“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not
of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may
add sin to sin:”
here is to Israel’s seeking an alliance with a declining Egypt, the
“covering” having reference to the imagined security they expected to enjoy
as a result of that treaty. What they didn’t know was that Assyria would
defeat Egypt, thus leaving foolish Israel defenseless, and stigmatized as
the friend of Assyria’s enemy. We duplicate her folly when we seek the
world’s help, or apply the world’s wisdom to the resolution of our problems,
instead of taking them to God in prayer, forgetting that “the wisdom of this
world is foolishness with God,” 1 Corinthians 3:19.
To “cover with
a covering” refers to seeking shelter or security, but when that safety
isn’t the result of following the Holy Spirit’s leading as revealed in the
written Word, it is not only useless but sinful, and therefore harmful, for
it will incur the chastisement of God.
“That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to
strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow
continues to be against being guided by the wisdom of this world, for as
noted already that “wisdom” is foolishness with God. To ask “at my (God’s)
mouth,” is to seek His guidance as revealed in His Word, for Scripture is
simply the record of what God has said.
instructive to note that Pharaoh means his nakedness, a condition
that speaks of shame and weakness, and here declares the worthlessness of
mere worldly wisdom.
“Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the
shadow of Egypt your confusion.”
spiritual significance of this will be grasped only as we understand that
Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in defiant
independence of God; Pharaoh representing Satan the god of this evil world.
Does not honesty compel us to confess that all too often we have trusted in
that world’s wealth and ways rather than in God, and in money rather then in
the omnipotence of the Creator, forgetting that He has demonstrated His love
for us by giving His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die in our guilty stead
for the expiation of our sins?
And must we
not confess that all such dalliance has invariably been to our shame and
confusion? “... know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with
God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of
God,” James 4:4.
“For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.”
removal; and Hanes grace has fled. Both were Egyptian cities,
but since Egypt represents the world estranged from God, the meanings have
peculiar relevance to today’s world. It too has removed itself far from God,
and grace has fled, not voluntarily, but by compulsion of the men of the
world who have rejected it.
“They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an
help or profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.”
would be put to shame by going to seek help from Egypt which was already
slipping from the place of prominence she had once enjoyed among the
nations, and now herself needed to be delivered from the power of Assyria.
She was in no position to help Israel or any other nation. Man’s only place
of security is to be in a right relationship with God.
“The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and
anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying
serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and
their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not
the barren desert Israel’s messengers would have to traverse on their way to
Egypt, whose aid they hoped to buy with the treasure piled on the backs of
asses and camels. The typological picture is of the men of this world
seeking security and peace by means of earthly alliances, when the only
enduring peace is that which is secured by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ
as Savior and Lord. Nor can we find a more apt typological picture of this
poor troubled world than that which is presented in the words “... land of
trouble and anguish” inhabited by “lions, vipers, and fiery flying
“... to a
people that shall not profit them,” continues to declare the impossibility
of finding peace anywhere in this troubled world, except through faith in
Christ as Savior.
“For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I
cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.”
translations of this verse read, “Vain and worthless is the help of Egypt;
therefore have I given her this name, Rahab quelled,” NEB; “... to Egypt who
will prove futile and empty to them; and so I call her Rahab-do-nothing,”
Jerusalem Bible; “For Egypt’s promises are worthless! ‘The Reluctant
Dragon’ I call her,” Taylor.
represents the world of business and pleasure, the truth being declared here
is that that same evil world is powerless to help men relative to their
disagree as to the meaning of “Their strength is to sit still,” Rotherham
rendering it, “Therefore have I proclaimed concerning this, Insolent! They
sit still.” “Therefore have I called her, Rahab that sitteth still,” ASV.
“So I called her, Rahab-do-nothing,” Jerusalem Bible; “For Egypt’s
promises are worthless! ‘The Reluctant Dragon,” I call her,” Taylor.
It may be that
the truth being declared is that expressed in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and
know that I am God.”
“Now go, write it before them in a table (tablet), and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:”
translation reads, “Now go and write down this word of Mine concerning
Egypt, so that it will stand until the end of time, forever and forever, as
an indictment of Israel’s unbelief.” It is easy to criticize their trust in
powerless Egypt, and their distrust of their omnipotent God, but how many
times have we not been guilty of similar folly!
“That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not
hear the law of the Lord:”
The need of
committing the instruction to writing lay in the fact that the people were
lying rebels who wouldn’t hesitate to deny that God had ever given them such
a command. Today’s counterpart of their chicanery is not to read the Bible,
and thus remain wilfully ignorant of what God wants us to do.
“Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us
right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:”
A seer was one
to whom God revealed truth by giving him visions of future events, whereas a
prophet was one to whom He revealed the future by telling him what was going
to happen. Rebel Israel however, wanted to be shown or told of only such
coming events as were pleasant. They would rather be told pleasant lies
than have to listen to unpalatable truth; nor has the passage of more that
twenty-five hundred years changed anything: modern unconverted man abhors
spiritual truth with the same intensity as did his Old Testament
“Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of
Israel to cease from before us.”
defiance of God they forbade the seers and prophets to proclaim truth,
demanding that they cease to present Jehovah as being angered by Israel’s
sinfulness. Their present-day counterparts - professing but unbelieving
Christians - are no less adamantly opposed to the idea of a God Who is “...
of purer eyes than to behold evil, and (who) canst not look on iniquity,”
“Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word,
and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:”
translated this verse, “Because you have spurned this warning and put your
faith in force and intrigue and have come to rely on them,” and Moffatt’s
rendering is, “Well, here is the reply of Israel’s Majesty: Since you
despise my warning and trust in wile and guile, and lean on your own
“Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling
out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.”
about to fall upon the rebellious nation is likened here to a high wall upon
which a bulge has begun to appear, presaging the imminent collapse of the
whole structure; and only the spiritually blind will fail to see in this the
foreshadowing of the impending Tribulation judgments that will bring the
complete collapse of the present world order, social and economic, leaving
the world a shattered ruin.
Some see in
this a reference to Egypt, she being the bulging wall about to collapse; and
still others, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary e.g., see it as a symbol
of the national self-will.
“And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken
in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the
bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal
out of the pit.”
destruction would be utter, leaving not one piece large enough to carry fire
from the hearth, or water from the cistern.
“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest
shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:
and ye would not.”
salvation lay in their repentant return to God, putting their trust in Him,
and not in alliances with other nations; and so is it with all who would
know the peace of God “which passeth all understanding,” Philippians 4:7,
for “vain is the help of man,” Psalm 108:12; but God “is able to do
exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Ephesians 3:20.
Salvation rests in knowing that God is omnipotent, and that His desire is to
bless “with all spiritual blessings” Ephesians 1:3, all who put their trust
in the Lord Jesus Christ. “... in quietness and in confidence” speaks of
the peaceful assurance possessed by every obedient believer, that “all
things work together for good to them that love God,” Romans 8:28.
character of that mutinous generation however, is declared in the words “ye
would not.” And so will it be relative to all who die in unbelief. Those
who suffer eternal torment in the lake of fire will be they who refused to
confess themselves sinners and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, in
spite of His having died to save them from such a dreadful fate.
“But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee;
and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be
differ as to whether Israel’s fleeing upon swift horses refers to their
charging into battle with their Egyptian allies, against the Assyrians, or
to their successful flight from the enemy on horses provided by Egypt,
though the former seems the more probable.
This is the
symbolic depiction of the fact that men will seek salvation in humanly
contrived schemes such as moral living, church membership, generous giving,
etc., anything, in fact, other than in God’s simple, easy, artless plan of
salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work perfectly
completed at Calvary.
“One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall
ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an
ensign on an hill.”
Instead of the
glorious victory foretold by their false advisers, Israel would be put to
ignominious flight, the few survivors of the slaughter being likened to a
beacon, a pole, an abandoned flagstaff, a lone tree on a distant mountain
top. Such will be all who seek salvation by any means other than faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. They will be eternal monuments to the
madness of seeking justification by self-effort (good works), instead of by
faith in Christ.
“And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and
therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord
is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.”
The Lord is of
very great patience so that He may be gracious, i.e., that He may bestow
pardon, and His priceless gift of eternal life, upon all who will confess
themselves sinners, and trust in Christ as Savior; but woe betide the man
who exhausts that patience, and ignores the warning, “My spirit shall not
always strive with man,” Genesis 6:3, “He, that being often reproved
hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,”
Proverbs 29:1, and again, “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee
away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee,” Job 36:18;
see also Genesis 4:13 which records Cain’s unavailing cry of remorse, “My
punishment is greater than I can bear,” and Hebrews 12:17 relative to Esau,
“For ye know that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he
was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it
carefully with tears.” The writer of Hebrews adds the further warning, “It
is a fearful thing to fall (unsaved) into the hands of the living God,”
being “a God of judgment” is the reminder that His standard is inflexible:
His perfect law decrees the death of the transgressor, but His equally
perfect justice enables Him to extend mercy to the penitent sinner on the
basis of Christ’s substitutionary death, He having borne at Calvary the
sentence of death incurred by man’s transgression. Justice is ennobled, not
denigrated, by mercy extended on such a basis.
“... they that
wait for Him” are they whose hope is in Him, i.e., those who look to Him for
help in every time of need.
“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more:
he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall
hear it, he will answer thee.”
Zion is another name for Jerusalem, the distinction being that Zion
focuses on the fact that the city is the center of Israel’s religious life,
while the name Jerusalem is associated with it as the God-ordained center of
government, both being universal in the Millennium.
shalt weep no more” speaks of the peace and joy that will not only be
enjoyed in Zion/Jerusalem,, but that will emanate to every corner of the
millennial earth. God will hear her every cry, and respond immediately.
“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of
affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more,
but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:”
“... the bread
of adversity,” and “the water of affliction” are synonyms for the means by
which God exercises the discipline of a Father over the household of faith.
He uses various circumstances to chastise our disobedience and to strengthen
our faith, we in our myopia often mistaking them for needless adversity and
“... yet will
not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more ... thine eyes shall see
thy teachers,” means that as a result of God’s chastisement the people
would no longer disparage their God-given teachers or leaders, but would
recognize them as those He had given for their instruction and spiritual
development. It is hardly necessary to say that the malaise mentioned here
is endemic in Christendom today. Those who would preach a clear Biblical
gospel, or teach sound doctrine, are ignored, despised, or denied a hearing
in many a so-called Christian church. Such was the state of Israel in the
days of Isaiah.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way walk
ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”
chastisement was designed to teach the people to recognize the truth, and to
walk in it. The King James translation here is ambiguous. It means that
when they tended to depart to the right or left from the proper way, the
Word of God would show them their error, and direct them back on to the path
“Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the
ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a
menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.”
learn the wickedness of idolatry, so that the gold- or silver-plated images
they worshiped would be seen for the spiritually unclean, worthless, and
revolting things they were, and would be cast away in disgust. The
spiritually blind eyes of today’s Christendom fail to see that its worship
of this world’s wealth is no less repugnant to God than was Israel’s literal
“Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground
withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and
plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.”
repentance - evidenced not just in words, but in deeds - would secure God’s
blessing in the form of abundant crops and corresponding wealth; and in this
connection it is necessary to note that increased temporal riches are not
the evidence of His blessing during this present age of grace. Some of His
choicest saints are poor in this world’s goods, their enrichment being not
in this world’s wealth, but in that which is heavenly, see Ephesians 1:3,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us
with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
“The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear (till) the ground shall eat
clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.”
domestic animals would feed on the same sifted grain as would the people
themselves. (To winnow with shovel and fan was to toss shovelfuls of grain
into the air where the wind blew away the chaff while the sifted grain
kernels fell back on to the threshing floor).
“And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill,
rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the
The “day of
the great slaughter” seems to refer to the Great Tribulation during which
millions will die by war, famine, disease, and natural disasters; and in
this context the rivers and streams pouring down every hill and mountain
appear to speak, not of abundant blessing, but of phenomenal destruction by
the natural elements such as storm and flood.
towers are understood by some to refer to the toppling of governments, which
would contribute to the misery caused by the unleashed forces of nature.
“Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the
light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day
that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of
preceding verse describes the judgments of the Great Tribulation, then
obviously this verse describes Millennial conditions, though it seems that
the language is hyperbolic, for if moonlight were magnified to the intensity
of sunlight there would obviously be no night, yet Scripture assures us that
day and night will continue till the end of this present world, see Genesis
8:22, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,
and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
Since the moon
is symbolic of testimony - as the moon reflects the light of the sun so is
the Church to reflect the light of the knowledge of Christ - the reference
here may be to the enlargement of that testimony in the Millennium.
breach of His people” is also translated “the wound from His inflicted
stroke,” Spurrell; “the wounds He gave them,” Taylor.
“Behold the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, and
the burden thereof is heavy: His lips are full of indignation, and his
tongue as a devouring fire:”
indicates the vast immeasurable distance between earth and “the heavens of
heavens” Psalm 68:33, God’s dwelling place. What a difference there is
between the God described here, and God the Son Who came as God’s Lamb to
expiate man’s sin! How can Christ-rejecting sinners expect mercy after
rejecting salvation procured at such cost! Having spurned His gracious
invitation, “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest,” they will have no choice but to obey His command, “Depart
from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his
angels.” What shrieks of terror will accompany their descent into that
awful place of torment in the midst of unquenchable flames!
“And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the
neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a
bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.”
translated this verse, “His wrath pours out like floods upon them all, to
sweep them all away. He will sift out the proud nations and bridle them and
lead them off to their doom.”
indescribable madness leads men to choose this fate, and reject the gracious
invitation of the Savior, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy
laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28! It is Satan, the arch
enemy of God and man, who places that bridle in the jaws of the unthinking
multitudes he leads down the broad and crowded way to hell.
“Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and
gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain
of the Lord, to the mighty One of Israel.”
Were our minds
more filled with thoughts of heaven and the prospect of seeing our Savior,
there would be more singing and less sighing during the night of our
pilgrimage through this vale of tears. We should note too that He is
described here not as the lowly Lamb of God Who came to die to expiate all
our sin, but as the mighty One of Israel Who will execute judgment for the
glory of the Father and the blessing of men.
“And the Lord shall cause his glorious (majestic) voice to be heard, and
shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger,
and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and
lighting down of His arm” is also translated, “the bringing down of His arm
in destroying anger,” shattering everything it falls upon. The description
is probably of the judgments that will devastate the earth in the Great
Tribulation, though it may include also those that will attend the judgment
of the great white throne.
“For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which
smote with a rod.”
smote with a rod,” of the KJ translation implies that it is the Assyrian who
smote with a rod, but better translations make it clear that the Smiter is
the Lord Jesus Christ, the Assyrian being the one smitten.
“And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord
shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of
shaking will he fight with it.”
staff” is the staff of punishment wielded by the Lord; and relative to
“battles of shaking,” the RSV translation reads, “And every stroke of the
staff of punishment which the Lord lays upon them will be to the sound of
timbrels and lyres; battling with brandished arm he will fight with them,”
and the NEB rendering reads, “Tambourines and harps and shaking sistrums
(ancient Egyptian musical instruments) shall keep time with every stroke of
His rod, of the chastisement which the Lord inflicts on her.”
“For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath
made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath
of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.”
meaning “a spitting (as an object of contempt),” was another name for
Moloch, the Assyrian god. It is also considered to be a symbol of hell.
The “deep and large” pile refers to the mound of wood piled up for the
burning of this Assyrian idol, the heap being ignited by the breath of the
Lord. This destruction of Tophet points to the abolition of idolatry in the
Millennium, during which Jehovah alone will be worshiped.