Contributor: Ngozi Roberts
In the previous chapter we discussed about how God detests the trusting of the arm of flesh instead of God. The Jews trusted in the Egyptians prowess which is a symbol of trusting the arm of flesh or man and God did not like it. He assured the Jews and ultimately you and I of God's care and protection. The study ended by the prophet calling all to repentance, and prophesied the destruction of those that do not trust God. Following these sequence, the prophet in the next two chapters 32 and 33 prophesies of the coming righteous king that will bring about a righteous government establishing the fact that the blessings that comes out of this righteous rule will only be experienced by the repentant children of God while the sinners will experience His judgement.
PART 1: CHAPTER 32
This chapter contains a prophecy of the Messiah which is, however applicable to Hezekiah, as a type of Christ as it only has its full accomplishment in him, and in his times. He is described as a righteous King, having Just princes ruling under him. The chapter is filled with metaphors and will require attentiveness to be able to understand these chapters. It is divided into 3 sections. The first section talks about the period of peace and happiness which will characterise the reign of the righteous king. The second section talks about the times of trouble which would be as a result of the existence of bad people and the third section reflects on the blessings that will be seen in the end.
CHAPTER 32, VERSES 1-8 - THE PERIOD OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS
The Prophet prophesies about the reign of a righteous King. This godly king is going to establish a godly government and will have many godly helpers within the society. It is evident this is about Christ our righteous King and His true disciples. Though during the time of Isaiah this king seems to reflect the local historical king – Hezekiah however, for us this ultimately talks about the messiah Jesus Christ and His kingdom. The metaphorical expressions seen in verses 2-8;
See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. 3 Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. 4 The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear
These expressions connotes that the this government will bring about stability and comfort in the society. This brings to remembrance, Psalm 47:5-9, which praises God as…the King over all the earth, who reigns with justice and equity.
Also in Isaiah 2:2-4, which foretells that the…nations will stream to Jerusalem to learn from the Lord, and that He will judge between the nations and make peace.
Similarly, in Rom 14:17 : 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
CHAPTER 32: VERSES 5-6 – FOOLS WILL NOT BE IN THE GOVERNMENT
Here again, the use of metaphorical expressions that indicates that during this righteous reign that fools will not be found in this helm of affairs. Why? Because the characteristics of fools as in verses 6-7 will not be found in this government.
"5 No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected. 6 For fools speak folly, their hearts are bent on evil: They practice ungodliness and spread error concerning the LORD; the hungry they leave empty and from the thirsty they withhold water. Scoundrels use wicked methods, they make up evil schemes to destroy the poor with lies, even when the plea of the needy is just."
So Isaiah prophesies that even in this ideal society, there is going to be rogues and bad people but however, these bad people are going to be recognised and ostracized from leadership
CHAPTER 32 VERSE 8 - CHARACTERISTICS OF NOBLE MEN IN GOVERNMENT
8 But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.
Note that the government will be constituted by noble and princely men.
CHAPTER 32 VERSE 9-14 - CONSEQUENCES OF COMPLACENCY
These verses talks about the rich people of Isaiah days. Again the use of metaphor to express and reflect on the warning to those who are relaxed in their luxury and feel secure due to their own means. The prophet sounds a note of warning that if the ones that are bad continue to provoke God then there is going to befall them a time of hardship and series of anguish that will be coming to them. In reflection for us, we are being admonished to repent and be on the alert and not to rely on our own strength. Reminds us of 1Cor. 7:29-31 where we are admonished to live as if end is at hand. It says:
29What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
CHAPTER 32 VERSE 15 -18 - THE PEACE OF GOD’S REIGN
Vs15 talks about the out pouring of the Spirit of God. This brings to mind Joel 2:28-29 that said:
“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
Also in Isaiah 44:3, For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.
So the prophets lists out the things that will be the outcome of the spirit outpouring.
The Sprit of God will pour out the power and presence of God for us to be able to act on God’s will. When the manifestation of the Spirit of God is on mankind there will be :
1. Abundance of justice,
2. Personalised life style of righteousness that will bring about -
a. peace, quietness,
3. Undisturbed resting places ; undisturbed land, home,
4. Real security and peace
Again, this brings to mind the scripture Rom. 14:17- 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
CHAPTER 32: VERSE 19-20
Note that in the middle of blessing of pouring of spirit, Isaiah also prophesies judgement (Vs. 19). which seems odd and makes me to believe judgement refers to the destruction of Assyrian (Chapter 27). So putting this into context, while the Assyrians are being punished by God, the children of God are experiencing the out pouring of the spirit of God and its benefits. However, it is also true that in situations where the children of God are, evil exists. Remember, God treats His enemies differently as we learnt in our previous lessons and they usually end up being destroyed. That is why the scripture tells us that Job 22:29 29When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
So as believers, we should always understand that it is in allowing ourselves be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit that we can experience exemption from the judgement that will befall the evil ones. He says in Romans 8: 14 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
When believers are led by the Holy Spirit , they shall live in fertility, in so much abundance that no matter the poverty that grips the world around them, they shall not be affected.
PART 2: CHAPTER 33
In this chapter, Isaiah gives an account of God's judgments upon the enemies of his people, and of the peaceable, comfortable, and happy state of the church in the latter day. This chapter is divided in two sections. The first section refers to Gods judgment on His enemies while the second section refers to the happiness to be experienced as a result of the glorious reign of the Messiah.
CHAPTER 33 VERSES 1-14 - A PRAYER IN DEEP DISTRESS
In verse 1 the prophets reminds us of the Assyria who were a tool in the hand of God to punish the children of Israel in other to bring them back to repentance. These Assyrians did not go unpunished. They still had to experience the wrath of Gods anger. God still held them responsible for their godless action so they have to pay the price. The lesson here is that we as children of God will always be held responsible for any of our actions, even though God already knows from the beginning. If we do evil, without repentance, we will reap whatever we sow. Remember the story of Judas, though it has been prophesied that someone will betray Jesus, Judas stepped into the prophesy and without repentance he was destroyed. He was held responsible for his betrayal action. Same also was Pharoah, he was held responsible for his action when he was destroyed in the Nile pursuing the children of Israel. The righteous ruler often pays the sinner in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God shall find Him gracious to them.
In Vs. 2, Isaiah both prays and prophecy. He becomes emotional as he calls on God to have mercy. “LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. This reminds me of the Lord prayer where in Matthew 6:11 it say 11Give us this day our daily bread. Praying for the help of God for daily living. And true to the word, there is no way we can live the Christian life without trusting in Him to lead us daily. God wants us to trust him daily for our daily need. Day by day walk in fellowship with Him. This will bring about our genuine stability and security.
In Vs 3- 6 – The prophets takes us into a peep of his life and experience in God. He leads us to understand who God is. The fear of the Lord is the key to his treasure. When we live in the fear of the Lord we will experience Gods wisdom, salvation and knowledge. The greatest treasure is knowing God and it is a great blessing.
Vs 7 – 9 highlights to us the distress that Jerusalem was brought into.
The prophet reflects on what really happened to the negotiations between the representatives of Israel and Assyrians. The break down on the negotiations brought about the men crying and mourning on the streets of Jerusalem. Why? Because the treaty they had with Assyria had broken down. Everyone is afraid and runs into hiding. This is described in 2Kings 18:13-16. Even though Hezekiah gave the king of Assyrians a lot of treasure to stay away yet he came back anyways to fight.
CHAPTER 33 VERSES 10 – 15 - IMPENDING JUDGMENT ON ZION
It’s interesting to know that it is when all other helpers fail, that is the time for God to appear in our lives. Psalm 60:11 says 11 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
The Prophet prophesies about the help of God. As God arises to help His people , the children God praise, and exalts Him on high.
The Prophet kind of blows the trumpet of God, letting those who have heard of what God has done to acknowledge that God can do all things. He also reiterates that those sinners that are still living in Jerusalem and outside will experience the wrath of God as He delivers His true children. Reminding us of Hebrew 12:29 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
Also, Deuteronomy 2:24 tells us same. God’s wrath will burn those who make themselves fuel for it. So, He warns the jews that are far away and near to watch what God was going to do. When God arises, his enemies scatters!
Isaiah reflects on the characteristics of the people in this new day of righteousness. They reflect the character of God himself. In the Old Testament the goal of righteousness was to be like God. The word righteous connotes straightening - measuring reed and describes God himself. God’s characteristics manifested in humanity and in the New Testament is Christ. These characteristics of God’s righteous people are best explained in Psalm 15:
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
And psalm 24-3-6 also stipulates same as God’s righteous people characteristics.
CHAPTER 33, VERSES 17-24 - THE LAND OF THE MAJESTIC KING
From verse 17, the prophet makes reference to the righteous King that we talked about in verse 32. It is during the reign of this miraculous child and king that the children of God will start wondering why they revolted against God in the first place. They note that there is no longer the terror they used to experience. No more task masters. No more strangers with foreign language (Chapter 28:11- indicating that the Assyrians language was foreign to them). They will then appreciate the new government and the new land. Zion the city of Gods dwelling place. A land of peace with stability and no chaos. This is because the Lord God almighty will be the ruler. A land without sickness and there will be so much abundance that none will lack and none will be harmed.
As believers we are reminded to remember the conditional response from God. We should understand that our hope, our Jerusalem will not be destroyed if we as believers follow God and love Him and walk in His ways. He will keep us in Zion, our abode from all harm if we live righteously, however, if we don’t by living unrighteous, He will take His presence from us and we will fall. Note that all of man’s relationship with God is based on unconditional promise followed by man’s individual response which is conditional.
As true believers, we should watch out for all occasion to sin and avoid it. By faith we take Christ as our King and Saviour. Most importantly is that He will be our King in heaven where there will be no sickness or trouble, all our transgressions blotted out and souls healed.
Zephaniah 3:15 says The LORD has taken away your punishment; He has turned back your enemy. Israel's King, the LORD, is among you; no longer will you fear any harm
Job 36:11-12 says 11 If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity, And their years in pleasures. 12 But if they do not obey, They shall perish by the sword, And they shall die [e]without knowledge.
Also, Matthew 24: 13 encourages us :13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Ultimately, we are all encouraged and admonished to endure to the end. As long as we trust in God and not man, He will bring us home safely. God is saying to you and I to trust Him and He will forgive us and bring us home to an everlasting life.
Parts of this study was culled from : Matthew Henry – Commentary on the whole Bible