Friday, March 27, 2015

Warning Judah

Isaiah 28:14-29

“Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.  Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.  Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (Isaiah 28:14-17)

Isaiah has just warned the drunkards of Ephraim what is going to happen to Israel.  Now he switches his focus to the leaders of Jerusalem.  They scorned the idea of trusting God to save them as being naive and had hired the Assyrian army to protect them.  The Assyrians were extremely harsh in their dealings with other people, often killing indiscriminately to cause terror among other people.   Ahaz and the leaders of Judah were counting on their agreement to protect them when the Assyrians invaded Syria and Israel.  They were depending on the Assyrian promises even though as it would turn out those promises were lies to collect the money Judah offered to pay for their protection.  In reality, they were making a deal with the devil, though they didn’t realize it.  

While the prophecy would be fulfilled almost immediately, it foreshadows what Israel will do during the Tribulation, making a treaty with the King of the North.  Halfway through the Tribulation, the Antichrist will break the treaty, turning on Israel, according to Daniel 9:27.  “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Instead of the lies of the Assyrian kings, or of the Antichrist and Satan, God promised to place a king, Jesus Christ among them in the future.  He would be a solid rock of truth.  He would be a proven source of truth, offering real worth, and mot just empty promises.  Those who believed in God’s promises would not be rushed into making alliances elsewhere for protection, but could wait for him to fulfill his promise.  He will also send judgment with a definite line of demarcation to identify what is right of not, using a precise measurement like a builder laying out a foundation or wall.  He will rule with a rod of iron, permitting no deviation. 
“And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.  From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report.  For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.” (Isaiah 28:18-29)

The treaty with Assyria and later the treaty with the King of the North would be annulled or set aside, and the agreement with Satan would turn out meaningless.  The Assyrians would invade Judah and ransack it, breaking their treaty, and the antichrist would do the same when he came to power.   Even from the time the treaty was made it would present ongoing problems and conflicts. Just trying to abide by its terms would be as frustrating as trying to sleep in a bed that is to short and cover oneself with a blanket that isn’t big enough to cover him completely.

“For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” (Isaiah 28:21)

Though we know few of the details, we know that at Perazim, God gave David a mighty victory over the Philistines, as described in II Samuel 5:20.  At Gibeon, the Amorite kings united in an attack on Israel and God fought for them.  Joshua 10:10-14 describes what happened.  “And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.  And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.   And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.”

When the Lord fights for Israel at the End of the Tribulation it will be like what happened at Perazim or at Gibeon, with God utterly destroying their enemies.  When He gets done things will seem strange , totally different than anything we have experienced since Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. 

“Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.  Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech.” (Isaiah 28:22-23)

The leaders of Judah are warned that to view these promises as just a fairy tale or delusional hope will only cause them to be more strongly entangled with the world and less able to escape.  God has planned a destruction that will consume the whole earth,  and Isaiah advises the leaders to listen to his warning.   
“Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground?  When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place?  For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.” (Isaiah 28:24-26)

When a farmer plows his ground, he isn’t doing it just for something to do, but with a apecific plan of planting that field.  He puts in many hours loosening the soil and breaking up clods to increase the chances of the seed growing.  Once the ground is prepared to his satisfaction, he scatters the seed, of whatever sort of crop he wants.  He does this because God has taught him it is the most productive way.  In the Same way God prepares his fields for the harvest at the end of time.

“For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod.  Bread corn is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break it with the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it with his horsemen.  This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.” (Isaiah 28:27-29)

The approach used in doing a job varies according to the material being used and what you are trying to accomplish.  While a hard grain may require a hard surface and heavy weights to remove the outer shell, separating grapes from their skins and seeds requires a different approach.  The tools used to thresh wheat would lose all the grape juice, wasting all one’s effort.  God teaches us to make these changes, and he is very wise and successful in whatever he does.  We can expect him to use the tools and techniques that will best accomplish his purpose.

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