Our next reading is Isaiah 31
G-d wants us to realise that He is greater than all things. When we encounter difficult situations, we need to look to Him for help and not rely on human provision. G-d can use humans to provide His help, but it should never be to a human that we look to as our primary source or first port of call. When we do not trust G-d, the implications are disastrous.
v1: Woe: How awful something is going to be if repentance does not take place. It is not going to end well if there is no change.
- Egypt: Prophetically Egypt is related to the world. When the word ‘Egypt’ is used in prophecy, it is simply teaching us about not relying upon the world but relying upon the King of the true Kingdom for His truth and provision.
- Go down to Egypt for help: They are looking for worldly provision, a worldly solution to their problems. The consequences of this are going to be awful, it is not going to end well. We are going to be terribly disappointed if we rely on earthly means for our salvation.
- Chariots …they are many: Egypt had an abundance of chariots. This however in no way can compare to the power and provision of G-d.
- Horsemen: Soldiers who rode upon horses.
- Very strong: Egypt was a strong military power. G-d, however, does not see the world as any match for Himself.
- Holy: Holiness is always related to the purposes of G-d. This is a very important Biblical principle: When we are thinking about, committed to, and passionate about the purpose (will) of G-d, then, when opposition arises, we are going to naturally look to G-d for the solution. When we are trying to fulfil our own will and purpose then when opposition arises, we are going to look to the world for help. Being focused upon the purposes of G-d will keep us mindful of G-d – His presence, His provision, His power in our lives.
- Seek: This is literally the word for ‘desire’. It is a word of strong or passionate demand. Desiring G-d is what we should be doing. There is a degree of exclusiveness attached to this word. Our minds should not be on worldly things but first and foremost, exclusively, on the L-rd and His will and purpose. We are not dependent upon the things of this world but are very dependent upon G-d’s presence and provision in our lives (His insight, His wisdom, His counsel).
v2: Disaster: ‘Evil’ is the literal word that is used here. Evil is anything which is contrary to G-d’s plans and purposes. G-d’s plans and purposes would be considered ‘good’. Faithlessness, men violating the principles of G-d (not relying on or trusting in Him) and not receiving the goodness of His plan causes G-d to move in a way that is contrary to what men (and Himself) would desire. G-d wants to provide a full and abundant life for all people (that is His good and perfect will for mankind), but He will move against that will when we behave in a way that is not mindful of Him.
- Will not call back His words: What G-d has said G-d does. G-d never makes empty threats or promises, but He makes good on all that He has said. G-d speaks truth – exactly what is right and proper for a given situation.
- Arise against: G-d is going to rise up against those who do evil in order to discipline or punish them.
- Evildoers: Those who violate truth.
- The help: Referring to Egypt and those who wickedly help Israel to continue on in her wickedness and rebellion. Israel do not want to turn to G-d, as they know He will not help them to achieve their own wicked and sinful desires. Egypt, however, will gladly help her achieve her sinful desires and personal objectives.
v3: The Egyptians are men, and not G-d: It is not wise to place our trust and futures on human beings (Matt 10:28).
- Their horses are flesh, and not spirit: The spirit is greater than the flesh. The Spirit is frequently related to the purpose or order of G-d (Gen 1:2). It is the Spirit of G-d who brings things into the framework that G-d wants. These people are not interested in the purposes and order of G-d.
- The L-rd stretches out His hand: This is an idiom for G-d exercising His authority (in other words, He is going to manifest His power).
- He who helps: Referring to Egypt
- Fall down: Stumble. This is a word that means to fail.
- He who is helped: Referring to Israel.
- All perish together: They will all experience disaster together. Rather than eternal life, they are going to be confronted with their mortality.
v4: The L-rd has spoken to me: Isaiah is hearing from G-d.
- Roars: (literally the word for meditates): The word used here speaks of concentration and focus.
- A young lion over his prey: The image here is of a lion just having killed its prey. Very little will distract it from eating its kill.
- (Literally: Shepherds will call to him): They will try to get the lion’s attention by yelling at him etc.
- So the L-rd of hosts will come down: In the same way that the lion cannot be disturbed from its kill is the same way that G-d will be focussed on carrying out His discipline or punishment. There is going to be no human intervention that is going to hinder, distract or cause G-d to not be able to fulfil what He has intended to do.
- L-rd of hosts: L-rd of the armies.
- Come down: This is a word of manifestation, a word of G-d’s presence.
- Fight (war) for Mount Zion: This is G-d’s objective. He is going to act and behave for Mount Zion. Mount Zion is a Kingdom term.
- For its hill: Many of the Rabbinical sources see this as relating to the temple mount. The temple mount should cause us to think of worship. Israel is not behaving in a worshipful manner. G-d is not the priority or focus of their lives. Because of this, G-d is going to move in great power in order to restore their Kingdom focus and to bring about worship. It is only worship that will put the people in the right condition to hear from G-d and behave properly.
v5: Like birds flying about: Birds are quick to respond. When they hear a noise or see a slight movement they scatter immediately. Birds move quickly.
- So will the L-rd of hosts defend: G-d is going to be quick to respond. There will be no delay. He will move to quickly defend Jerusalem.
- Passing over: This is a term used for redemption (eg: The Passover). G-d is going to move in a way that brings redemption and salvation (rescue and deliverance) to His people. Through repentance we find a way of escape. G-d is going to move in a redemptive way to bring about escape, deliverance and an exit from sin for His people.
v6: Return: This is a word of repentance. G-d is calling the children of Israel to repentance.
- Him: The L-rd G-d.
- Deeply revolted (Literally: Led deep into rebellion): The children of Israel had fallen deeply into rebellion. They needed to repent from this. Their only hope is turning to G-d.
v7: Day: Judgment Day. This phrase always has end time/last day application. It is a clear reference to a future event.
- Idols of silver…of gold: Israel will be in idolatry up until the very end. This will be their mentality – a love of silver and gold (idols) – until G-d brings about the final repentance.
- Throw away: Despise. A word of loathing and rejection.
- Sin, which your own hands have made: The implication is that idolatry (having the mindset and desire to pursue what we want) ends in sin. Sin brings about judgment. G-d will use that judgment to bring about repentance!
v8: Assyria: Assyria was a vast and strong empire. It was an empire that covered a large land mass, and they overthrew many nations in the world. This is reminiscent of (it parallels) what we should expect concerning the last empire (ie the antichrist empire – the last/final day enemy).
- Fall: The destiny of the enemy is that they are going to fall, they are going to be devoured – not through human means, but by G-d Himself (Rev 19:15, 2 Thess 2:8).
- He: Referring to Assyria, but written in the singular (ie the leader of this empire/the antichrist).
- His young men: Those who follow the antichrist’s leadership.
- Forced labour: Indentured servants. They are going to be enslaved.
v9: Cross over: Pass away. The antichrist will be enslaved, defeated and ultimately destroyed.
- His stronghold (literally: rock): The enemy’s stronghold, the things he trusted in.
- Fear: Terror. One of the enemy’s greatest weapons is inciting fear in others. G-d, however, is going to turn this on His enemies and cause them to become full of fear and terror.
- Princes: Cabinet officials. His main leaders.
- Banner: One of the names for the L-rd is ‘the L-rd my Banner’. This is a word that relates to Messiah.
- Fire: This could be the manifestation of G-d the Son, the Messiah.
- Fire…furnace (stove): A reference to the tool that G-d will use in the last days to bring about His judgment.