CLICK HERE for Isaiah 30.
This chapter is actually part two of Isaiah 28. That chapter talked about secret combinations and the oppression of holy people. The Lord warns those with political power to heed His counsel, and promises that He will give counsel, but also warns of the justice that will come for those who do not seek mercy, and how He will keep His promises to the oppressed and to those who repent and turn to Him (verse 1).
The Lord begins confronting the political leaders by exposing their secret plans. The prophet tells the people what the leaders have been doing without them knowing, bringing it all out into the open. The Lord says he knows the leaders have gone – without permission from Him and without seeking His counsel (“not asked at my mouth”) – to make alliances with Egypt and gain power for themselves, instead of doing what He has told them would protect the people (verse 2).
The political leaders were not fools. They knew that the Assyrians were regrouping after the death of their king (Sargon), and they were trying to make alliances to seek military support before the new king, Sennacherib, took over. That makes sense. It’s logical. But they did not pray and ask the Lord about it, and so have only very limited information with very limited insight. There are variables they don’t know because they didn’t ask, and the Lord tells them it will be an embarrassment and shame them in front of everyone (verse 3).
Their entire strategy was based on the Egyptian princes (who were actually Ethiopian under this dynasty) with bases in Zoan (Tunis) and Hanes (Anusis) (verse 4). The leaders thought that these princes would stand firm with them against the Assyrians, and send military backup to help them fight against the shared enemy. Everything they planned was based on this assumption, and it was an assumption about which they had not asked the Lord – who knows far more than they could know on their own.
And it was a false assumption.
If they had asked the Lord, He could have warned them it was a bad idea and given them better counsel and more information than what they knew.
But they did not, and so they lost (verse 5). When Judah sent their riches to bribe Egypt into an alliance, Egypt took what they sent. It was a great cost to Judah. But when the Assyrians attacked, Egypt though Judah was too small to worry about and only defended themselves (verse 6). The Egyptians did not back them up or defend them at all, much less offer any help – and so the wealth of Judah was lost.
Isaiah says they should have done what the Lord said, which was to “sit still” and not be afraid (verse 7). Assyria would not have attacked them if Judah had not provoked them. But instead of doing what the Lord told them, Judah did provoke them – both by refusing to pay taxes, and by making an alliance with one of Assyria’s enemies. Judah was in no danger from Assyria until then.
The Lord wanted to remind the people that He had warned them of this, and so told Isaiah to record his prophecies as a written document for others to read later (verse 8). This is why we have the book of Isaiah today, as evidence to us that the Lord will deliver us if we repent and turn to Him and do the things He asks us to do. He knows what we do not, and has variables we cannot see, and understands what we do not even yet know.
If we trust Him, and act in faith as He directs us, He will lead us to safety – no matter what the situation is.
But when we are a “rebellious people”, being afraid and reacting impulsively, we will not hear the counsel He has for us (verse 9). He cannot lead us to safety if we will not do what He says and go where He says to go.
The people in Isaiah’s day did not like what he had to say. They wanted him to prophesy only what they wanted to hear, to teach them easy things instead of the hard truth, and to lie to them to make them feel better (verse 10). The political leaders tell the prophets (Isaiah and others of his day) to get out of the way so that they can do what they want, and to stop talking about God because it stirs up the people (verse 11).
That is not so much different from our day.
God says that because of this, and because of their secret combinations, and because of their oppression of the people and perversion of His law (verse 12), they will receive the consequences of what they have chosen. Their rejection of the prophets, and so their rejection of the Lord who promised to fight their battles, means that they are choosing to fight their battles on their own. This is the greatest crack in their defense, and their destruction will come quickly and suddenly and thoroughly (verse 13). There will be nothing left, like a clay pot that is dropped and shatters and so is of no use to anyone (verse 14).
Only in returning to the Lord, and letting Him fight their battles, can they be delivered from this mess they have created (verse 15):
and in confidence
shall be your strength.
Instead of contention and starting wars by reacting impulsively, we can live at peace when we are confident that the Lord’s laws and the direction of His Spirit will lead us to safety. This is how we are delivered. This is how we are redeemed. This is how we live at-one with each other.
But the people would not. They ran away from the Lord, and trusted in military power (verse 16). But because they do not have the peace and confidence in the Lord, and know they have to fight their own battles (and so also know they will lose), the people will panic. One enemy soldier will scare off a thousand people, and the leaders will not be able to lead until they humble themselves and return to the Lord (verse 17).
The prophet tells the people that the Lord will wait for this time, so that by His grace He can still deliver the people. He is waiting on us, wanting us to find mercy. He does not want us living in misery and fear or in great distress. He wants to bless us, and give us lives of peace and joy (verse 18). When the people return to Him, He will answer their prayers and counsel with them and teach them what to do (verse 19). These hard times and consequences of our own bad choices are meant only to teach us how to rely on him (verse 20-21):
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity,
and the water of affliction…
thine eyes shall see thy teachers,
and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying,
“This is the way, walk ye in it…”
But we cannot hear His voice whispering to us until we silence out all that is not-of-God and all that distracts us from Him (verse 22). We must do the work (personal scripture study, sincere prayers, obedience, service to others, and temple worship) to nourish and strengthen the ability to hear His voice and prosper by doing what it says (verse 23). Isaiah says that if we will do this, we will prosper even temporally, so that there is enough to provide for ourselves and the kingdom of God (verse 24).
Then Isaiah gets serious about it. He implies an “in that day”, meaning the latter days of the Latter-days, and says that the day of judgment will come when there is great prosperity (verse 25). There begins to be a poetic comparison, and in this style all things are both literal and spiritual.
Verse 25, in a literal way, as being that it was during the phase of this dispensation when temple building burst forth on the scene internationally (Hinckley period) that the world trade centers fell, and that this affected the world enough to be a final warning and announcement that the end times are really that close.
Spiritual implications of verse 25 point to the law of opposition, that in these last days, as light and truth spread throughout the world, the shadow is cast upon sin and iniquity and the darkness of the world grows in greater contrast to the increasing light.
Isaiah says that the moon will brighten as the sun, and the sun’s light will increase. These may very well be literal changes as the earth returns to its original placement in the heavens. But there are also the spiritual references to this increasing light (and its increasing contrast to the darkness of the world) in the previous verse. The darker the world becomes, the greater light appears to be (and vice versa). The world is becoming more and more polarized with spirituality, so much that even what was shared cultural/societal truth (standards) in the past now is reserved only for those serious about their spiritual development. Because of this, so many will accept the very minimum of good as being very good, that it will really take great effort to live a higher celestial law (because basic goodness will be so much better than the wickedness of the world).
In past generations, our culture and society blended well with principles of faith and spirituality. It was normal that it did not stand out (the moon). But now in our day, even simple principles of faith and practices of spirituality stand out (like the sun). So those living a celestial law, far beyond simple principles and with great sacrifice, really stand out so bright that it is painful for others to look or notice or learn (like a sun shining sevenfold), and so they will hide, persecute, oppress and try to dim it down (like putting on sunglasses).
Because the darkness will be so dark, the Lord’s response will seem to burn them. This celestial experience will burn them, worse than a sunburn, worse than yanking off the sunglasses. It will be a physical and spiritual burning, the words of His prophets (ancient and modern) testifying against them (because all will have received it and had the choice to respond or not) (verse 27). It will overwhelm them, like a flood that nearly drowns, with people so in shock they say what has been in their hearts (rejecting His words) instead of even trying to cover up with feigned repentance (verse 28).
But those who have chosen Him, the shiny ones living celestial law, these people of holiness will rejoice that the lights have been turned on and darkness washed away (verse 29). They will go to the Temple to be with Him, and rejoice in His presence (verse 29). They will witness Him keeping His promises, even hearing the final judgments against those who have rejected Him (verse 30). Enemies will be conquered, even as Assyria was conquered after the days of Isaiah (verse 31), and all those who have been persecuted and oppressed will be set free. There will be a great jubilee, a celebration of freedom and redemption and being released from bondage (verse 32).
The headquarters of secret combinations (“Tophet”, תופת) will finally be destroyed, and the adversary will be bound by our righteousness (which comes by His atonement) (verse 33). Most believe that Tophet is Jerusalem, again in poetic contrast to when Jerusalem is called Zion referring the righteous. This would be a reference to south of Jerusalem, where the Canaanites sacrificed children to Molech by burning perpetual fires that they kept going. The Lord’s “fire” – literal and figurative – will be greater than these fires, and His sacrifice was greater than theirs.
His sacrifice is the ultimate sacrifice,
and His fire does purge from us all that is not-of-God
so that we can become pure and holy
as He is pure and holy.
We will be His people of holiness,
and He will be our King.