Isaiah 31 - Outline of Isaiah (MENU page)
I. E. Five 'Woes' upon unbelievers, 28:1-33:24
4. Woe to the Obstinate Children of Israel...
1. Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help;
and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because [they are] many;
and in horsemen, because they are very strong;
but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
2 Yet he also [is] wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words:
but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
3 Now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.
When the LORD shall stretch out his hand,
both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down,
and they all shall fail together.
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help...-
Jerusalem had sought Egypt's help (30:1-7), according to human wisdom and logic. Israel had few horses and chariots to counter the well equipped military of Assyria. However, Egypt's military was well suited to engage the northern enemy. Israel was leaning upon Egypt, and putting their confidence in their military might.
but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel...- cp. Isa 30:15; Jer 2:13; 17:5; Psa 20:7
now the Egyptians [are] men, and not God...-
In contrast to the LORD, whose Word is sure, and whose promised judgment of evildoers will not fail, Egypt will go back on their covenant, and they, being men, cannot stand when God opposes them. Therefore, both Egypt (the helper) and Israel (whom they are supposed to help) will fall together.
4 For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me,
Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey,
when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him,
[he] will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them:
so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
5 As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem;
defending also he will deliver [it;
and] passing over he will preserve it.
so shall the LORD of hosts... fight for mount Zion...-
The true defender of Jerusalem reveals Himself as:
  • the LORD of hosts {ie., armies}...-
    The Captain of Heaven's armies will neither be routed nor thwarted from his objective
    by the combined forces of the armies of all mankind. cp. Josh 5:13-15; Rev 19:11-16
  • like as the lion...- ie., The LORD, in His superior strength, is ferocious against His enemies.
    Isa 12:6; 37:35,36; 42:13; 63:1; Hos 11:10; Rev 5:5
  • as birds flying {ie., hovering}...
    • ...defending He will deliver it...-
      ie., The LORD overshadows His own, with loving and possessive protection (cp. Zeph 3:17).
    • ...passing over he will preserve it {deliver it; cause it to escape}.
      The phrase 'passing over' is translated 'pass through,' in Ex 12:12,23. On the occasion of the first Passover, the LORD 'passed through' to destroy the Egyptian firstborn, even as He 'passed over' to preserve His people, Israel.
Having such a Defender, why does Israel now turn to Egypt for help?
6. Turn ye unto [him from] whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.
7 For in that day every man shall cast away his idols of silver, and his idols of gold,
which your own hands have made unto you [for] a sin.
8 Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man;
and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him:
but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.
9 And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear,
and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign,
saith the LORD, whose fire [is] in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.
turn ye unto Him from whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted {defected, apostasized}...-
Once again, Isaiah calls the rebellious people back to the Lord, who loves them and who is able to deliver them. Though they would continue to shut out his message (cp. Isa 30:8-10), "in that day" (ie., the future Tribulation) Israel will repent and cast themselves upon Him.
then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man...-
"Then" corresponds to "in that day." The defeat of Sennacherib's army, apart from any human action, weapons or power (Isa 37:36-38), would provide a preview of the fall of the antichrist who also will be "broken without hand" (Dan 8:25; cp. Zech 4:6,7).
he {ie., the Assyrian}... and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign...- cp. Isa 11:10; 18:3
whose fire is in Zion... his furnace in Jerusalem.- cp. Mal 4:1
In the next chapter (Isaiah 32), Isaiah introduces 'the ensign whose fire is in Zion.' cp. Mat 3:11,12)

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