Isaiah 9:8 – 10:4.
Introduction: 5:25. God is angry, yet still offers grace.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (5:25b)
Point 1: 9:8-12. Arrogance and Incursion. Defiance against God’s hand.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (9:12b)
Point 2: 9:13-17. Impenitence and Confusion. Defiance in the lack of leaders.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (9:17b)
Point 3: 9:18-21. Anarchy and Cannibalism. The horror of civil war.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (9:21b)
Point 4: 10:1-4. Apathy and Corruption. The unjust Justice System.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (10:4b)
Point 2: 9:13-17. Impenitence and Confusion. Defiance in the lack of leaders.
“For all this his anger is not turned away, yet his hand is stretched out still.” (9:17b)
Isaiah’s Classic Four Point Sermon on the Deafness of Judah (2) Impenitence and Confusion.Isaiah continues his four pointer address. His second issue is simply declaring the inbuilt kick backs towards a society that was covenanted with God when that privileged society persists in ignoring God and His passionate pleas. Their persistence in evil confused the masses in several ways, the confusion was added to by the removal of leaders, false prophets and the lower strata of society. Isaiah’s upset is that nobody in society seemed to put together the facts that the prophets had predicted what would happen if they refused to correct themselves and be subject to God and what they had predicted was exactly what was happening. 2 + 2, however did not make four as far as the leaders and the people of Israel and Judah were concerned. This meant that they were either simply ignoring the prophetic word of Yahweh, or that they chose to disbelieve what the prophets were saying, or worse still, they heard it, they knew it was the true word of God, but chose to defy Him still. The pigswill of life seemed better to them than the bread of heaven. Who says persistent wrong doing does not confuse?
Sin, when persevered in and justified by its perpetrators confuses the mind of the said perpetrator massively. Constant self justification for wrong actions, evil thoughts and murderous plans wreaks havoc on the body, soul and spirit of individuals as well as on the body politic, the national conscience and the spiritual heart of a nation. Confusion is as deep as the weight of the sins committed. Sense of right and wrong is turned on its head. Defense of conduct becomes irrational with a deficit in logic that the self defender cannot see. The ensuing lack of internal integrity causes breakdown of a thousand different sorts in just as many ways. The “Judas” who knew what he was doing when he received the thirty pieces of silver, having thought long and hard about his act of betrayal beforehand, finally breaks down and asks “What have I done? Why did I do it?” The “Peter” who “rationally” (or so he thought) swore, cursed and lied to a little girl in order to keep his own life intact while he denied that he even knew Christ at all, realizes what he has done and weeps bitterly. The “Adams” and the “Eves” of every generation blame somebody else for their calamity after hiding from God. It is a syndrome – a principle that is always present. It even stops the hardened thief or criminal from relating to others. The restless spirit of the hardened wrong doer affects the atmosphere of the people they mix with. As with individual people, so with nations.
The northern Kingdom of Israel, it seems, had gone beyond the pale. It is never correct to say that somebody (or in this case a nation) can go beyond the loving reach of God. But sadly it is sometimes true that rejection after rejection of God’s offer of redemption can lead to people being so spiritually deaf, dumb and blind that they themselves have chosen to enter into the eternal darkness and so, by choice prevent themselves from being reached. The northern kingdom of Israel had crossed that line. And this is why “the word that came to Jacob” – that is both the Northern kingdom of Israel as well as the southern kingdom of Judah – actually, at this point of time only “fell on Israel.” This did not mean that Judah had escaped, but that the fulfillment of this word for the southern state was still in the realms of probability to be delayed and delayed until … whenever. History tells us that this word finally also fell on Judah and Jerusalem in 587 BC.
The whole point of Isaiah’s attack on the northern Kingdom as well as his beloved nation and city is that the people had not yet perceived their own sin, nor the fact that the many catastrophes that were beating and closing in on Judah and Jerusalem and more so on Samaria and Israel were actually Almighty God’s way of drawing their attention to him. The prophets had predicted these things and yet the plain truth of cause and event was rejected by the leaders of the two states as well as the masses.
God Struck them and they were ignorant of it (9:13)
Paul wrote nearly 800 years after Isaiah, “Oh the exceeding sinfulness of sin.” Sin deceives. Sin fools people. Sin blinds. Sin creates a swaddling and suffocating death shroud about a person’s life, energy and powers of thought. It manifests itself in so many pernicious ways and normally, as it entices people into its sticky web, it seems to bless and release people in its initial enticing manifestation. Nobody would ever sin if there was no enjoyment in that sin at the start. Like the infamous Prodigal Son in the Master’s ingenious parable, those opening days of the renegade son with his trunk full of inherited money being surrounded with new friends and a hectic social life at his own expense seemed incredibly wonderful. But as the money ran out, so did his friends. As the party’s dried up, so did his money. As his parasite “friends” disappeared, so did his joy. The deception was blindingly total. It wasn’t until he had been feeding the pigs for quite some time as a hired hand that, Jesus said, “He came to himself.” Ah! Blessed yet painful moment of realization for the much loved son! He came to himself! The son who was driven by selfishness, hardness of heart and utter immaturity stepped out from the death shroud of sin into the blinding light of full awareness, self accountability and full repentance with deep humility. Yet the familial damage was done! He was greeted and hugged by his father, but did he ever regain the relationship with his loyal and subservient brother at home? Discuss!
In the same way as the dynamics of the prodigal son, Israel was lost in its state of blindness in the days contemporary with Isaiah’s ministry. In 722 BC Israel was to be decimated throughout many locations of the nation, including the capital, Samaria, and the vast majority of its’ population were to be marched off to various Assyrian locations. They have never been heard of since. That shocking dispersal of Israel’s ten northern tribes is an unresolved mystery that the world has never closed the books on. The people of the northern Kingdom lost their leaders and lying religionist false prophets before the total collapse under the iron hand of Assyria. Isaiah’s words were directly seen to be true as monarch after monarch was assassinated in the guise of progressive revolutions of the general population, but what were really a series of murderous acts of unfettered megalomania. Apart from whatever manner in which Isaiah chose to send his prophecies up to Samaria, at the end of its days, the prophetic voice to Israel was withdrawn, and the land of the northern kingdom was closed down and left as a land full of “ghost towns.”
It was exactly the same manifest symptoms with Judah as with the southern kingdom, but much less acute at this particular point of time. Thus, history shows us the later fulfillment of this same prophetic word, spoken somewhere around 740 – 732 BC, finally falling on Jerusalem in 587 BC. Have no doubt; what was good for the goose of Israel was just as right and proper for the gander of Judah.
The people of Judah were like Judas Iscariot luxuriating in having thirty wonderful pieces of silver in his pocket before he came to himself with such force that he felt compelled to commit suicide. Agh! Guilt and shame, when conceived in the heart and being birthed as conjoined twins, make monstrous and merciless slave masters. This monstrous duo leads people to tears, to broken relationships, to self hate, to mental illness, and finally to murder and/or suicide. Isaiah’s nation was like Peter in that limbo time just after he had denied Christ yet before he had met the Saviour’s eyes. No tears yet, no regrets yet, just self justification – just numbness in the frightful status of knowing he was wrong, yet inwardly insistently denying it to himself. Peter needed the external pressure of the glance of Christ to see the reality of the evil of what he had done before he broke into a thousand pieces.
Yet what was even more horrific in the status of Judah and Israel and the generation in which Isaiah lived was that they had all experienced lots of God ordained opportunities to “come to themselves.” They had been given chances to throw down their thirty pieces of silver earned by denying their relationship with Yahweh through the covenant. They were eating the pigswill of life and had been given by Isaiah thoughts of their loving Father God waiting at the gates of heaven to welcome the prodigal Hebrews home. Yet they chose firmly and strongly to abide with the pigs of life and ignore any of the divine promises. They were addicted to their sinful lifestyles to the point that they could not possibly envisage any better way. They were imprisoned with strong spiritual bars that held them securely captive. They were caught in the merry-go- round of sin and had been warned and spoken to so severely, so powerfully and so directly by Isaiah and other prophets that they had evolved a sort of spiritual immunity against the strong language of the Holy Spirit. They were constantly moving towards the point of no return. Like a man with advanced leprosy they were numb to what was straight forward reality being explained to them by men of the likes of Isaiah and his ilk. They had their hands and feet firmly resting in the bonfire of judgment and yet could not for their own lives take themselves to safety because the leprous numbness of spiritual strongholds did not let them feel the pain of the burning.
Seeking God was not even on their agenda (9:13)
The neglect of God by the Hebrews was not merely a refusal to face Him, but to apathetically ignore the divine advances and put their fingers in their ears to the divine words of love from the throne of God. “The people do not turn to Him that smites them.” This is yet another plank amongst many that constituted the floorboards of the elements that brought upon them this dreadful and terrible judgment of God on both Israel and Judah. They refused to kiss the hand that God reached out to them with. Nobody saw that the judgment was simply the severe side of the mercy of God, like the slap of a loving parent. They despised the love of God, refusing His prophets, denying His precepts and plotting and planning to keep their lives as strict “No God zones.” They were developing, in the hardness of their hearts, zero-tolerance towards God and His prophets. Seeking God was not at all on their agenda. “No God here!” “God not wanted!”
God intended to prune the nation of its infrastructure characters (9: 14-15)
“Therefore the Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.” In this respect we can soundly assert that nations gets the kind of government they deserve. When seen from this perspective, Israel was justly experiencing exactly what Judah was to experience in a future generation. The elders of the nation and society’s wise men were killed or exiled and removed from their positions of responsibility. The top and the bottom of societies pecking order would be utterly removed leaving the best and most responsible positions in Samaria’s society to the unlearned, unwise and irresponsible, and the basic lower skilled jobs that were nevertheless vital to the maintenance of society were left vacant in a social order where nobody wanted to humble themselves and work at the lowest most menial tasks. These things were true in the extreme in Israel. The same principle was just beginning to bite in Jerusalem.
Prophets that teach lies (9:15)
There is an added detail to this aspect of “the head and tail, the branch and the rush,” as mentioned above. Isaiah itemizes the false prophets in Judah and especially Israel as being at the extreme bottom of the social barrel – people that needed removing from the scene of time for the betterment of the majority. Thus we perceive God’s own take on false prophets who spit out words to lead people astray. They were imaged as the most useless people that carried all things negative to their respective peoples. That is God’s own description of them, neither Isaiah’s nor mine.
All this was to happen in a single day (9:15)
For both Judah and Israel, these things would finally happen all of a sudden. I do not mean that the downfall of them both would be an unsuspected shock – no! – anything but! The fall of both Samaria (722BC) and Jerusalem (587 BC) would come after prolonged sieges. The successes of the Assyrians and Babylonians in both of the sieges were not a particular shock to a watching world. The real shock was the aftermath of the successes. Both Tiglath Pileser III of Assyria in 722 BC, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587 BC razed to the ground both cities. Now that was shocking for people in the surrounding nations. In quick succession both Aram (Syria) and Israel were not only defeated, but wiped off the map with the capital cities also becoming a ruin of history. Syria fell a decade prior to Israel and were exiled to Kir, but at least Damascus remained. The Arameans were all marched off to Kir, and the Hebrews of the northern ten tribes were also carried away, and then a different empire with a different modus operandi did exactly to Jerusalem what had happened to Samaria. Both Hebrew populations were exiled by God and physically removed in shame to foreign gentile parts and both events were predicted and detailed by the prophets who simply were not heeded by their contemporaries. It is this strange occurrence that causes Isaiah to factually predict that both individual falls of the two Hebrew nations would happen in a day i.e. at a certain point of time the day would arrive where even though Israel was present and in existence in the morning, by the end of that day the cities would not be in existence, nor the population still in the land. Exactly the same would occur with Judah and Jerusalem.
Leaders mislead and Guides misguide (9:16)
The metaphor Isaiah uses is taken from the nature of trees and plants. Firstly, Isaiah says, “the branch and the rush” as opposed to “the branch and the root.” I believe this is because the Lord saved a remnant from both Samaria and later of Jerusalem, no matter how small the groups would be, to be left in the land. God’s remnant is a persistent principle in many recurring prophecies that needs to be highlighted. But that is for a second time. Secondly, “Branch and root” would have suggested the complete annihilation of both Hebrew states. “The branch and the rush,” has a different significance, suggesting that the roots are left for future sprouting and the regrowth of the tree, i.e. the entire twelve tribes of Israel. The branch is an emblem of usefulness – persons of position and influence; the rush is a parabolic symbol of unfruitfulness and unprofitable people. The branch has the feel of strength and solidity; the rush brings the picture of weakness and inconstancy. The branch (in like manner as the head) is an item of supremacy, the rush of meanness. In the execution of His judgment for the impenitency and incorrigibleness of the Hebrew nations, God’s hand is utterly impartial. Yahweh spares no ranks or sorts or conditions of people at all. The judgment of God is fair, equal and impacts on the eternal spiritual nature of us all.
The political leaders as well as the spiritual guides were the blind that were leading the nation into an ever increasing blindness. They were removed from their positions by the hand of God.
Young men give God no pleasure (9:17)
“The Lord shall have no joy in their young men” The meaning of this strange statement is full of suggestion. It clearly infers that it is normal for God to delight in the young. But because of the dynamics of the sin and Godlessness of Isaiah’s generation both in Judah and Israel even the youth were so willfully wayward and set in their iniquitous ways that God took no pleasure in seeing them grow in evil and not in Godly stature. It has been said by some vague philosophic minds that “God keeps the world young by keeping children in it.” But in Isaiah’s generation the young were surpassing the elderly in plots and plans of evil doings. Isaiah is hereby prophesying that God Himself would cease to see in the Hebrew young men any hope for the future. When God sees no joy in the immediate and temporary future of the Hebrew nation, beware!
Widows and fatherless not responded to by Yahweh. (9:17)
The bad news gets hideously worse. Because even the widows and the fatherless are caught up in the maelstrom of sin and iniquity, following the examples of many, the tender hand of God is withdrawn – even from them. It is essential to perceive that if such a basic and fundamental precept of the law of Moses is ignored by Yahweh Himself that the level of evil, crime and man’s inhumanity to man in Israel and Judah must be worse than many of us can perceive.
All are wicked and ungodly (9:17)
We return here to the kind of language that Isaiah used in chapter one of his burden. Total sickness! Head to toe ulcers! No soundness in the body at all. The entire nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem have plunged themselves into a quagmire of terrible rampant nastiness, inequality, and utter godliness. There seems to be no redeeming features of the entire spiritual landscape. “Every mouth speaks vileness,” says one translation. The word translated “vileness” (Hebrew : enble) suggests decadence with a content that is rotten.
All this is huge when considered as a statement of what is happening amongst the Hebrews of Isaiah’s generation. Yet this is only the second point of evil that is warranting God’s judgment, and there are yet two points more to raise.
The point that Isaiah is making that after each statement what sounds as conclusive and final is no such thing. The judgments of God are raining down on the Hebrew people because their sins, when itemized seem to go on and on. When will they learn to respond in a godly fashion to the wooing of the Almighty?
- 50. The Swirling Overflowing Flood of the Assyrian Army. (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 54. Write the Vision Down and Tie it up Tightly. (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 47. Who has ever heard of Bit-Humri? (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 44. The Royal Confrontation. Prophet with King. Righteousness with Sin. Power with Powers (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 49. Media Advertising of the Word, Eighth Century BC style. (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 51. Anything that is not of Jesus Christ; Be Broken! (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)
- 61. Isaiah’s Classic Four Point Sermon on the Deafness of Judah – Introduction (Isaiah 5:25) (thelonghaulwithisaiah.wordpress.com)