Monday, February 11, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 28

God is the ultimate master when it comes to getting His point across. As humans we aren't always the swiftest bunch when God is trying to tell us something. I am a prime example of this, because there have been numerous points where I have either ignored or simply not heard what God is trying to tell me. We see in Isaiah 28 that God is persistent in getting His message across to Israel. This chapter primarily focuses on the northern kingdom. Though it is concentrated mostly on judgment in the form of an Assyrian invasion, it also focuses on mercy and wisdom. This is the mercy and wisdom of God, and He is using this judgment to get the attention of Ephraim, a prominent tribe of the northern kingdom.

1 Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
       to the fading flower, his glorious beauty,
       set on the head of a fertile valley—
       to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!

 2 See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong.
       Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind,
       like a driving rain and a flooding downpour,
       he will throw it forcefully to the ground.

 3 That wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards,
       will be trampled underfoot.

 4 That fading flower, his glorious beauty,
       set on the head of a fertile valley,
       will be like a fig ripe before harvest—
       as soon as someone sees it and takes it in his hand,
       he swallows it. – Isaiah 28:1-4

The wreath Isaiah is referring to here is Samaria, the capital city of the northern kingdom. Isaiah is giving a preview of the Assyrian invasion that occurred in 722 B.C. In the following verses, he also goes on to state how the leaders and priests of Ephraim mocked him for his prophecies. They did not believe they would come to pass because they had thumbed their nose at God. They believed they controlled their own destinies, not the God that had brought them into this promised land of Israel. They felt Isaiah's teachings were too simplistic about loving God with all your heart. This is why the Assyrians had to invade, so they could teach God's people a lesson.

24 When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
       Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil?

 25 When he has leveled the surface,
       does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin?
       Does he not plant wheat in its place,
       barley in its plot,
       and spelt in its field?

 26 His God instructs him
       and teaches him the right way.

 27 Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
       nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin;
       caraway is beaten out with a rod,
       and cummin with a stick.

 28 Grain must be ground to make bread;
       so one does not go on threshing it forever.
       Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it,
       his horses do not grind it.

 29 All this also comes from the LORD Almighty,
       wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. – Isaiah 28:24-29

Here we see the point of all this judging. I think you'll agree that to this point, the book of Isaiah has painted a pretty dark picture. There has been more prophesy, judgment, and punishment than I have seen almost anywhere else in the Bible. Behind that, though, is a purpose. That purpose is seen here with a wonderful metaphor in verses 24 through 29. Since threshing is a known symbol of judgment, we learn here that there will be a time that the threshing ends. God cannot punish forever. He is merely trying to produce a good harvest in us. Isaiah wants here to not think of it as punishment, but as discipline. From discipline we can learn strength and how to follow God on our own. That is the root lesson in all of this.


  1. Why would the priests, those closest to God, think they knew it all?
  2. How does the metaphor of the cornerstone in verse 17 relate to the ending verses?
  3. Should we fear God's judgment, or welcome it as correction?

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