We now go on to Isaiah 9:9-17
There are serious consequences to rejecting the Word of G-d and making poor decisions (Gal 6:7-8). It is only through receiving revelation from G-d that we can make wise decisions. This second part of Isaiah 9 gives us an example of what happens when we reject the truth of G-d – the gospel message of Messiah.
v9: Ephraim: Although this was the name of one of the tribes, it became the prophetic name for the tribes that made up the Northern kingdom of Israel (nine tribes plus some of the tribe of Levi).
- Pride: The message of Messiah failed in Israel because of pride. That pride was personified in Ephraim (the Northern kingdom). Israel fell into idolatry. She behaved selfishly – thinking about her own desires – and that led her into rejecting the truth of G-d.
- Arrogance: They exalted themselves; they had inflated thoughts about themselves.
v10: Bricks … hewn stones; the sycamores…cedars: G-d was going to bring judgment, but they were going to say that they were going to come out of G-d’s judgment better than when they went in.
- Hewn stones: Stones properly cut.
- Sycamores…cedars: Their mindset was that in the past what seemed good (sycamores) was going to be even better in their future (cedars). They did not acknowledge that there was going to be consequences for their sin. They expected to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and make things better in spite of G-d’s displeasure with them. This attitude smacked of arrogance and rebellion.
v11: Set up: Raise up. Elevate. Give power to.
- Him: Referring to the Northern kingdom.
- Spur his enemies on: He will have conflict with his enemies and with his opponents – those who stand in opposition to him.
Note: This is a Biblical principle: When we say ‘No’ to G-d, when we do not want to receive His revelation or implement His truth in our lives, He empowers our enemies to come against us.
v12: Syrians … and the Philistines: Historically these nations have caused Israel much suffering.
- Devour Israel with an open mouth: Meaning they devoured Israel in every way.
- His anger is not turned away: The Northern kingdom suffered greatly. Once they were exiled, they were destroyed and never went back to the land of Israel. In the last days G-d will allow the descendants of the Northern kingdom back into the land of Israel.
- His hand is stretched out still: Even though He was punishing them, G-d still extended His hand to them. He was still willing to receive them – if they repented, turned and embraced His truth.
v13: Do not turn (repent) to Him who strikes them: G-d was discipling them, but they did not respond to Him. They knew who was striking them. They knew G-d was displeased with them. However, they did not repent and nor did they seek G-d.
- Seek: This is a strong word which means to utterly and completely, with great intensity, beseech the L-rd. They did not do this. The people were simply not interested in having a relationship with the L-rd. This was because they wanted their own way. The problem is that we cannot have G-d’s way and our way at the same time. One way will always give way to the other.
v14: Note: Believe it or not, but this is actually a message of hope. Although G-d was going to bring judgment upon them the judgment had a purpose – and that purpose was to bring about change.
- Cut off: ‘Cutting off’ is a judgment. It is a consequence which is tied to a covenant. The Old covenant had blessings and curses attached to it. Because they did not respond faithfully to that covenant they were not going to be blessed – they were going to be cursed. This is what is being referred to here.
- In one day: G-d can make a change happen very quickly.
v15: Elder …honourable … prophet who teaches lies: G-d was going to cut off this ungodly leadership. The prophets and teachers had been held up by the people as honourable, but these leaders had actually led the people into judgment.
v16: Leaders … cause them to err: Their leaders misled them and caused them to go astray.
Note: The principle we learn here is this: we need to follow proper leadership. Faithful leaders faithfully teach G-d’s Word. False teachers do not put much emphasis on the Word of G-d. When we follow improper leadership, it is going to cause us to be led astray. When we go astray the enemy is able to destroy us.
v17: Young men: The next generation. G-d was not going to be pleased or have joy in the next generation. Biblically the next generation is mostly always associated with hope. If a generation has failed, then the hope is that the next generation will learn from their mistakes and make right the wrongs.
- Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows: Throughout the Bible G-d shows incredible concern and protectiveness over the widows and orphans. Things are really bad when G-d takes His hands off them and doesn’t get involved in their lives. One of the greatest promises in the New Covenant is that G-d will never leave us or forsake us (Hebs 13:5).
- Hypocrite: Someone who says or gives an impression of one thing but does the opposite.
- Evildoer: Someone who delights in wickedness.
- (Decay): This is a word that means more than ‘folly’. It comes from the same root as the word used to describe a dead animal that has been left out in the sun to rot. It is something that is repulsive. If we follow improper leadership and we go astray we turn into hypocrites, evildoers and everything we say will be repulsive. We will not be people who are pleasing to G-d.
- His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still: This phrase is repeated from Isaiah 9:12. Even though G-d is punishing them for their disobedience and rebellion He still holds out His hands to them. G-d is still willing to extend mercy to them if they repent.