Isaiah 33 - Outline of Isaiah (MENU page)
I.E. Five 'Woes' upon unbelievers, 28:1-33:24
5. The Treacherous Spoilers of Israel, for Israel's King will come to restore them, 33:1-24
1. Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou [wast] not spoiled;
and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee!
when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled;
[and] when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.
Woe... - This is the last of the five 'woes' in this section of Isaiah.
The previous four 'woes' were directed against Ephraim and Judah due to their unbelief and mockery of God's Word, and because they disregarded the God of their Covenant, placing their confidence instead in the power and promises of men. This 'woe' concerns the gentile nations who will reap the consequences of their mistreatment of Israel.
...to thee that spoilest... and dealest treacherously {ie., deceitfully}...-
- - The first application of this 'woe' would be upon Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who spoiled Jerusalem by demanding an exorbitant price for peace. King Hezekiah complied by stripping the gold and silver from the Temple. Soon afterwards, Sennacherib broke his promise and commanded his army to lay siege to the city. But the LORD would hold him accountable, dealing with him as he had dealt with God's people. cp. 2Kin 18:13-17; Isa 10:12; 37:36-38
- - Since that time, other gentile nations have experienced the consequences of touching the 'apple of God's eye' (eg., Babylon, Jer 25:12-14). The final application of this 'woe' will be upon the antichrist and the nations that join with him. Rev 17:12-14; Zech 2:8
2. O LORD, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee:
be thou their arm
{ie., strength, defense} every morning,
our salvation
{HB=yeshuah} also in the time of trouble.
This is a prayer of Israel's believing remnant,
throughout the years of gentile dominion, and especially in the Tribulation. cp. Isa 25:9
Observe the use of pronouns in this prayer:
  • ...be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee...- The remnant appeals to the One in whom they trust.
  • be thou their arm...- The remnant intercedes for their brethren, that they also might come to faith. cp. Rom 10:1
  • [be thou] our salvation...- The remnant identifies with their brethren in their trouble and in their need of the Savior. cp. Daniel's confession and plea for mercy on behalf of his people, in Dan 9:4-19.
The LORD responds, in vs.3-19...
3 At the noise of the tumult the people fled;
at the lifting up of thyself the nations were scattered.
4 And your spoil shall be gathered [like] the gathering of the caterpiller:
as the running to and fro of locusts shall he run upon them.
5 The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high:
he hath filled Zion with judgment
{ie., justice} and righteousness.
6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times,
[and] strength of salvation
{HB=yeshuah}:
the fear of the LORD [is] his treasure.
at the noise of the tumult... at the lifting up of Thyself...-
The noise of battle, raised by the gentile nations, will turn against them, when the LORD rises up to defend Jerusalem. Thus, Sennacherib's advance would fail, as will the plans of the antichrist. cp. Isa 14:24-27; 17:12-14; 37:29,33-35; Psa 46:6
the LORD is exalted... he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness.-
So it will be when the Lord Jesus Christ occupies David's throne.
He is the 'Salvation' of v.6, as the NASB translation makes clear...
"And He shall be the stability of your times, [cp. v.20; Isa 11:2-5]
A wealth of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; [cp. Isa 45:17; 51:6; 1Cor 1:30]
The fear of the LORD is his treasure." [cp. Psa 112:1; Mat 6:19-21,33; 2Cor 4:6,7; 1Tim 6:6]
and your spoil shall be gathered...- Instead of being spoiled,
Jerusalem will vigourously gather the spoil of the enemies who formerly oppressed them. (cp. 2Kin 7:15,16, when the Lord broke the Syrian siege of Samaria, 180 years prior to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem.) No doubt, when the Lord decimated Sennacherib's army, the people of Jerusalem also gathered what was left behind. They will also spoil their enemies in the future (Isa 11:14).
- - However, the things described in vs.3-6 will not become reality until Christ reigns in Jerusalem. In vs.7-9, we are called again to view the troubles that will befall Israel until then.
7 Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without:
the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.
8 The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth:
he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.
9 The earth mourneth [and] languisheth:
Lebanon is ashamed [and] hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness;
and Bashan and Carmel shake off [their fruits].
...their valiant ones {HB= er'el, heros} shall cry... - The HB word is similar to 'Ariel'. cp. Isa 29:1,2
Their strong men, in whom they trusted, would cry out in distress, unable to deliver even themselves.
...the ambassadors of peace shall weep...- Israel's diplomats would shed bitter tears
for the failure of their attempts to secure peace for their nation. cp. Isa 36:22
the highways lie waste... - Travel and commerce are curtailed.
the earth {HB=eretz} mourneth {HB=abal, laments} and languisheth {HB=amal, droops from exhaustion}...-
What is the reason for the devastation described here?
he hath broken the covenant... - When Sennacherib broke his covenant,
the citizens of Jerusalem could not leave the city because of the siege, and the surrounding countryside was ravaged by the Assyrian troops. Israel will experience similar things, when the antichrist breaks his covenant with them. Dan 9:27
10 Now will I rise, saith the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.
11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble:
your breath, [as] fire, shall devour you.
12 And the people shall be [as] the burnings of lime:
[as] thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.
now will I rise... - The LORD waits until His people come to the end of themselves.
When they acknowledge their inability to deliver themselves, and cry out to Him, then He arises to do for them what they could not do for themselves. cp. Psa 46:10; Zech 14:1-3
ye shall conceive chaff... your breath {or, spirit}... shall devour you.-
The things that Israel's enemies imagine against them, in hearts full of cruelty and deception, will turn to their own destruction. cp. Isa 8:9,10
13. Hear, ye [that are] far off, what I have done;
and, ye [that are] near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites.
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
hear, ye that are far off {ie., the heathen}... ye that are near {ie., the jews}...-
The miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from Sennacherib's siege, would declare the LORD's "eternal power and Godhead" to all people. cp. Psa 46:6-11; Rom 1:18-20
the sinners in Zion are afraid...-
The scornful men who mocked God's Word, suddenly cower in awe and dread of the God they had defied (cp. Isa 28:14; 29:13; 30:8-11).
Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? - cp. Deu 4:23,24; Heb 12:29
Having witnessed God's judgment upon the Assyrians, the unbelievers of Israel realize that they also have no standing before the Holy God. Psa 11:6; Heb 10:30,31
- - Yet, there are some who can approach unto Him (as described in the following verses).
15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly;
he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes,
that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;
16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence [shall be] the munitions
{ie., strongholds} of rocks:
bread shall be given him; his waters [shall be] sure.
17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty:
they shall behold the land that is very far off.
18 Thine heart shall meditate terror.
Where [is] the scribe? where [is] the receiver? where [is] he that counted the towers?
19 Thou shalt not see a fierce people,
a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive;
of a stammering tongue, [that thou canst] not understand.
he that walketh righteously...- In contrast to the hypocrites who despise God's Word,
these heed its warnings, turn from sin, pursue and receive righteousness from the God of their salvation. cp. Psa 15:1-5; 24:3-5
he shall dwell on high...- ie., in the LORD's Presence,
secure in His protection, sure of His provision. cp. Isa 26:1-4; Eph 1:3
thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty...- cp. Isa 32:1,2; Joh 17:24
...they shall behold the land that is very far off.- cp. Heb 11:13-16
thine heart shall meditate terror...- In that day, when the redeemed of the LORD muse about their prior troubles,
it will be in realization of the greatness of their deliverance from their enemies. When the Assyrians spoiled Israel, the scribe recorded the spoil, the receiver weighed it, and another officer kept record of the strongholds that had been pillaged. But now, the enemy's officers are nowhere to be found.
thou shalt not {ie., never again} see a fierce people... of... tongue, that thou canst not understand...-
In the past, the Lord sent foreign nations to judge His people... but now judgment is forever past. cp. Deu 28:49,50; Isa 28:11
20 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities:
{'solemnities' is HB=mow'ed, appointed meetings, solemn feasts, cp. 2Chr 8:13; Lam 2:6}
thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation,
a tabernacle [that] shall not be taken down;
not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken.
21 But there the glorious LORD [will be] unto us a place of broad rivers [and] streams;
wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.
22 For the LORD [is] our judge, the LORD [is] our lawgiver, the LORD [is] our king;
he will save us.
23 Thy tacklings are loosed;
they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail:
then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.
24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick:
the people that dwell therein [shall be] forgiven [their] iniquity.
When Christ reigns as King, Jerusalem will be at peace, the place of true worship will be restored, never to be removed. The LORD Himself will refresh His people, like a great river (Psa 46:4,5; Rev 22:1-4). Upon this river, no enemy will ever navigate its warships (v.21), for the LORD has delivered His people (v.22) and caused the shipwreck of those who would afflict them (v.23; cp. the fate of Tyre: Eze 27:26,27). The destruction of the enemies is so complete, that even the feeble among God's people gather their spoil (cp. Psa 68:12). The inhabitants of God's city will no longer be sick under the curse of sin, because the LORD has forgiven {lit., carried away} their iniquity (v.24; cp. Jer 33:6-8; 50:20; Joh 1:29; 1Joh 1:7-9).

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