Ephraim’s Captivity Predicted
Ephraim, which is the northern kingdom of Israel, the tribe of Ephraim was the prominent tribe in Israel, their drunkenness was a significant problem in that land. The Lord through Isaiah addressed the drunkards of Ephraim. There are other passages of Scripture that speak to drunkards. (Proverbs 23:29-35) Speaks of the folly of being drunk. Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be filled with the Spirit rather than drunkenness. The following Scriptures command us against drunkenness. (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 5:11’ 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Corinthians 11:21; Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3) In the last days, Jesus warned against drunkenness. (Luke 21:34-36)
Like many other sins drunkenness is connected to pride. So much so that Isaiah calls the people of Ephraim “The Crown of Pride.” Drunkenness in our lives makes everything that is beautiful or good in our lives fade away. Many a successful man or woman has come from the top of the social ladder to the bottom because of drunkenness.
When drunkenness overcomes us we are in sin. Drunkenness impairs our senses, thinking, judgment, and our reflexes. When we are overcome with alcohol we are in sin. Some wish that there was a prohibition against drinking in the Bible but there is not. Jesus made wine, (John 2:1-10) and He drank wine, (Mark 14:22-26) and was unjustly accused of being drunk, (Matthew 11:19) The Bible regards moderate drinking a gift from God. (Psalm 104:15) The Bible allows moderate use of alcohol but it strictly condemns drunkenness.
The one who is a drunkard needs to know that God is stronger than the power of alcohol. If one is overcome with alcohol God has the power to help him stop. God also has the power to judge the people of Ephraim to be trampled underfoot. A drunkard should learn the value of delayed gratification. Drinking may be intense and immediate but its effect will fade quickly and the drunkard will crash hard.
We see our glory fading as a result of our sin with drunkenness we can become discouraged, which will cause us to become depressed. Even as the glory of man fades as a result of his sin God’s glory remains. When the day comes when we have lost our glory from the wreckage of sin, we can set our focus on the glory of the Lord. When sin has caused us to lose our judgment and discernment we can receive them from the Lord. When we have lost our strength we can turn to the Lord and He will strengthen us.
Isaiah has also mentioned the priest and prophet so this passage may also include Jerusalem and Judah. The people in Ephraim had a problem with drunkenness and so did Jerusalem and Judah. “Judah had caught this disease of Ephraim . . . Sin is more contagious and catching than the plague.” (Trapp)
Drunkenness always will cause one to error and they will be taken out of the way, the way of God’s wisdom and His will. Drunkenness knows no age or person and can touch anyone at any time in life. Even the priest and the prophet can fall to the tyranny of drunkenness.
The house of the drunkard is a place of degradation and disgrace. This is the way that alcohol works. Alcohol is a depressant and people lose their self-control, their wisdom, balance, and judgment.
Whom will he teach knowledge? This is the question to Isaiah from the priest and prophets in Isaiah 28:7-8. They are asking the godly prophet Isaiah “Whom will he teach knowledge?” who will he make to understand the message? In the minds of these priests and prophets, the message of Isaiah is just for the children. “Verses 9 and 10 portray the sarcastic reaction these Judean leaders had to Isaiah’s words of rebuke. They were tired of Isaiah’s strictness and of his recurring application of God’s laws. The string of monosyllables in verse 10 may mean that the Judean leaders regarded Isaiah’s message as meaningless or as child’s play.” (Wolf)
The priest and prophets continue to mock Isaiah. “It is too simple. It is simply precept upon precept . . . line upon line . . . here a little, there a little. We are so smart and spiritually sophisticated and advanced that we can go on to deeper things.” Yet in their mocking, they have actually given Isaiah a compliment. To see God’s truth delivered precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. When God’s word is correctly presented it is both simple and immature to receive. The Word of God is something for the great saint to rejoice and be fed.
If the people cannot understand the simple message of God’s Word, then God will find another way to deliver His message to the hard-hearted people. He will send the message to them with unusual messengers.
God will send a message of rest and deliverance but the people will reject it. The Word of God was not at fault as He sent the Word to them. , “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” The messengers of God are to present the Word of God without skipping one word and to present it to the people simply. “It is an excellent thing that the gospel is taught us by degrees. It is not forced home upon men’s minds all at once, but it comes thus, ‘Precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little.’ God does not flash the everlasting daylight on weak eyes in one blaze of glory, but there is at first a dim dawn, and the soft incoming of a tender light for tender eyes, and so by degrees we see.” (Spurgeon) The people who continually reject the Word of God will fall backward and become broken, they will be snared and become caught.
Judah Is Warned
Sadly enough some of the ones who ruled the people were simple and immature. They too as all needed to hear the Word of God. There are none who are too lofty, too exalted, too mature, too advanced for the Word of God, and to hear it “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little.”
Those who ruled in Jerusalem were extreme in their rejection of God’s Word. They believed that they had made an agreement with death and the grave. They were proud and did not believe that God’s judgment and correction would come against them. They had no fear of death as they believed they had made friends with the grave. Many in our world today believe they have made friends with the grave. Those who are ungodly should fear death, as with death ends all opportunity for repentance, and their eternal doom has been set. Satan is very crafty in making people feel that death is their friend.
These people have fallen for the lie and believe it is their refuge and strength. What a false protection and lack of true confidence. “In his sermon titled Refuges of Lies and What Will Become Of Them, Charles Spurgeon lists six lies that men try to take refuge in: 1. The lie that we are, or can be good enough. 2. The lie that fate or predestination determines all, so there is nothing for us to do. 3. The lie that places confidence in new, false teachings. 4. The lie that religious profession is enough. 5. The lie that one can have a saved soul and an unchanged life. 6. The lie that trusts an old experience instead of an ongoing relationship.”
In contrast to the weak foundation that the godless place their trust, God has laid a solid foundation for our lives. The Apostle Peter tells us what this foundation is. “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (1 Peter 2:6) The Messiah, Jesus He is the foundation for our lives. Life cannot be built upon anything less than a stable foundation. As Jesus taught we must build our lives on the foundation of His Word. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)
It is the work of God that lays this stone. We are not able to build a foundation that will stand against the storms of life. We are to behold the foundation that God has made for us. We are to learn to appreciate it and value it and build our lives upon it. Our Messiah, Jesus was tried and was found to be glorious. He was the obedient Son of God. Jesus is the precious cornerstone which provides the lines for the building of our lives upon. Jesus is the straight and true cornerstone and everything in the building lines up in reference to Him. The building is built straight with justice the measuring line and righteousness the plummet.
The ungodly rulers of Jerusalem had made lies their refuge and had found a hiding place under falsehood. The trials of life and the judgments of God would sweep away their refuge. Their lives were built upon the wrong foundation and their lives would see destruction. They had believed they had made a deal with death but God would annul their covenant with death. When the judgment comes they will be trampled down. The Judgment of God will not touch them lightly. Morning by mourning and day and night they will feel the sting of God’s judgment.
In Jerusalem, the rulers had to know that they were in a precarious place. They were in a place where they could not find refuge in their present position. They had rejected God and now they could find no peace or rest, they would not be able to warmth. In a short bed one cannot stretch out and without a proper blanket, they will not find warmth. This too is a picture of the world which strives and longs for a proper place to rest. Often the bed is too short and has not a proper blanket. The Child of God is given rest. (Matthew 11:28) They are given covering by Jesus Christ. The Christian should not long for the short beds of the world and the narrow coverings of the world. The followers of Christ should be thankful for the place they have been given and enjoy it.
In Jerusalem, the rulers had to learn that fighting against God is always a losing battle. There is no way to win a battle against God as His work is awesome and His victory is always assured. At Perazim the Lord won a great victory for the Israelites in the days of King David. (2 Samuel 5:20) It was at Gibeon that the Lord won a great battle for Joshua. (Joshua 10:11) In both times the Lord fought the battle for Israel but if the leaders did not repent they find soon their battle would be against the Lord. God using His strength against His own people is surely an awesome work. The leaders in Jerusalem had to know that to mock God was a very dangerous thing and they did so with their deals with death and uttering haughty words against God.
Now was the time for the rulers of Jerusalem to listen to the voice of God and to pay attention to His Words.
At the end of this chapter, we see Isaiah using a poem to relate the work of God to the work of a farmer. The farmer doesn’t only plow he knows when to stop and level the ground, he knows when to plant, and he knows what to plant and where. The farmer uses different tools to for different task and they all work together to produce the crop. God, in the same way, knows what tools to use in our life, what time to use them. We do not have to doubt and have despair in what God is doing in our lives. God is the expert farmer and He works in our lives with all His wisdom. “He used the proper instrument and procedure at the proper time to accomplish His purposes among His stubborn people.” (Wolf)
The phrase wonderful in counsel is the same words used to describe the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 (Wonderful Counselor). We are reminded that God’s perfect timing and wisdom works in our lives.