Wednesday, November 29, 2023

2023.11.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 30

Read Isaiah 30

Questions from the Scripture text: Upon whom is the fourth woe pronounced (Isaiah 30:1a)? What do they do in verse 1b–c? What is wrong with this consulting and planning (cf. Isaiah 30:2b)? Why does this happen (Isaiah 30:1d)? In whom do they trust instead (Isaiah 30:2)? How will this turn out for them (Isaiah 30:3)? What can’t be found even from the northernmost to southernmost parts of Egypt (Isaiah 30:4-5)? What will be found instead (Isaiah 30:5d)? What weight will fall upon whom in Isaiah 30:6? But what will they have to show for their poor beasts’ efforts (Isaiah 30:7)? What will Egypt’s new nickname be (verse 7c)? What word does YHWH now send to those who failed to ask for one (Isaiah 30:8-9)? In fact, what have they actually done to the Lord’s Word (Isaiah 30:10-11)? What are they actually trusting in, instead, when they do this (Isaiah 30:12)? What will the Lord do to their efforts (Isaiah 30:13-14)? What had the Lord YHWH offered them (Isaiah 30:15)? And what had they said that they would do instead (Isaiah 30:16)? So, what is He making the outcome of their plan to be (Isaiah 30:17)? To what end is He bringing this disaster upon them (Isaiah 30:18)? To Whom will He force them to turn? What will He do for them when this happens (Isaiah 30:19)? And what will He restore to them (Isaiah 30:20)? How close will the words of the true prophets be (Isaiah 30:21a)? How practical the application (verse 21b)? How continually (verse 21c–d)? What will they do with their former hope and delight (Isaiah 30:22)? What will the Lord do for them at that point (Isaiah 30:23)? And what else will enjoy the difference (Isaiah 30:24, cf. Isaiah 30:6)? What will He provide (Isaiah 30:25)? How does Isaiah 30:26 communicate the supernatural/new-creation nature of this provision? But what approaches in Isaiah 30:27a? And what will this be like for the nations (Isaiah 30:27-28)? What will YHWH give to His people in that day (Isaiah 30:29)? What comes near/is heard in Isaiah 30:30a? But what will this music and singing be like for those who are the Lord’s enemies (Isaiah 30:30-33)? When was this role for Tophet/Hell purposed (Isaiah 30:33a)? What is it like (verse 33)?

How does the Lord show mercy to those who prefer human wisdom to God’s authoritative Word? Isaiah 30 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that if men prefer their own wisdom to God’s Word, it is a mercy when God visits their plans with devastating failure

Rebellious children. The fourth woe addresses those who take counsel (Isaiah 30:1b), devise plans (verse 1c), and take advice. The problem is that it isn’t God’s counsel, God’s plan, or God’s advice (Isaiah 30:2b). Thus they are called “rebellious children” (Isaiah 30:1a, Isaiah 30:9). Since they refuse God’s Word *to* them, they will hear God’s Word *about* them (Isaiah 30:8). 

Rejecting God’s authoritative Word (Isaiah 30:10a–b) is the hallmark of the rebellious (Isaiah 30:9a). It’s not that they don’t want preaching at all. Rather, they refuse to hear YHWH’s law (verse 9c); they accumulate for themselves preachers of smooth things (Isaiah 30:10c; cf. 2 Timothy 4:3–4). 

But to despise God’s Word is not merely to have a flaw in our preferences; it is to despise God Himself (Isaiah 30:11). It is to give oneself to perversity (Isaiah 30:12)! God offers them rest, quietness, and confidence in turning to Him (Isaiah 30:15a–c), but they reject Him Himself in rejecting His Word.

Merciful devastation. In this case, the smooth and deceitful words told them that the Assyrian threat could be turned away by the help of Egypt (Isaiah 30:2). But God is going to turn their hope into their shame (Isaiah 30:3). From Zoan in the north to Hanes in the south (Isaiah 30:4), not only would there be no benefit (Isaiah 30:5a–b), but there would be positive failure and humiliation (verse 5c). 

The poor beasts in Isaiah 30:6 would bear the treasure of Israel back to Egypt through the wilderness (same word as “South”), obtaining nothing in return. They unwittingly reverse the sudoxE, and their hope (Egypt) gets a new nickname. Rahab has been a nickname for Egypt, but now it gets expanded to “Rahab the Do-Nothing” (Isaiah 30:7). 

How completely will the Lord shatter them (Isaiah 30:13)? Such that there won’t be a peace left large enough to carry any water (Isaiah 30:14). Since they have rejected having God Himself as their help (Isaiah 30:15) in favor of a plan that depends on their initiative, the Lord’s judgment will match and exceed their vigor (Isaiah 30:16), until they are utterly devastated (Isaiah 30:17)

Why would the Lord do this? He is patiently (Isaiah 30:18a) bringing them to the point where they have nothing but the Lord’s glory and mercy (verse 18b). Let the believer remember that the kindness of God often comes in the painful, afflicting stroke (cf. Hebrews 12:6–11).

Subduing mercy. As the Lord wipes the tears from their eyes (Isaiah 30:19), they are glad. More than that, it was precisely through affliction (Isaiah 30:20a–b) that they are glad, now, to hear His Word (verse 20c–d). And the Word that they now receive is given to them abundantly. The Word comes near them (Isaiah 30:21a). The Word addresses, practically, the very part of their life in which they find themselves (verse 21b). The Word persists with them at all times and places (verse 21c–d). 

Not only do they receive the Word, but the Lord gives them to respond to it. They reject their old idols (Isaiah 30:22). The mercy of God does not leave His people unchanged. Rather than giving them what they want, His mercy transforms them into those who hate what they used to love and love what they used to hate.

Ultimate mercy. The blessing that their own ideas utterly failed to give them, the Lord Himself will now give (Isaiah 30:23a–d). Even beasts, that had fared so poorly in Isaiah 30:6, are now blessed richly in Isaiah 30:23-24. We’ve already seen this as an indication of ultimate mercy (cf. Isaiah 11:6–9). This becomes clear in Isaiah 30:25-26, especially with the brightness of the place. This wiping away of tears, and supernatural provision of water, and brightness that far exceeds the sun is hearkened to in Revelation 21:3–6, Revelation 22:1–5. The same mercy that brings us to repentance has its ultimate end as the mercy that we will enjoy in perfect blessedness forever.

Ultimate judgment. Finally, Assyria (Isaiah 30:31) will come under the very judgment of Hell (Isaiah 30:27-33). The song of Israel’s blessing (Isaiah 30:29) will correspond to the song of YHWH’s punishing Assyria (Isaiah 30:32). Whereas Egypt was not so great as to be the help they had imagined, Assyria is not so great a threat as they had imagined. They should not fear them who can only kill the body. The Lord, after killing the body, righteously casts the wicked soul into Hell (cf. Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5): the indignation of His anger, the flame of devouring fire (Isaiah 30:30). Tophet’s (the fire in the valley of Hinnom/Gehenna) pyre is fire with much wood (Isaiah 30:33a–c)—the breath of YHWH kindling it like a stream of brimstone (verse 33d–f). God’s people and God’s enemies both get the same thing in the end: God Himself. For His people, God is their blessed delight. For His enemies, God is their burning destruction.

From where does the desire to hear only smooth/easy preaching come? What devastating failure or painful affliction have you had in your life? IF you are a believer, what was it accomplishing? How has mercy subdued your resistance to God’s Word? What else does such mercy give you, beside repentance? If God is not your blessed delight forever, then what will you experience forever?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for Your authoritative Word. Forgive us for how we have sometimes rejected it, even preferring our own plans to Your perfect precepts. We have been blind to how rejecting Your authoritative Word is really a rejection of You. Save us from our sin, bring us through affliction, wipe the tears from our eyes, and make Yourself our hope and our joy in Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

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