The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Isaiah 28

Isa 28:1

Isa 28: One of 6 "woes", directed against Jerusalem (Isa 28:1; 29:1,15; 30:1; 31:1; 33:1).

WREATH: Or crown -- High Priest paraphernalia.

EPHRAIM'S DRUNKARDS: The corrupt and drunken priests of the temple at Jerusalem, linked with Ephraim because of their evil way of life -- which was like the apostates of the north (Amo 6:1,6). "The leaders in Jerusalem were so delighted that their attempt to buy off Sennacherib had succeeded (when actually it had failed most abysmally) that they gave themselves over to an unexampled drunken spree. Note esp v 15 and... Isa 22:1,2,12,13" (WIsa 284). (That this ch is about Judah/Jerusalem and not Israel/Samaria becomes evident later in the ch.)

GLORIOUS BEAUTY: Ref the splendid accoutrements of the priests (Exo 28:2).

Isa 28:2

Isa 28:2.

FLOODING DOWNPOUR: The irresistible Assyrian invasion (cp Isa 8:7,8; 10:22; 17:12).

Isa 28:3

There is a crown of pride (Isa 28:3), which no one should wear. A crown of thorns (Mat 27:29), which no one can wear. And a crown of life (Jam 1:12), which everyone may wear. Also, an incorruptible crown (1Co 9:25), a crown of rejoicing (1Th 2:19), a crown of glory (1Pe 5:4), and a crown to be kept until Christ's coming (Rev 3:11).

Isa 28:5

A worthy king (Hezekiah) and a worthy High Priest (Eliakim) will have replaced their corrupt predecessors.

THE REMNANT OF HIS PEOPLE: The relatively small section of the nation who remained faithful to their king and their God (Isa 4:2,4; 11:11,16; 37:4).

Isa 28:6

A SPIRIT OF JUSTICE...: The righteous king Hezekiah's "spirit of justice" will be strengthened and reasserted as a result of his recovery from his deadly disease (cp Isa 11:2; 32:1).

A SOURCE OF STRENGTH TO THOSE WHO TURN BACK THE BATTLE AT THE GATE: The courage of the defenders of Jerusalem would be marvelously transformed by seeing the enemy destroyed at the very gates of the city (Isa 22:7).

Isa 28:7

Vv 7,8: "A bitter and intensely realistic picture of the ungodly sottishness of priests and prophets (but not of men like Isaiah, Joel, Micah, Habakkuk, Nahum). Micah has a similar picture painted with powerful sarcasm... Mic 2:11" (WIsa 285). Cp prohibition against priests on duty using wine or strong drink (Lev 10:1-9).

Isa 28:9

Vv 9-13: Isaiah had taught to the newcomers from the north (who had come to keep Hezekiah's special passover) simple repetitive lessons about righteousness and service to God. The educated and supercilious priests of wickedness in Jerusalem now mocked these simple instructions, repeated in a strange dialect, as so much "stammering", but the presence and words of these simple countryfolk from the north was a standing rebuke to the worldliness and drunkenness of the wicked priests. (Such an interpretation makes sense of Paul's use of this passage as prophetic of the speaking in tongues in the first century: 1Co 14:21... and the Holy Spirit-guided preaching of the simple, unlearned apostles as well: Act 4:13.) [In the same way, the preaching of the cross can seem to be foolishness: 1Co 1:18.]

Figure of mother and children in Isaiah: Isa 8:3,4; 11:8; 26:17,18; 28:9; 45:10,11; 46:3,4; 49:15,20-23; 54:1; 60:16; 66:11-13.

TO CHILDREN WEANED FROM THEIR MILK...: This phrase supports the above view of vv 9-13, ie that it is about naive, simple believers rebuking the sophisticated wickedness of the priests at Jerusalem. Peter's citation of this ch (Isa 28:16 / 1Pe 2:5,6), along with his ref to the instruction of babes (1Pe 2:2), also confirms this view.

Isa 28:15

A COVENANT WITH DEATH: Made by placating Sennacherib with a massive payment of tribute -- which would prove useless when the invasion came.

Isa 28:16

A TESTED STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE FOR A SURE FOUNDATION: "The unbudgeable rock in the Temple area where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and which later became the foundation stone of the great altar of burnt offering (cp Isa 8:13-15)... To find a place of prominence and glory for the Assyrian altar which he had brought in, Ahaz had removed Solomon's altar, but had found himself baffled by the grand solidity of its rock foundation. Now, in the more wholesome days of Hezekiah, the former arrangement of the true altar founded on the Eternal Rock had been restored. So, in the impending crisis, let men put confidence in the God whose redemption of His people was symbolized there" (WIsa 288). These vv cited in 1Pe 2:5,6.

A TESTED STONE: Or, perhaps, "a TESTING stone" (BS 10:84): This "stone" (Christ) was the means by which Israel was tested (see context 1Pe 2:6-8; Psa 118:22; Isa 8:14).

WILL NEVER BE DISMAYED: KJV has "shall not make haste", but the NIV reading is confirmed by NT citation: Rom 9:33; 10:11; 1Pe 2:6.

Isa 28:19

MORNING AFTER MORNING, BY DAY AND BY NIGHT: Continuing reports coming in of the ever-approaching Assyrian war-machine!

Isa 28:20

That is, the place of comfort you have designed for yourself will prove woefully inadequate!

Isa 28:21

HIS STRANGE WORK: "One of the strangest things God ever did, for in the first instance it will be against His own people.... (cp Isa 10;12,22,23)" (WIsa 290).

Isa 28:24

Vv 24,25: "The farmer does not go on ploughing every day. It is not a non-stop operation. He does not keep at it all the year round (Isa 57:16; Psa 103:9). Instead, the ploughing finished, he carefully levels and smooths the soil. Then comes sowing time. And according to each crop that he plans there is a different operation, some seed being sown broadcast, and some in drills and rows, some planted individually, and some as marginal catch-crop. And why does He go about things in these diverse ways?.... (answered in next vv)" (WIsa 291).

Isa 28:27

Vv 27,28: And the same diversity of operations applies to the harvest time, when each crop gets its own special treatment...

Isa 28:29

The lesson of all this is... "So also God does not always deal with the same individual (or nation) in the same way. Each man has his times when care, comfort, or encouragement are what are best for him. There are times also when hard discipline, rough tribulation and suffering are what he needs, but never wants... Even in this matter of discipline God knows better than to treat all men or nations alike. With consummate wisdom he handles each individual according to his need" (WIsa 292).

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