not willing to demonstrate trust, as they did not have faith. Difficult circumstances are an opportunity for us to demonstrate faith. They are an opportunity for us to show testimony that we belong to G-d and that we have faith in Him to move in our circumstances so that we are able to be overcomers (Revelation 2 and 3). Israel was not interested in being a faithful witness. They were not interested in demonstrating trust.
v1: Woe: This speaks of the people having a dismal and awful future if they do not repent and change their ways.
- Rebellious: This is the same word used in Deut 21:18 to speak of a stubborn and rebellious young man. His parents had taught him, they had educated him in the things of G-d. They had disciplined him when he had gone astray. However, nothing caused this young man to behave properly. He was a great menace to society. He was a danger and a threat and, as a last resort, his parents had to bring him before the elders at the city gate for judgment. On the parent’s testimony that their son was unwilling to hear their words of instruction, that he had rebelled and utterly rejected the things of G-d and could not be controlled, the young man received a death sentence and was put to death. This is the same word that G-d is using to describe the children of Israel. If they do not change, they are going to experience the consuming judgment of G-d.
- Counsel: They plan their actions, but do not include G-d in their plans.
- Devise plans (literally: Cover it up): The words used here have to do with pouring water on the situation (they try to downplay what they have done by attempting to get it to sound not so bad) in order to cover up their guilt.
- Add sin to sin: Being sinful is what motivates them. They are not interested in the righteousness of G-d. If we set aside the righteousness of G-d for our own plans, or if we believe that our destiny should turn out exactly as we want it to be, then we are no different to the children of Israel.
v2: Walk to go down to Egypt: They know that judgment is coming but instead of seeking help from G-d they look to their enemies for deliverance (Isaiah 31:1, Jer 17:5-8). Biblically Egypt is a metaphor for the world. The children of Israel were trusting in worldly means, in worldly provision, rather than in the promises of G-d.
- Have not asked My advice: They are not interested in speaking to G-d and getting revelation from Him. They do not want to be in the presence of G-d. This shows that they have no trust and do not walk in faith. They are not interested in what G-d can do, but they want to take care of the matter themselves, in their own way.
v3: Note: Because the children of Israel trusted in Pharoah (Egypt, the world) rather than in G-d they will not have a pleasing testimony. Trust in the world (trust in man) leads to shame and humiliation.
v4: Princes: The leading government or cabinet officials in the land. They left Jerusalem, the land of Israel, and went to this well-known place (Zoan – Num 13:22) in Egypt.
- Ambassadors: These were the messengers – those who were supposed to take the truth to the people.
- Hanes: They did not go to encourage the people of Israel, instead they went to this place called Hanes. According to Jewish tradition, this was a royal city of great wealth. These messenger’s chose financial security rather than trusting G-d and being faithful stewards of His Word. These princes and ambassadors demonstrate a lack of trust and faith. They are rebellious in the things and the purposes of G-d.
v5: Ashamed: (literally a stench): What they are doing shows a spiritual decay of the leadership.
- Could not benefit them: This lack of trust in G-d is of no benefit to the people.
Note: Biblically there are one or two possible extremes that people (we) will find themselves in. Either they are going to experience shame (and be a stench in G-d’s nostrils) or they are going to be rewarded (and a sweet-smelling aroma in G-d’s nostrils). With G-d there is no middle ground – either we are classified as hot or cold (Lukewarm has no place in G-d’s vocabulary, and it joins the “side” of cold – Rev 3:16)
v6: Note: This is a message to the animals in the land of trouble and distress.
- South (literally: Negev): A desert region in the south of Israel. Egypt is also to the south of Israel.
- Lioness and the lion: Two different words are given for a lion.
- The viper and the fiery flying serpent: This also mentions two different kinds of snakes. A viper is a regular kind of snake whose bite is very harmful. The viper is seen as an instrument of suffering. The fiery flying (jumping) snake is a snake that causes great fear because it suddenly seems to appear out of nowhere.
- Backs of young donkeys … humps of camels: The people are fleeing from the land of Israel; they have loaded up the camels and donkeys with their treasured possessions. The fact that they are fleeing from the Promised Land shows that they really do not seek the promises of G-d. They are not committed to the promises G-d made to Israel. If the people wanted to be a part of the promises they would have been committed to the land of Israel (eg: Elimelech left Israel because he did not trust in the G-d of Israel – Ruth 1:1-2. Boaz stayed in the land of Israel, and he was abundantly blessed).
v7: For the Egyptians shall help in vain and to no purpose: The children of Israel will turn to Egypt for help, but Egypt will not help them, as all Egypt can think of is themselves.
- Rahab: A term for pride or arrogance.
- Hem: Them
- Shebeth: Idle. Egypt is going to be idle. They are not going to respond to the people of Israel and their matters. Egypt is not their hope for deliverance. All of Egypt’s promises are empty, vain and come to nothing.