A Study in the Word – Isaiah 31:1-9

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The prophecy against Judah’s failure to trust Yahweh continues from chapter 30.  In various ways and circumstances, Isaiah keeps asking, “Whom do you trust?”  The woe upon Judah is repeated because she sought time after time to repeat the folly of seeking her salvation in Egypt.  Such action reveals the fact that they do not recognize the greatness of God.  In effect, Judah denies that He is “high and exalted,” so they do not seek anything from Him.  In their eyes Yahweh not only does not stand paramount over all the earth, He is at most just another deity in Israel (31:1). 

As a counter to that way of thinking, wisdom in the Bible is the combination of knowledge and skill to accomplish a divine task.  In the context of Isaiah, God’s wisdom will be put to the task of judgment “against the house of evildoers And against the help of the workers of iniquity” (31:2).  Israel’s corrupt wisdom leads them away from the Lord to seek help from the supposedly successful and powerful.  “Those who thought they were wiser than God (5:21) are about to learn otherwise.”   Isaiah affirms that God as spirit is far beyond the measure of human and earthly power.  What men and horses cannot do in their collective strength, the Lord does merely with His “hand” (31:3).  He will strike the helper and the helped who do not believe in Him, and bring them to the same end (31:3b).  He fears no one, as pictured in an unperturbed lion facing shepherds whose only deterrent is a loud voice (31:4), or He is pictured as a mother bird that fiercely protects her nest (31:5).

Idolatry has taken apostasy to a new low (31:6), but the Lord will cleanse them of idolatry (31:7).  Assyria’s aggression against Judah is condemned.  The “sword not of man” will create fear and panic among Assyria’s army.  The fire that purifies Israel will be the fire that destroys her enemies (31:8-9).  Isaiah 37:36-38 records the fulfillment of this prophecy.  “That day” for Israel’s Northern Kingdom came in 722 B.C. when the Assyrians crushed the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  For Assyria “that day” came in 701 B.C. when Sennacherib returned in defeat to Assyria.  These two judgments are warnings to Judah, for “that day” will come for unrepentant Judah, which it did in 586 B.C. at the hands of the Babylonians.

Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University.  Email: dm5867se@outlook.com

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