James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!Isaiah 28:1-35:10
JUDAH AND EGYPT
These chapters make a unit since, with the exception of the opening part of chapter 28, they chiefly deal with Judah’s futile alliance with Egypt.
Israel, or the kingdom of the ten tribes, is addressed under the name of her leading tribe “Ephraim” (Isaiah 28:1). Her great sin is strong drink. “The head of the fat valley” is Samaria the capital, which is soon to be overthrown by the Assyrians (Isaiah 28:2-4). Observe, however, the usual forecast of the end of the age and the coming deliverance and triumph of the faithful remnant (Isaiah 28:5). This is a parallel to what we have seen in so many instances hitherto.
At Isaiah 28:14, Jerusalem rather than Samaria, is addressed, Judah rather than Israel. The end of the age is in mind and the covenant with the Antichrist at this time (compare Isaiah 28:15 with Daniel 9, especially Daniel 9:27). The Messiah is seen coming in judgment, and destroying the power of the Antichrist (compare 2 Thessalonians 2).
Ariel, which means “the lion of God,” is one of the names of Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1-2). A siege is predicted (Isaiah 29:3-6), and while this may primarily refer either to that of the Assyrians under Sennacherib, or the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, yet before the close of the chapter, the time of blessing portrayed for Judah shows a further fulfillment in the last siege of the united Gentile nations under the Antichrist. Again we find the parallel to earlier chapters, especially 10, and an illustration of the law of recurrence. Read also Daniel 11, Micah 4:11; Micah 5:4-15, and Zechariah 12-14.
When Jerusalem was besieged by Sennacherib, and later by Nebuchadnezzar, she sought aid from Egypt, her natural ally, because of her proximity, but also because Egypt was Assyria’s and Babylon’s natural rival for world-power. This was contrary to the divine will, for Judah should have trusted in God. Egypt’s aid on both occasions was to no purpose as other Scriptures show, and the whole circumstance is typical of the end of the age. When, in that day, Jerusalem for the last time shall be besieged by the Gentile nations, again will her hope turn to the world which Egypt represents, and in vain. All this is set before us in what follows. We have (1) the alliance and its failure (Isaiah 30:1-7); (2) the nation warned but to no purpose (Isaiah 30:8-17); (3) the customary encouragement to the faithful remnant (Isaiah 30:18-21); and (4) all of which is to be accomplished by the return of the Lord (Isaiah 30:22-23).
The alliance with Egypt is again condemned (Isaiah 31:1-3), and is quite unnecessary in view of Jehovah’s purpose towards His faithful people in that day (Isaiah 31:4-9). It must be clear that these latter verses refer to the future since no such defense of Jerusalem by Jehovah has yet taken place.
The connection with the preceding is close. There Jehovah, the second person of the Trinity, is seen interposing on behalf of Judah, and here He is seen actually reigning over her in the millennial period following. Jesus Christ is this King (Isaiah 32:1). Millennial blessings are portrayed (Isaiah 32:2-5). The Holy Spirit is poured out, and peace ensues (Isaiah 32:15-20). Read Joel 2.
Practically the same ground is covered here as in the preceding chapters. Judgment is pronounced on the enemy (Isaiah 33:1); the prayer of the faithful remnant is heard (Isaiah 33:2-6); the judgment is seen in execution (Isaiah 33:7-12); the faithful are dwelling in safety and beholding the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:13-24).
This is a parallel to chapter 24, and one of the darkest chapters in the Bible, describing a judgment world-wide. The indignation of God is upon all the nations and their armies, an enlargement of that spoken of upon the Assyrian, and of which that was a type (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).
After these judgments, blessing and glory are resting upon Judah. Evidently the millennium is once more pictured here.
1. What central fact unifies these chapters?
2. To which kingdom does the opening prophecy of chapter 28 apply?
3. What specific sin is judged?
4. How was Samaria located topographically?
5. To what does Isaiah 28:15 apply?
6. Are you familiar with 2 Thessalonians 2?
7. What does Ariel mean, and to what is the word applied?
8. Why, naturally speaking, should Judah have sought aid from Egypt?
9. What makes it clear that chapter 31 is future in its application?
10. Are you familiar with Joel 2?
11. Name two of the darkest chapters thus far met in the prophets.
12. What are some of the millennial features foretold in the last chapter of this lesson?