Judah Warned against Egyptian Alliance
This prophecy was spoken in the time that the Assyrian army was attacking Israel and Judah. The Assyrians conquered Israel and took their people into exile. Then the Assyrians came against Judah and because of this threat, the leaders of Judah looked to Egypt for protection.
By seeking protection from Egypt the leaders of Judah forsook the Lord. It was wise that they understood that they needed protection outside of themselves. This was foolish of Judah to look for help from others instead of looking to the Lord. It is sinful to reject the Lord and another sin to trust in something else. Therefore what Judah did was to add sin to sin.
In the perspective of heaven, the strength of Egypt was nothing. In the eyes of the Lord Egypt was nothing but a shadow. When the ambassadors of Egypt came to Judah they saw them as a people who had nothing to offer. It was a foolish thing for the leaders of Judah to trust a nation that looked at them this way.
Isaiah is proclaiming a burden against the pack animals of Judah, which carry the riches of Judah down to Egypt through the wilderness. This was a foolish attempt to buy protection against the Assyrians. Their money will be wasted because help from the Egyptians will be in vain. It is no wonder that Isaiah feels sorry for the donkeys that will carry the treasure to Egypt. In spite of the riches that the animals will carry across the desert, Egypt will not help Judah at all. Egypt will sit idle as the Assyrians trouble Judah. “It is all useless, bringing neither help nor advantage. ‘Well, of course!’ Isaiah might have said, for from the feared killer (Assyria) they were seeking help from the proved killer (Egypt)!” (Motyer)
Judah wants the people to have the prophecy written down and placed before them so when it comes to pass as the Lord degrees they will have a greater trust in Him. God wanted the people’s rejection of His message, and His messengers to be documented. The people of Judah wanted to hear from the prophets but they did not want to hear the truth. They wanted their religion but they did not want the Lord to be a real influence in their lives.
The problems that God confronted in the day of Isaiah did not end. The Apostle Paul sees the same kind of heart in 2 Timothy. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
Because Judah placed their trust in Egypt God will cause everything to be broken and it will collapse. The break will come suddenly and Judah will be like a shattered clay pot that is in pieces.
God had offered to protect Judah from the Assyrians but they rejected His help. Instead, they turned to Egypt for their protection. They should have trusted God and His promises. To trust in the promises of God means to return unto Him. If we have disobedience in our lives, then we must return to the ways of the Lord. To disobey the Lord is never consistent with trust in the Lord. Returning to the Lord has the idea of drawing close to Him. If the people of Judah would have done that the Lord would have drawn close to them. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8)
Trusting in God’s promises means that we will find rest. When we trust the Lord we do not have to strive for ourselves. God is the best protector that a man can have. We can find our rest in the Lord and this shows that we really trust in Him. Trusting in the Lord is quietness. When you trust the Lord you do not have to argue your side when God is on your side.
Trusting in the Lord gives one confidence. You are not living in despair or fear because you know that God is faithful and true to His promises. But Judah rejected the promise of God and chose to flee on horses. They had more trust and faith in horses and other such things than the Word of God. for this reason they needed to flee. If they would have trusted in the promise of God, then they would never have had a reason to flee. Instead, they missed the magnificence of God’s salvation and strength.
They fled because of the threat of one. This is the fulfillment of the curse promised in Leviticus. “I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.” (Leviticus 26:17)
God Is Gracious and Just
Many of us wonder why it takes so long for the Lord to do things in our lives. Isaiah tells us that it is so He can be gracious to us. When the Lord delays His blessing to us there is always a loving purpose behind it. We must have faith that the Lord will answer. God shows His mercy towards us that He may be exalted. The one who receives God’s mercy is not exalted but is aware of His guilt and deserving of punishment. Mercy exalts the person who is showing mercy that they are loving, generous, and full of mercy.
Mercy and justice seem to oppose each other. When a judge sees a convicted man standing before Him he has the choice to show either mercy or justice. God can show both at the same time. On the cross, Jesus took the punishment that we deserve and God’s justice was satisfied. At the same time, God extends His mercy towards us as payment for our sins. Only God can reconcile mercy and justice. God is the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:26)
Because of the greatness of God, there is a built-in blessing for those who wait for Him. Isaiah does not mean waiting as in just wasting time but waiting for the promise of God to be revealed. “Certain of God’s people are in trouble and distress, and they are eager for immediate rescue. They cannot wait God’s time, nor exercise submission to his will. He will surely deliver them in due season, but they cannot tarry till the hour cometh; like children, they snatch at the unripe fruit. ‘To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’; but their one season is the present; they cannot, they will not wait. They must have their desire instantaneously fulfilled, or else they are ready to take wrong means of attaining it. If in poverty, they are in haste to be rich; and they shall not long be innocent. If under reproach, their heart ferments towards revenge. They would sooner rush under the guidance of Satan into some questionable policy, than in childlike simplicity trust in the Lord and do good. It must not be so with you, my brethren, you must learn a better way.” (Spurgeon)
When God’s people wait upon Him and trust in His promises God pours out His grace upon them. Even in the times that God feels distant He hears and promises to answer.
In the days of Judah’s prosperity, when their life was comfortable, then they would not listen to God. Now they have tasted the bread of adversity and the water of affliction and now can hear God and be guided by Him again. It is better to be uncomfortable and in God’s will that to be comfortable and out of step with Him.
The people of Judah had been keeping household idols for their worship of other gods. The Lord promises of the day when they will defile these false gods and throw them away. The Hebrew word for unclean thing is a menstrual cloth. The people of God would come to hate their idols that they would throw them away as they would a menstrual cloth.
When the idols of Judah have been put away and the people boldly trust the promises of God then God will send His material blessings. Judah, a nation of farmers, this was a wonderful promise to make them fattened and plenteous. Judah is a naturally dry land and God is promising them abundant rivers and streams of water. In this time the Lord will bind the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound.
Isaiah sees the judgment of the Lord come quickly. It will sift the nations through a sieve of futility. But the people of God have no need to fear and they will have a song of gladness as one played with a flute. They show into the mountain of the Lord. “The truth is that God’s people are here portrayed rejoicing at his judgment on sin because they must take his point of view on everything, and because this judgment is at the same time their salvation.” (Grogan)
The Apostle John expresses the same idea. “By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
Isaiah is warning the people to see the glory of God’s judgments. When we understand the perfect judgment of God and how it exalts His justice and righteousness, then we see the glory in the judgment of the Lord.
Isaiah declares the judgment of the Lord against Assyria. Judah had no business in trusting in Egypt for help against Assyrian. They should have trusted the Lord to take care of the Assyrians. As it happened the Lord sent an angel and killed 185,000 of the Assyrians. (2 Kings 19:35)
Tophet was a place in the valley of Hinnom just outside of Jerusalem’s walls. (Jeremiah 7:31) The valley of Hinnom was the garbage dump for Jerusalem and the smoldering fires made it a picture of Hell. God said that He has a special place in Hell for the King of Assyria. “Hence it is here used for hell, together with that eternity of extremity which the damned there endure; and this the Assyrians are here threatened with, yea, their very king, whose preservation from the stroke of the angel was but a reservation to a worse mischief here and hereafter.” (Trapp)