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Lowell Brueckner

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God and His People


30. An expository study of Isaiah, chapter 31-32

Chapter 31
The Egyptians have always been known for their horses.

Earlier in this book we learned much about God dealing with the enemies of Judah and now we are learning about their ally. We do not need much discernment to beware of our enemies, but the Lord wants to help us to see a greater danger in our would-be allies. Above all, we need to be aware of ourselves; the truth is that we are our own worst enemies.

Great precautions have to be taken against the one, who we see when we look in a mirror. An old preacher used to say, “My greatest enemy is the man, who married my wife!” In these days of common divorce and remarriage, he may have been misunderstood, so just in case something else comes to mind, I will clarify that he was referring to himself.

I hope that we learned in the last chapter that ungodliness begins with rebellious, stubborn children, who insist on doing things their way. Each one of us must consider himself capable of falling into this condition and, to whatever degree that it is true in our lives, we must repent and turn back to God’s way. We must determine to stay close to the Scriptures and have our eyes fixed on Christ in prayerful dependency. The rebellious go out of their way to avoid situations in which God is the singular answer to their needs. So we saw them in the last chapter, attempting to form an alliance with Egypt, trusting in the arm of the flesh, rather than trusting God.

The divine judgment against this condition is given to us by an inspired Jeremiah: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord” (Jer.17:5). Does that sound like the exact duplicate of what we are studying in Isaiah?  In 30:1 he addressed rebellious children, who alienated themselves from God. In His place, they turned for security to Egypt, their strength and their numbers, to “rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong.” Thereby, they bring themselves under the divine “woe”.

Basically, the great sin that Judah is committing consists of insulting God, feeling that their fellow man is more trustworthy than He is.  They “do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (v.1). In particular, they are rejecting God, according to the attribute that Isaiah has been prepared to continually bring before them… His holiness. Isaiah, at the inception of his ministry, saw the heavenly beings crying, “Holy, holy, holy”. Judah is also rejecting His lordship, by refusing to turn and submit to His counsel.

It is difficult to find an adjective to describe this kind of foolishness. “He is wise…”, they are turning away from perfect wisdom. “And brings disaster”; they are inviting a display of His judgment. “He does not call back his words…”; once He has determined to act, He will not repent and therefore the calamity is sure. The evildoers, who have forged the plan to resort to Egypt, and all the associates, who have endorsed their plan, are about to encounter a God aroused to anger (v.2).

We have already pointed to the key factor in their folly, as we stated in the previous chapter: “They risked their lives and treasures to go down to Egypt, a kingdom whose glory was in the past, but preferred ignorance concerning the ways of the all-wise, unchanging God.” “The Egyptians are man, and not God.” Then we also looked at the mismatch of the conflict of flesh vs. spirit: “Their horses are flesh, and not spirit.” The battle is lost before it begins. Egypt will stumble and Judah will fall and “they will all perish together” (v.3).

We have been speaking of a portion of the Jews, who devised the plan to ally with Egypt. This plan is particularly senseless in the light of the promise of God to protect Jerusalem. God will face the attack as a lion faces a band of shepherds, who make noise in an attempt to scare it off. “The Lord of hosts (armies) will come down to fight on Mount Zion…” (v.4).

Today, Israel has what is called an Iron Dome missile defense system to ward off rocket attacks, but 2,700 years ago, the Lord of hosts, “like birds hovering”, provided a seamless, impenetrable protection for Jerusalem (v.5). He now calls for repentance, to “turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted” (v.6). It Is Time to Turn Back to God, is the title of a song, written by a friend in Spain, and that is the simple solution to all our problems.

Judah was to break from its sinful idolatry, the idols made by their own hands, as well as the plans conceived in their minds. It was idolatry then, and it is idolatry now, to trust in that which men have formed in their minds and then with their hands, whatever that may be. The idols are much more sophisticated in modern times, but they spring from the same sources, as the silver and gold images of ancient times… the minds and hands of men (v.7).  “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man; and a sword, not of man, shall devour him; and he shall flee from the sword” (v.8). Isaiah is writing of the mightiest weapon that ever has been or ever will be in the universe… the sword of the Lord.

We can see from many biblical examples that, when the sword of God is unsheathed, the effect brought upon the enemy is terror and panic; the enemy deserts the battlefield. We turn from the great defeat of the Assyrian world power, conducted in the time of King Hezekiah, to the end-time destruction of the world power of the antichrist. In the heat of one final war, Jerusalem will be the furnace, indwelt by the consuming fire of the Lord in Zion (v.9). Here is what will happen: “The beast was captured, and with it the false prophet… these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire… And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Rev.19:20,21).    

Chapter 32

Isaiah takes us once again to the millennial Reign of Christ upon the earth. This is your hope, oh Jew, from the mouth of your great prophet, Isaiah. This is the hope also of the Gentile nations, because it is the final destiny and purpose of this planet Earth. “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice” (v.1).

Under the King of Kings, princes will reign with Him. First of all, the apostles will reign: “I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may… sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Lk.22:29,30). The Gentile believers will also reign with Him: “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Co.6:2, as well as 2 Ti.2:12; Rev.2:26-27; 3:21).

Rather than oppression, the millennial world leaders will provide protection and security, refreshment and shade (v.2). Imagine meek people in charge of government, being true public servants (Mt.5:5). Jesus said that He was meek and lowly of heart, and that we were to learn from Him. I think it is worth mentioning that I have found, both in Spanish and Romanian, that the word for meekness is that used for an animal, which has been tamed and trained, so as to be useful. This will characterize the leadership of the Millennial Reign.

Verse 3 is a contrast to Isaiah’s words, quoted by Jesus, of those who have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear (Is.6:10). In the Millennium, the people will reach their potential and gain great understanding of the ways of the Lord. Those with weakness of character will be transformed in their heart and in their speech. Their whole personality will be ruled by a healthy heart (v.4).

Catch the perversity, which has grown over the centuries, from the time of Isaiah to the time of Christ, and now over the past 2,000 years. We are living in a day, when it is very obvious to the person informed through the Bible, that good is called evil and evil is called good. In the righteous Reign of Christ, perversion will come to an end and “the fool will no more be called noble, nor the scoundrel said to be honorable” (v.5).

First, Isaiah refers to the fool of verse 5. He teaches us that the words of the fool are born in a sinful heart. Jesus gave us the same teaching: “The things that come out of a person are what defile him” (Mk.7:15). What is in the heart determines practice and speech. It is a spiritual matter, beginning with the heart’s concept of God: “Error concerning the Lord” (v.6). From a poor concept of God and the lack of a right relationship with Him, springs bad treatment towards of our fellow man. In India, I learned that the Hindu, because of His total ignorance of the nature of God, leaves the poor man to suffer in his poverty, because he believes that he is reincarnated to suffer, due to his past life. Only in places influenced by the Bible are humanitarian practices well-developed.

Secondly, the scoundrel of verse 5 is uncovered. The fool, due to negligence, may be ignorant of the right way. The scoundrel, though he may know better, is bent on doing evil. He is simply evil, planning wicked things, lying to ruin the poor, and turning away from  what is right, he chooses to do what is wrong (v.7). In the style of the Proverbs, Isaiah follows with a contrast… the plans and principles of the noble (v.8).

In the next five verses, Isaiah speaks to the female population, whose fault is complacency in a dangerously ungodly time. They are at ease; he commands them to rise. They are at peace; he commands them to shudder and tremble. They are to hear an unpleasant, disconcerting message and awake to reality about what will take place in a year’s time. Judgment will fall in the form of a crop failure at harvest time and the presence of “joyous houses in an exultant city” is not the proper display, in light of this soon-coming disaster. Thorns and briers will take over the orchards and vineyards and they will suffer a shortage of the basic necessities of life… food and clothing (v.9-13).

This prophecy foretells an empty palace, because the king will be dethroned. The streets will be deserted, because many of the populace will be taken into captivity. The countryside will be overgrown, because of neglect, and will turn back into a habitat of wild animals (v.14). This may have been partially true at the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, but it became a much greater reality, when Babylon completely defeated Judah and razed Jerusalem. In chapter 29, verse 17, we learned of a conversion of a forest turned into a fruitful field and, in turn, the fruitful field would become a forest. This was followed by a report of a conversion of the society.

Some of the same vocabulary is used here in describing an outpouring of the Spirit of God: “Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field and the fruitful field is deemed a forest” (v.15) This prophecy took on spiritual significance on the Day of Pentecost, but nothing of the dimension described in Isaiah will come upon the Jew, until his full revival, when the Kingdom of Judah is totally restored.

Righteousness will come to the country areas. Agriculture and forestry will be blessed with righteousness and even the plants and animals will experience the effects of a righteous reign (v.16). Only when righteousness comes into play will peace, quietness and trust dominate. Isaiah will show us in later chapters that there is no peace for the wicked. He cannot expect it, until he submits to the righteous rule of the Good Shepherd: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Ps.23:3). That is the ambient of restful green pastures and still waters.

God’s kingdom is one of perfect righteousness and He can be pleased with nothing less. His righteousness was wonderfully demonstrated on the cross, when every sin and offense was totally annihilated and a holy God looked on in satisfaction. Men could now be at peace with Him and when His Son reigns on this earth in righteousness, the effect will be peace: “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (v.17).

We have the analogy of sheep and a Shepherd in Psalm 23, but in verse 18, we have no analogy at all, but the reality of people living in peace with their God: “My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” Therefore, Isaiah once more reminds us of the necessity of judgment that will usher in righteousness. Among the Gentile church, the principle holds (v.19): “For it is time for judgment to begin at the house of God…” (1 P.4:17). Judgment will cause some to exit, but others will experience remorse and repentance. Without the disciplining hand of judgment falling on the church, we can expect no revival of peace.

The ox and the donkey speak of the farm work in the field and the chapter ends with an encouragement to an extensive planting engagement. If you are looking for true happiness, then sow the seed beside all waters. Give the ox and the donkey free rein and let the seed fall upon every watered field (v.20). Let the work of God prosper and the seed of the Word spread. This happens best, when the Spirit of God is poured out upon His people from on high, when heavenly influences speed and broaden the work and it becomes wonderfully fruitful. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit…” (Jn.15:8).


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