Isaiah 23–28: Judgments & Wisdom

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 5: Friday

Today’s Bible reading of Isaiah 23–28, encompasses several sections of the book. Chapter 23 is the oracle concerning Tyre. It finishes the prophecies of God’s judgment of nations that began in chapter 13.1 The next four chapters, 24–27, are “often loosely known as the ‘Isaiah Apocalypse’,” and tells of God’s judgment of the world and His deliverance of His people.2 Kidner labels chapter 28–31, “The Assyrian Crisis: God’s Help or Man’s?” and writes:

“The setting is the restless period of intrigue with Egypt which led to Hezekiah’s revolt against Assyria and the reprisals of 701 BC described in chs. 36, 37; but the prophecies frequently break out of these narrow confines.”3

Throughout these chapters there is contrast of character and conduct of the wicked and the righteous. We also see the contrast of two realities: the present and the future—the circumstances of today and the circumstances that will come, “in that day,” as we learn of the consequences for the ruthless and the consequences for the needy.

As you read you may find passages that you recognize, such as Isaiah 28:16, a prophecy of the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. I want to quote, however, the final verses of chapter 28, in which Isaiah tells the story of a farmer:

“Give ear and hear my voice,
Listen and hear my words.
Does the farmer plow continually to plant seed?
Does he continually turn and harrow the ground?
Does he not level its surface
And sow dill and scatter cummin
And plant wheat in rows,
Barley in its place and rye within its area?
For his God instructs and teaches him properly.
For dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
Nor is the cartwheel driven over cummin;
But dill is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a club.
Grain for bread is crushed,
Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever.
Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it,
He does not thresh it longer.
This also comes from the LORD of hosts,
Who has made His counsel wonderful and His wisdom great.”
Isaiah 28:23–29 (ESV)

Derek Kidner explains:

“The farmer’s constant changes and his varieties of treatment, so capricious at first sight yet so expertly appropriate, give the clue to the complex ways of God, who is his teacher (vv. 26, 29). God’s strangest work (cf. v. 21) is exactly suited, it is implied, to the varied times (v. 24), types (v. 25) and textures (vv. 27, 28) that He handles.”4

God’s ways are too complex for us, but God is gracious and provides for us in this story of the farmer an example to help us understand that His counsel is wonderful and His wisdom is great.

_________
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2, 3, 4Derek Kidner, “Isaiah,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds.,
A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., pp. 599, 604, 606, 606.
ESV: English Standard Version

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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