Isaiah 28 - Be Careful with Whom You Make a Covenant

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

We can't be together in person, but we can study Isaiah together. Sorry for everyone getting in at chapter 28. If you have questions about chapters 1-27 I'd be glad to try to bring you up to speed as much as possible.

I recommend reading the chapter and having it in front of you using your Bible or switching between tabs using Bible Gateway. You can click the reddish button above to get to Bible Gateway. Just type in the Book and Chapter you want to read. Check to make sure it is the translation you prefer. Click the search buton and there you have it.

I'll go through a few verses at a time and comment. Please feel free to ask questions or share insights by writing in the "write a comment" box at the bottom of the blog.

Right - here we go.

Isaiah 28

This takes place in the 14th year of Hezekiah –. Remember, Ahaz chose not to trust God, but sought help from the Assyrians. Assyria destroyed Syria and Israel. But then the Assyrian Empire overflowed into Judah.

Isaiah had problems with Hezekiah. Even though he was pretty good he did the stupid thing of wanting to make a deal with Egypt. During this time there were those who favored the Egypt alliance and wanted to rebel against Assyrian rule. There were those who, like Isaiah, thought of the Assyrian rule as judgment from God and wanted Judah not to rebel against Assyria but to stand in faith in God. Hezekiah has a lapse of faith and he chooses to get into a covenant relationship with Egypt to rebel against Assyria. As a result there will be a greater destruction of Judah.

Verses 1-6: This is about Israel and Samaria. Ephraim is often used as another name for Israel. Samaria is the city at the head of the fertile valley. Ephraim is proud and drunken. It is fading in beauty. The reason for the woe in verse 1 is the coming invasion. The Lord has a powerful and strong one who will come and trample the wreath or crown of Samaria which is the pride of Ephraim. The first fig crops come out in June and is tender and is eaten very quickly. The main crop comes out in August. So, I have a fig story:

I actually had a couple of fig trees in my yard as a kid. We had about 4 acres and we completely fenced it off when we moved in. It had apparently never been fenced before. We had a large German Shepherd that turned out to be quite an excellent watchdog. One day, early in June, she was nowhere to be found. My mom rang the cowbell that would usually have her running to the front porch for dinner, but she didn't come. We listened and could here barking in the distance. It sounded threatening and didn't sound like our lovable “Baby” at all. We followed the barking down to the front of the property along the street and there was Baby barking at the fig trees which were in full leaf and had big juicy figs dangling from the limbs. Then we realized why she was barking. Up in the first tree were two little old ladies. For decades these neighbors had helped themselves to the first figs and this year would be no exception. They let themselves in through the gap in our chained fence, walked along the fence about 100 yards to the first fig tree, only to have Baby come charging at them in full protection mode. I always wondered if they knew they could climb a tree before this event happened. I also always wondered why my parents were mad at the dog and so nice to these ladies. Maybe they felt bad for them because they were illiterate and couldn't read the NO TRESPASSING or BEWARE OF DOG signs on the front gate. In any case, they left with a bundle of new figs, our phone number, and a promise to chain up the dog whenever they wanted anything from the farm. In the years that followed those ladies became my best customers when I started selling avocados door to door from my little red wagon. They would call if I didn't come around. I learned a lot from that event. Never trespass. Beware the dog, even if it is called Baby, and graciousness and kindness make lasting impressions and are almost always the right way to deal with sticky situations.

All of this will actually have a faith giving effect on the remnant because they will see what is happening and realize that God is keeping His word. He is fulfilling prophecy right in front of them. There faith will actually be strengthened in the middle of all of this and their wreath or crown will be the glorious God of angel armies who shows His power and might by being just and keeping His covenant promises (justice and righteousness the covenant parameters).

Verses 7-13 This is about Judah. “And these also.” This indicates a new group. Judah has the same problems as Ephraim. Think about all of the references to strong drink. They have poor vision and judgment because of their drunkenness. There is not a place in the kingdom that is clean because of all the vomit. (OK, totally reminds me of Tokyo Subways at 10PM after the businessmen hit the bars).

In 9 and 10 they are mocking Isaiah. They will not be taught by him and act as though he is treating them like children. Ki saw lasaw, saw lasaw, qaw laqaw, qaw laqaw, zeer sam, zeer sam. They imitate Isaiah's message. In drunkenness they stammer out Isaiah's prophecies like drunken gibberish.

Isaiah responds to them. He was accused of speaking gibberish, but he says, yep, I will speak a strange language to these people. Assyrian. The presence of the Assyrian language among them will be a sign of their unbelief and Isaiah's faith. In place of living in rest they are going to be broken, snared, and taken. 1 Corinthians 14:21-25. Also, think Pentecost. Why did some understand and others thought they were drunk? Tongues aren't there to bring the unbeliever to faith. It is there for the building up of the body. The remnant understood Isaiah. It increased their faith. The unbelievers did not. He sounded drunk to them. The existence of the Assyrian language among them is a sign of the unbelief of Israel and Judah, the faith of the remnant.

Verses 14-22 “Therefor.” What's the therefor there for?

Who is being addressed? The leaders of Israel who are scoffers and promoted unbelief are being addressed. They have entered into a covenant with Egypt. There are all sorts of references here. A lot of things are going on. In a sense this is about the covenant that Judah is making with Egypt. It is also about the covenant that the world makes with Satan when it goes against the cornerstone. Compare this with Daniel 9:20-27. Remember how I said that prophecy isn't always a one shot deal. There are some prophecies that are themes that repeat themselves until Jesus comes again and puts an end to Satan. In Isaiah 28 the same thing is happening here. They make a covenant with Egypt and it sounds like they joke that the angel of death will never pass over them, but they didn't make a Passover covenant with God, they did it with Egypt which builds pyramids as a kind of gateway into the land of the dead and hell.

Isaiah is saying, don't make a covenant that leads to death. Trust in the cornerstone. The purpose of the covenant with Egypt is to gain security, but it only leads to a flood (not a water flood, but a military one). It is pretty foolish because if you make a covenant with anyone but God it will fail. If we trust in anything but Jesus Christ we can expect the same. Our security is in the stone. Romans 9:33, 1 Peter 2:6. Jesus is the cornerstone.

In verse 18 the covenant is annulled. Why is it annulled? Israel can't make a covenant with the dead, the land of the dead, or anyone else, because they are already in covenant with God. God can't allow His covenant to be broken because of any other covenant. No other covenant will work because it will never be powerful enough to nullify the covenant Israel has with God. Likewise death has no power over those who are in Covenant with God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Good news.

In 19-22 we see the results of this covenant. It does the opposite of its intention. They lose all security. They are uncomfortable. They get no rest. They bring on the consequences of making covenants that interfere with their covenant with God.

In verse 21 Isaiah refers to battles where God proved His covenant loyalty. Mt. Perazim is where David defeated the Philistines. 2 Samuel 5:17-21, 2 Chronicles 14:8-12 the Valley of Gibeon David defeats the Philistines a second time and Joshua defeats the Canaanites, 1 Chronicles 14:13-16, Joshua 10:7-10.

A strange work and a strange act is a decree of judgment and destruction is against the whole earth. As a result of making these covenants which go against God's covenants it brings judgments on the earth. Think of Revelation 4 and 5. The seal scrolls are that kind of judgment. Going against God's covenants always brings covenant responses.

Verses 23-29 Does this sound familiar? For those who have ears to hear, let them hear. These are prophecies and parables. They show why the coming judgment is necessary, but God is always merciful. He is always kind. He is thinking of the future of Israel and of the world. Plowing doesn't continue forever. Plowing hurts. It tears up. But after the plowing the field is ready for planting. Threshing is different for different kinds of seeds. Threshing like plowing has to be done, but it doesn't last forever. It is necessary for planting. It comes from God and there is another reference to mighty God and wonderful counselor here again.

#faith #communityengagement

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