Isaiah 28:14–18; 30:12–18comment (0)
March 30, 2006
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Isaiah 28:14–18; 30:12–18
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Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
DO YOU LIVE ACCORDING TO GOD’S TRUTH?
Isaiah 28:14–18; 30:12–18
Chapters 28–31 come from a period in Isaiah’s prophetic ministry between 705 and 701 b.c. After the death of Sargon II of Assyria, Hezekiah of Judah formed a coalition to revolt against Assyrian control. He entered a treaty with Egypt in which that nation promised assistance in the struggle. Bitterly Isaiah denounced this treaty. Not only was Egypt not dependable (31:1–3), it also was sheer foolishness to enter any treaty designed to avoid what God had purposed, i.e. judgment on Judah. As a consequence, the treaty was counterproductive. Nothing would come of it but disaster.
Rejection of Truth (28:14–18)
Instead of listening to the Lord’s message through Isaiah, the people of Judah scoffed God’s message and went on with their plans. A “scoffer” not only chooses the wrong way but also mocks the right way.
The words in verse 15 are not those of the people of Judah: they would hardly have said they had “made a deal” with death — so that when disaster struck, it would not affect them — and with lies and falsehood.
Isaiah put these words in their mouths by way of biting sarcasm to show the true nature of what they had done. They believed their political scheme, i.e. alliance with Egypt, was so sound that they need not fear death. It would not come their way.
Instead of embracing the revealed word of the Lord, they sought refuge in other words, deceitful words. People who reject God’s truth lose touch with reality and succeed only in deceiving themselves.
The only firm foundation for life and action was the “cornerstone” the Lord provided. Ultimately this applied to the “Word of God.” But in Isaiah’s day, it could equally have applied to the word God sent through the prophet. That word was dependable. The person who trusted in God also trusted in God’s truth, built on a sure foundation, and would not “make haste,” i.e. panic.
In the hour when the oppressor swept over the nation, all other deals — those with death, lies and falsehood — would prove useless.
Sudden Disaster (30:12–18)
The people rejected the words of the true prophet Isaiah about the folly of relying on an alliance with Egypt for protection. They demanded that the prophets (including Isaiah) stop speaking about “what is right” but speak instead “smooth things,” i.e. ideas they liked to hear but which were nonetheless untrue (30:10).
This ancient scene is repeated in modern times when people weary of God’s word about right and wrong and demand instead “positive, in-touch-with-the-times encouragement.”
Because the people preferred to trust their own secret plans and clever alliances, the Lord said they would suffer greater disaster. The imagery for disaster contains a suggestion of suddenness. A wall leans and bulges and then crashes down suddenly, “in a flash.” A pottery jug falls on a stone or a tile floor and shatters into useless fragments. The disaster will be calamitous, sudden and complete.
Refusing God’s revealed truth and living by other versions of “truth” can lead only to disaster.
On the other hand, the prophet told the people of Judah how to avert disaster. “In returning” to the Lord and in trusting Him (“rest”), i.e. His word, they would be delivered. With salvation would come a calmness (“quietness”) that would give them “strength.”
Tragically the prophet reported that Judah would not respond to the Lord’s invitation. Incredibly God offered Himself and they chose horses, the “glamour weapons” of the time. Cavalry and chariots were the ancient equivalents of satellites and laser-guided bombs.
The language holds two plays on words: they will get horses in case they have to flee, so they will have to flee; they will ride on the swift (horses), but their pursuers will be swifter. When the enemy comes, devastation will be complete — nothing will be left.
Despite all, the Lord sits ready to show mercy to all who wait, i.e. depend, on Him.