“Woe” introduces various subjects in chapters 28-33. The Hebrew can be translated “alas,” “Destruction is certain” (NLT), or “You are doomed!” (GNB). The first woe concerns listening to God or not. The actual recipient is Jerusalem (28:14). A crown is a symbol of greatness, but theirs is a shabby symbol of drunkenness (28:1). The Lord will send against her an “agent” human in form but divine in power (28:2). This agent is “cast down” from heaven to cast down the crown of pride (28:3-4).
The faithful remnant also wear a crown - the Lord Himself (28:5). His justice and strength contrast rebellion and pride (28:6). The majority, however, continue debasing themselves (28:7-8). In a mocking sense, they satirize the words of Isaiah. Paraphrasing 28:9-10: “God’s words are for infants, not us!”
A language lesson is in order (28:11). God had promised rest, “but they would not listen” (28:12). What Israel supposed was “baby talk” is nothing less than Assyria’s order of battle against them! The armies of Assyria will come in their best military precision (“order on order”) and thorough preparation (“line on line”) to attack and overwhelm. What Israel takes as a word game for babies is actually a warning of Israel’s destruction (28:13).
Actually, this prophecy is for Jerusalem (28:14). Ephraim had scoffed and met doom. Judah must not follow that pattern, especially its leadership. When Judah believed “Death cannot touch us,” it only showed they believed a lie (28:15). Faith in God is the sole condition for delivering Judah from harm (28:16; 1 Peter 2:6).
God will use justice and righteousness to affirm His Word (28:17). His judgment will override Judah’s covenant with death (28:18-19). Discomfort will be the least of Judah’s problems (28:20). As nature brought judgment in the past, He will strike Judah in the same manner to accomplish the return of Judah to Him (28:21). Judah must turn from scoffing and heed this message (28:22).
Isaiah then relates a parable of a farmer who follows God’s instructions for good farming. If the rebellious leaders of Judah refuse to listen to God, at least this lowly farmer listens (28:23). He knows when to plow and when to stop plowing (28:24). He knows that different crops require different preparation and different methods of planting and harvesting (28:25, 27-28). He knows this because he listens (28:26 and 29). Woe upon those who will not listen (28:1).
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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