Wednesday, December 06, 2023

2023.12.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 31–32

Read Isaiah 31–32

Questions from the Scripture text: Upon whom is the fifth woe pronounced (Isaiah 31:1a)? Upon what do these people rely (verse 1b–d)? But not upon Whom (verse 1e–f)? What aspects of His character make this negligence a disaster (Isaiah 31:2a–d)? And what about the Egyptians makes choosing them a disaster (Isaiah 31:3)? What will happen to whom? To what does the Lord liken the help that He would have given (Isaiah 31:4-5)? So, what does He urge them to do (Isaiah 31:6)? What will all do, when He displays Himself as the defender of His people (Isaiah 31:7)? What will be unique about the way Assyria is destroyed (Isaiah 31:8a–b)? How will the Lord do this (Isaiah 31:8-9b)? Who will this show has done this (Isaiah 31:9c)? From where does He express this fury (verse 9d–e)? When the Lord does this (cf. Isaiah 31:4-7) in the final, climactic way, what will happen then (Isaiah 32:1a)? What will rulers under Him be like (Isaiah 32:1-2)? What else will be perfected among man (Isaiah 32:3-4)? What was currently happening in Israel (Isaiah 32:5-7) that will be reversed in the last day (Isaiah 32:8)? What else was the blindness and injustice of the current day connected with (Isaiah 32:9)? What would happen to their self-indulgence and worldliness (Isaiah 32:10-13)? Where will this especially be felt (Isaiah 32:14)? Until what happens (Isaiah 32:15a)? How do verse 15b–c describe the ultimate reversal? How does Isaiah 32:16 describe righteousness being everywhere in that day (cf. 2 Peter 3:13)? What will this righteousness produce everywhere (Isaiah 32:17)? Who will enjoy this, where (Isaiah 32:18)? What other action of God (toward the wicked) accompanies the arrival of this day (Isaiah 32:19)? What sort of safety and peace will remain (Isaiah 32:20)?  

Why is it so dreadful to trust and delight in creatures? Isaiah 31–32 prepares us for the first serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these twenty-nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that trusting and delighting in creatures is foolish, not only because of how devastatingly they will fail us, but because the Lord is an infinitely able Helper and an infinitely pleasant Delight. 

Again, the Lord is condemning Israel’s hoping in Assyria as an example of the problem with all humanity. The help that cannot stand in the day of Assyria (Isaiah 31:1–3) certainly will not stand in the day of the Lord! The pleasure that is so easily wiped out (Isaiah 31:9-14) cannot satisfy and sustain for unending ages. 

The tragedy of our sinfulness is that the Lord offers Himself to be our Defender (Isaiah 31:1-2Isaiah 31:4-5). But trusting and delighting in creatures (Isaiah 31:7) is to revolt against the Lord (Isaiah 31:6), Who has offered to be our defense. 

When the Lord stops, and then destroys, Assyria (Isaiah 31:8-9), as we will see Him do a few chapters from now, it will be not only a rebuke and warning against Israel who had hoped in Egypt, but against all men who hope in anything else or anyone else. Again, the promised King is proclaimed in Isaiah 32:1a. Would that Hezekiah’s reign would have produced civil stability and peace like that in Isaiah 32:1-2! But even if it had been, the repeal of the fall implied in Isaiah 32:3-4 is something that no earthly king can produce. The opening of eyes, ears, hearts, and tongues is something that even Isaiah’s ministry would not produce (cf. Isaiah 6:10). The One being prophesied here is a King greater than Hezekiah and a prophet greater than Isaiah!

How desperately Israelites needed the reign of King Jesus and the ministry of Prophet Jesus! How desperately we need it as well. We need Jesus as Prophet because we are ignorant. We need Jesus as Priest because we are guilty. We need Jesus as King because we are weak and helpless. And the Israelites certainly were all of these things. They esteemed as nobility fools and misers (Isaiah 32:5) whose sin against God were actually impoverishing the land (Isaiah 32:6) and whose wicked schemes  were destroying the poor and needy (Isaiah 32:7). The reign of Christ will restore true nobility (Isaiah 32:8). 

The wickedness of the nobility was especially on display in the self-indulgent young women in Isaiah 32:9-11. Rather than giving themselves to service of their families, the picture is of them waiting for the new crops to arrive, together with the most recent batch of wine (Isaiah 32:10). But those who never did mourn over sin will mourn when the earthly delights for which they lived dry up (Isaiah 32:12).  This will hit hardest upon those wealthy who depended most upon their supply chain (Isaiah 32:13-14). 

Again, the failure of that in which Israel were delighting is contrasted with the refreshing and delight from the Spirit of the Lord (Isaiah 32:15a). The King, and His Spirit, will bring in an age in which righteousness reigns in the wild (Isaiah 32:16a) and in the garden (verse 16b). There will be peace and quietness everywhere (Isaiah 32:17). Their homes will be peaceful and secure (Isaiah 32:18), and country life will also be prosperous and secure (Isaiah 32:20). 

This is all in stark contrast to what the Lord brings upon the wicked, whose efforts are exposed not as gardens but as wild forest that the Lord destroys (Isaiah 32:19a), and who are identified here not with the city of God but the worldly city from Isaiah 32:14 which is humiliated in Isaiah 32:19b. Just as both invading Assyria’s army and indulgent Israel’s nobility will be devastated in the near term, all enemies and wicked will be devastated on the ultimate day of God’s restoring His people.

So that does put to us the questions below. The Lord’s wise providence brings us through situations that expose to us whether our hope is in Him and whether our delight is in Him. By His poured out Spirit, let us have Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King to throw away our idols (Isaiah 31:7) and return to the Lord (cf. Isaiah 31:6).

By what difficulties or threats has the Lord exposed what you are trusting in? And what have you been hoping in? What delights in life do you find yourself living for more than you ought? How easily can they be taken away? How does delighting in the Lord compare? What would it look like to be enjoying Him in those good things? Why wouldn’t the joy disappear, if the things did?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us, for we have been like those who go down to Egypt for help and put out trust in horses. We have found our security in our own plans, and in the governments of men. Pour out Your Spirit to make us to hope in King Jesus as our Ruler and Defender. And forgive us for finding our contentment and joy in Your good gifts, rather than in You Whose goodness has designed them for us and Whose goodness sustain them to us. By delighting ourselves in the created thing, we have often had our joy interrupted, when it would have persisted if it had been in You. So, forgive us, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH65A “Praise Waits for You in Zion”

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