Chapter 28 of Isaiah the prophet begins a series of “Woe” against Israel and Judah, Jerusalem; and within these woes are also promises, encouragements to lead them back to YaHWeH the Eternal, Self-Sufficient One who called them to Himself.
The Northern kingdom called Ephraim in our text was prideful and fell. The “Woe” is warning Judah of her fall should she fail to repent and turn again to the LORD. The problem with Judah was they were putting more faith in the power of politics, and the politicians of their day than in the LORD, thus were failing to heed God’s leadership. Just as Israel’s pride brought them down so too would the pride of Judah bring them down; like the beauty of the fading flower.
“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand. The crown of pride, the drunkards of Ephraim, shall be trodden under feet: and the glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fat valley, shall be a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer; which when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand he eateth it up. In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” Isaiah 28:1-6 (KJV)
Ephraim had a problem with parties, drinking inebriating drinks, and their leaders all conspiring to do the same. Their judges, priests and others; along with their prophets in drunkenness (v. 7); making rule and law in their soberless state of mind. Is it much different in today’s USA? Not at all. Warren Wiersbe quotes a U.S. government official in his book on Isaiah “Be Comforted” as having said,
“We have three parties in this city [Washington D. C.]: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the cocktail party.”
I don’t doubt that to be true. I wonder how many of our leaders go into their Congressional sessions, Senate sessions, and even investigations under the influence of alcohol? Is it any wonder that our nation is in the bankrupt condition it is in. The beauty of the United States and her glory is quickly fading and will continue until the Lord Jesus returns or their is revival in the land.
In verse sixteen we read,
“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.”
When God’s people are resting upon the LORD, trusting in Him there will be no need to fear or flee from what is coming into the world, or a nation. Our hope, our only hope is in the LORD. It is not in returning to new tax structures, political ideologies, or even only to making right laws. We need to return to the fear of the LORD, and set our hearts on Him alone.
The LORD has said, “I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation…” and that is not just an Old Testament thought, but one of Paul the apostle’s writings as well (Romans 9:33). That Stone was rejected, tried, beaten, mocked, and finally hung on a brutal cross where He bled and died for the sins of the world.
In verse 21 God says He will do a “strange work”.
“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.”
Just what is this “Strange work”, “Strange act”? It appears to be that God will allow His people’s own sin to be their judgment. Even the prophet Jeremiah says,
“Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…” Jeremiah 2:19a
Maybe like your mother letting you gorge yourself on that jar full of cookies, after telling you two or three times, “Only one!”, and then you end up feeling deathly ill, throwing up, and in bed the rest of the day. Moses said, “Be sure your sins will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
One thing we can be assured of, and that is that God does His work; His strange work, His strange act in the order it should be in. That is the prophet’s message in verses 23 – 29;
“Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. 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. 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 uses the illustration of the farmer plowing and sowing seeds. It is done in an orderly manner. The ground is plowed and prepared then each type of seed is sown according to its own fashion. The fitches and cummin [seeds for condiment purposes] are scattered or broadcasted around on the ground. Wheat and barley are sown in rows. They are all threshed in different fashion as well. Some of the harvest grains are threshed by beating, some are rolled with a crushing wheel. I hope you see the picture.
God’s judgment will not always be the same for everyone. It will, however, come due, and there will be judgment according to God’s own grace and mercy. Remember that the judgment we are talking about is not on the world, but upon God’s own people. Peter the apostle wrote,
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17 (KJV)
Isaiah’s warning Israel and Judah is also a warning to those who are Christians. Get right with God, and be right with God always. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love Him.
-Tim A. Blankenship