God-Thoughts from Isaiah 31

This chapter tells us so many things about God.  Here’s four thoughts:

  1. God knows exactly what is going to happen in the future (vv. 8-9).  Open Theism is heretical because it puts human restrictions on a non-human God.  Open Theism says that God does not know and cannot see the future. This chapter plainly shows God telling us what will happen to Judah, Egypt, and Assyria in the coming days.  We know from the Bible and other sources that what God said did in fact come true.
  2. God allows, and even causes, his people to go through terrible times that they might repent from worshiping something other than God (vv. 6-7).  From the context of this chapter (chapters 28-33), we know that God caused the Assyrians to come and attack Judah for their sin.  Yet, even in that, God will punish Assyria for their sin of destroying God’s people and city.
  3. God fights for his people (vv. 4-5).  He is our great General who knows exactly what we are going through and how much we can handle. The greater context of the Scriptures tells us that God may not always deliver us physically, but we have hope that he will not let us be eternally destroyed.
  4. God will not let the unjust go unpunished (vv. 3, 8-9).  Egypt will perish.  Assyria will be burned.  For Judah, Egypt took the place of protector and Assyria took the place of fighter.  God’s strength will easily overtake these wicked nations to bring his people back to himself.

This chapter should cause our view of God to increase dramatically.  We should fall on our faces.  It should cause us to marvel at and trust in this all-knowing, all-powerful, all-consuming God who is fierce, yet tender, just, yet forgiving, and frightening, yet comforting.


The Woefulness of Sin

Isaiah 5 is a dark chapter for God’s people.  Chapter 4 prophesies the coming Messiah, the Branch of the Lord, who will be beautiful and glorious, who will draw all people to himself.  Before that day, however, darkness and growling will be over Judah.  In 5:18-23, there are four “woes” that the Lord gives to his people, and it shows the downward spiral of what sin does to our lives.

  • They “draw iniquity with cords of falsehood” and “draw sin as with car ropes.” Their sin follows them everywhere. They are a slave to their sin (cf. Prov. 5:22). They are so deep in their sin that their spiritual eyes cannot see the works of the Lord. They cry, “If he’s real, let him come so we can know him!” (cf. 2 Peter 3:4). They are treasuring their sin and God’s creation more than God himself.
  • They “call evil good and good evil…put darkness for light and light for darkness…put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” They are very confused about what is right and wrong. Sin is not just the doing of bad things, it is the twisting of good. Romans 1:24-25 says that people have exchanged the truth about God for a lie. That is what we do when we sin. That was the temptation that caused the first sin. Adam and Eve were deceived and they exchanged the truth for a filthy deception.
  • They “are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight.” Sin corrupts the perception we have of ourselves.  We are bad people, but sin makes us think we are good.  God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). We should only have any wisdom in God. Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.”
  • They “are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink” and they “acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right.” We are not supposed to be drunk on wine — or anything else! Instead, we are to be intoxicated by God’s Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18). We should be valiant in spiritual battle for ourselves, our families, our church, and our communities. We should be people who seek justice instead of falling into the snare of the love of money (1 Timothy 6:9).

Notice the progression of the “woes.” First, we become slaves to sin as it draws us around like we are on a cart rope. Next, we begin to think what we are doing is good and right even though it is wrong and evil. Then, we actually believe what we are doing is wise and become proud, unrepentant, and arrogant in our actions, thoughts, and words. Finally, we become “heroes” at what we do, that is, we become very good at sinning.  We are not excelling in love for God and people. We are excelling in sin and unrighteousness.

This is the woefulness of sin.  This happens before we come to Christ, and at varying times, this can even happen in the life of a believer.  That is why we are called to “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).  It can only be done by the Spirit.  It can only be done by grace through faith.