Isaiah 30 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
I. E. Five 'Woes' upon unbelievers, 28:1-33:24
3. Woe to the Obstinate Children of Israel...
1. Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me;
and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:
2 That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth;
to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame,
and the trust in the shadow of Egypt [your] confusion.
4 For his princes were at Zoan, and his ambassadors came to Hanes.
5 They were all ashamed of a people [that] could not profit them, nor be an help nor profit,
but a shame, and also a reproach.
Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD... that... add sin to sin.-
Two aspects of their rebellion are noted:
  1. that take counsel, but not of me...-
    They had neither sought guidance from the LORD,
    nor did they receive it when He sent His Word to them. cp. Num 27:21; Isa 29:11-14
  2. that cover with a covering {or, that pour out a libation}, but not of my spirit...-
    The line can be read in two ways.
    • The first reading shows the purpose of their covenant with Egypt, to obtain protection {a covering} from their enemies.
    • The second reading pertains to the ceremony by which the ambassadors of the two nations would seal the covenant between them.
    It was sin for Israel to ignore God's Word. It was further sin for them to make a covenant with another nation (Ex 23:32).
Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame...-
Threatened by Assyria, the northern kingdom of Israel sent ambassadors to Egypt to secure their help against a mutual enemy (2Kin 17:4-6). The southern kingdom (Judah) did the same (2Kin 18:21), and repeated the error a hundred years later, when threatened by Babylon (2Kin 24:6,7). In each case, the ambassadors safely traveled to major Egyptian cities, where they accomplished their mission. But their confidence in Egypt's king and princes would be disappointed. Psa 118:8,9
6 The burden of the beasts of the south:
into the land of trouble and anguish,
from whence [come] the young and old lion,
the viper and fiery flying serpent,
they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses,
and their treasures upon the bunches
{ie., humps} of camels,
to a people [that] shall not profit [them].
7 For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose:
therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength [is] to sit still.
the burden of the beasts of the south: into a land of trouble and anguish...
This 'burden' is a prophecy concerning the beast-like nation to which Israel had turned for help.
     In the past, Egypt had been 'a land of trouble and anguish' for Israel. But the LORD had delivered His people out of bondage, and brought them through the wilderness into their own land (Deu 4:20; 8:15,16). But even in the promised land, Egypt had troubled Israel, preying upon them like a lion (Eze 32:2).
they will carry their riches... to a people that shall not profit them.
Despite the LORD's warning, Israel would spare no effort or expense to secure a league with Egypt. The hired defenders would be paid in gold and silver, carried on the backs of pack animals. But it would all be wasted, for Egypt would be of no help to them, but rather a source of trouble. eg., Jer 37:7,8
     This futile covenant foreshadows one to be established, during the Tribulation, between Israel and the Antichrist (Dan 9:27), who will be the embodiment of "the viper and fiery flying serpent." cp. Isa 14:29
therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength [is] to sit still.-
Alternate translation: "...therefore have I named her, Arrogance, that doeth nothing." [Darby]
     The word for 'strength' or 'arrogance' {HB=rahab} is occasionally used as a disparaging name for Egypt (eg., Psa 89:10; Isa 51:9,10). Egypt boasted of her strength. Israel trusted in Egypt's strength. But Egypt's strength would fail them.
     Israel will find true strength, when they wait upon the LORD (cp. v.15).
8. Now go, write it before them in a table {ie., a tablet}, and note it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:
9 That this [is] a rebellious people, lying children,
children [that] will not hear the law of the LORD:
10 Which say to the seers, See not;
and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things,
speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:
11 Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path,
cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
write it before them... that it may be for the time to come {lit., for the latter day}...-
Isaiah was to make a written record of their obstinance, as an enduring witness against the Israelite nation of his day... but also, as an enduring instruction against unbelief, for the people of Israel, in the future Tribulation period (Deu 4:30,31; Hos 3:4,5).
that this is a rebellious people...-
The words of v.10,11 may not have been spoken aloud by the people, but God revealed and recorded the thoughts and intents of their hearts. Such thoughts are not unique to them, or to their time. cp. 2Tim 4:3,4
12 Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel,
Because ye despise this word,
and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay
{ie., rest} thereon:
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall,
whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.
14 And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel
that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare:
so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it
a sherd
{ie., potsherd} to take fire from the hearth,
or to take water [withal] out of the pit.
because ye despise this word... trust in oppression {or, 'extortion'} and perverseness...
Israel, as a nation, was refusing the Word of their Holy God, and placing their confidence in wicked and deceitful men.
this iniquity... as a breach ready to fall...-
ie., Their league with Egypt, which was contrary to God's counsel, would fail, just as surely and suddenly as a retaining wall will fall, once it has begun to crack and bulge. The bulge indicates that: the wall cannot withstand the pressure behind it, and could collapse at any moment.
he {ie., the Lord} shall break it...-
The Lord would ensure, not only that their league would be broken and of no benefit, but also that the nation would be broken because of their misplaced confidence. He would break it so completely that no useful fragment would remain. cp. Jer 19:10-13 (re: Tophet, see note below at v.33)
15 For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel;
In returning and rest shall ye be saved;
in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength:
and ye would not.
16 But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee:
and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
17 One thousand [shall flee] at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee:
till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
in returning and rest shall ye be saved...-
ie., If they would turn back from their league with Egypt to rest upon the LORD, they would find the salvation they sought. Since salvation is found in the LORD alone, the seeker will not find it, until he forsakes all other saviors.
     The LORD Himself is the strength of His people. But until they rest their full confidence in Him, they will not know His strength and peace (cp. Isa 26:3,4; 28:12; Ex 14:13,14; Psa 46:10).
     This was the essence of the LORD's Covenant with Abraham (Rom 4:3; cp. Isa 29:22-24; Luk 1:54,55). This was the LORD's continual message to Israel, through Isaiah and other prophets, but they refused to hear it.
but ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses... ride upon the swift...-
Refusing to wait confidently for the LORD's deliverance, they were determined to deliver themselves by whatever means was available. Therefore, there would be no deliverance.
one thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one...-
The LORD had promised that if Israel would walk with Him, their enemies would flee before them (Lev 26:8; Josh 23:10). However, under His judgment for sin and unbelief, Israel would be easily routed (cp. Deu 32:30).
till ye be left as a beacon {a pole} upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.-
The picture is of a displaced person, solitary and isolated, yet prominent by his rarity, because the land has been depopulated.
18. And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you,
and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you:
for the LORD [is] a God of judgment: blessed [are] all they that wait for him.
19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more:
he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry;
when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.
20 And [though] the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction,
yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more,
but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
{cp. Jer 3:15}
21 And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying,
This [is] the way, walk ye in it,
when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.
22 Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver,
and the ornament of thy molten images of gold:
thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth;
thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence.
23 Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal;
and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous:
in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
24 The oxen likewise and the young asses that ear the ground shall eat
clean provender, which hath been winnowed with the shovel and with the fan.
25 And there shall be upon every high mountain,
and upon every high hill, rivers [and] streams of waters
in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun,
and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days,
in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people,
and healeth the stroke of their wound.
and therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you...-
Following God's condemnation of their sin, and His warnings of the consequences, we would expect the just out pouring of His wrath. But instead, we glimpse His patience and grace.
"He allows iniquity to come to a head, and shuts up all under sin, in order that He may have mercy upon all. (Rom 11:32)
     "To those that wait for Him (v.18) He gives the promise of verse 19, and, in verse 20, engages to provide bread and water during the days of adversity and affliction; He will also manifest to them the Supreme Teacher (Joel 2:28), ie., the Holy Spirit, Who will guide them into all truth, telling them when to turn to the right and when to the left; and, being the Holy Spirit, His teaching will cleanse them from all idolatry (v.22). Outward prosperity shall also be enjoyed, for the harvest shall be plentiful (v.23); the beasts of burden shall eat savoury provender [winnowed grain, normally reserved for human consumption] (v.24); the barren mountains will be clothed with verdure (v.25); and all nature resplendent with glory (v.26).
     "This exhibition of amazing grace will synchronize with an exhibition of appalling judgment (v.25)." [This judgment will come in the day 'when the towers fall.' This phrase refers to God's judgment upon all that elevates itself against Him. The first two occurrences of this word for 'tower' refer to the tower of Babel (Gen 11:4,5). This prophecy will find ultimate fulfillment at the fall of Babylon the Great, at the close of the Tribulation period.]
[In quotes from GWms; Text in brackets supplied by editor.]
The following verses describe the day of Christ's coming in power and great glory,
to take vengeance upon all who are in rebellion against God (v.28), and to give rest to all who rest in Him (v.29). cp. 2The 1:4-10
27. Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far,
burning [with] his anger, and the burden [thereof is] heavy:
his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream,
shall reach to the midst of the neck,
to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity
{ie., desolation, ruin}:
and [there shall be] a bridle in the jaws of the people,
causing [them] to err.
{eg., Eze 38:3-9}
29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night [when] a holy solemnity is kept;
and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe
{ie., flute}
to come into the mountain of the LORD,
to the mighty One
{lit., the Rock} of Israel.
30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard,
and shall shew the lighting down of his arm,
{eg., Isa 51:9; Psa 98:1; Luk 1:51}
with the indignation of [his] anger,
and [with] the flame of a devouring fire,
[with] scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
31 For through the voice of the LORD
shall the Assyrian be beaten down, [which] smote with a rod.
32 And [in] every place where the grounded staff
{ie., appointed rod} shall pass,
which the LORD shall lay upon him,
[it] shall be with tabrets
{ie., timbrels, tambourines} and harps:
and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
33 For Tophet [is] ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared;
he hath made [it] deep [and] large: the pile thereof [is] fire and much wood;
the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down.-
This will be fulfilled, in the Day of the LORD, when the nations are gathered to the final battle at Armageddon. Joel 2:11; 3:9-16
     The voice which unbelievers refused to hear, and from which they turned away (v.2,9-12), defends His people and defeats their foes with His Word. cp. Psa 46:6-7,10-11; Rev 1:15,16; 19:15
     'The Assyrian' represents the Antichrist, the smiter of God's people (as we saw in Isa 10:24-27 and 14:24-27). Each stroke of the LORD's rod against him will cause God's people to rejoice, even as the nations of the world tremble.
For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared.-
'The king' is the Assyrian, the Satan empowered Antichrist. cp. Isa 14:9-20; Dan 11:36; 2The 2:8,9; Rev 13:1-4
     Tophet {meaning: "place of fire"}, the place of hideous idolatrous sacrifices in the valley of the son of Hinnom {Gehenna} south of Jerusalem, is representative of the Lake of Fire, into which Satan, the Antichrist and his false prophet will be cast, for it is prepared for them. Jer 7:31,32; Mat 25:41; Rev 19:19-21; 20:10

Click here to continue the study in Isaiah 31
Return to Isaiah - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from

Go to The Book opening page.