Isaiah 28:14-29 Sermon

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Introduction
            Have you ever been stuck in traffic and knew you were about to witness a horrific car wreck and there was nothing you could do about it? Well, that is kind of like what happened to the prophet Isaiah. He had witnessed the fall of the Northern kingdom and could tell what was about to happen to the south, so he tries to give them warning and opportunity to change, but instead they held their ground on the word of men and not of God.  This is the beginning of a group of bad decisions that will lead the Lord to do something he doesn’t want to do, but must be done. Now that I have your attention lets take a look at today’s passage in Isaiah 28:14-29.
Exegesis
Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,
who rule this people in Jerusalem! [1]
            While this may seem like an inconsequential verse, it is so jam packed full of information that the best place to start is going to be at the “Therefore.” Now according to John Oswalt, “with the opening “therefore” the prophet calls them to pay attention to what has been said to the northern leaders and perhaps learn something form his message to them. Judgment is eminent in the north and it is not at all clear that they will escape it in the south. “ [2]
            Who exactly is he speaking to when he calls the people scoffers? A closer look at the last part of the verse reveals that he is speaking to the rulers of Jerusalem. What exactly is a scoffer? In the book of Proverbs, the scoffer was the worst type of sinner (E.g. Prov 1:22; 29:8; cf. Ps. 1:1), for he is utterly contemptuous of the ways of God.[3]Golidngay adds that, “The scoffers are people who can talk their way out of anything.”[4]We can see from this passage that Isaiah is holding the leaders of Jerusalem accountable for their attitude toward God.
             In verse fifteen he say that they have made a covenant with death. There are several differing viewpoints on this verse; first, you have those commentators who strictly believe that this is in reference to an agreement made with Egypt for their protection from Assyria.  According to Walvoord and Zuck, “It seems that Isaiah was using imagery rich in the symbolism of Semitic mythology. For example, in the Ugaritic pantheon death was personified as the god of the underworld. The Jerusalem leaders were trusting in other gods to save them from the coming scourge, the Assyrian invasion.”[5]This author feels that it is a covenant made with Egypt that should be kept in view and not the alternative.     Several commenters have made the point that some of the speech being used in verse fifteen is more ironic and cynical and not truly from the leaders, but from Isaiah himself. Take for example the use of the word “lie,” it would probably have been a different set of terminology used there by the people. The Net Bible notes say “Lie” and “deceitful word” would not be the terms used by the people. They would likely use the words “promise” and “reliable word,” but the prophet substitutes “lie” and “deceitful word” to emphasize that this treaty with death will really prove to be disappointing.”[6]Deceitful word is falsehood in many other translations such as the ESV, and the NIV.
            Verse sixteen ultimately is fulfilled in the Messiah as being the chief cornerstone (Romans 9:33). To the undiscerning eye this verse may seem a little out of place, but to the right person this verse has been perfectly placed between unrighteous and unfaithful acts and the measuring of justification. Who tested this stone and what is the ultimate outcome? Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown suggest it was tried, “both by the devil (Lu 4:1–13) and by men (Lu 20:1–38), and even by God (Mt 27:46); a stone of tested solidity to bear the vast superstructure of man’s redemption. The tested righteousness of Christ gives its peculiar merit to His vicarious sacrifice.”[7]It goes on to say that it is a precious cornerstone of a sure foundation, in building the cornerstone there was a load baring stone often very large and expensive that was set in the corner where two walls would meet. The purpose of this stone was to set the foundation and make sure that everything was plumb and true.  Continues on by saying that whoever believes will not be in haste. Paul gives us comfort in this when he says, “33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 9:33 ESV)
            Verses seventeen and eighteen go on to prove that no matter what plans a person has made, if they do not line up with what the Lord intends, then it will not come to pass. In verse eighteen the overwhelming scourge, is a metaphor of flogging and drowning that refers to the Assyrian invasion. [8]As Isaiah goes on, he says in verse nineteen that it will go on morning by morning and day and by night, meaning that the torment that Israel is about to encounter is going to be unrelenting. According to Trent Butler, “their treaty partner would bring death and destruction. They could not hope to survive one raid and be done with it. Over and again the foreign army would flood their land. Finally, they would understand Isaiah’s message, but it would be too late.”[9]
            Moving ahead verse twenty sounds like it could have been written in the twenty first century. It speaks of them seeking comfort in a bed that is to short and a blanket that is too narrow. It sounds like our phrase of “You made your bed now lie in it.” Verse twenty speaks of a strange deed because instead of the Lord fighting for Israel he is going to use her enemies against her; and that of course is strange seeing as Israel is the beloved of the Lord.
            At first verses twenty-three to twenty-nine almost seem out of place, until you come to understand that the Lord is using Isaiah to give these people a parable in the same type of manner the Lord Jesus himself would use parables to teach. In this parable we see that farming is at the center of it. The point that the Lord is ultimately trying to make is that a farmer does not do one thing all the time, there is a different season for each step, and there are different means of reaching the goal depending upon what you are reaping. You will not use a grindstone on dill like you will on wheat.
Conclusion
            There are several things that can be taken away from all of this and the most important has to be that no matter what the odds look like, always trust in the Lord and his provision. We do not want to make the same mistake Jerusalem made and place our trust in other men or things to watch over us when the Lord is our ultimate protection. He has made a covenant of life with us through Jesus and he is faithful and just to keep his promises.  We can also learn that the Lord will use hard times or means we do not understand to try and bring correction, we just have to be willing to listen and try to understand what it is he is teaching.  So it is my hope that this work has done your soul some good and encouraged you that no matter how bleak the outlook, we have a solid foundation as long as we trust in Christ our cornerstone.
Word Count  1455


Bibliography

Biblical Studies Press. The NET Bible First Edition Notes. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.
Butler, Trent C. Isaiah: Holman Old Testament Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002.
Goldingay, John. Isaiah: New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody: Henderickson Publishers, 2008.
Grogan, Geoffery W. Isaiah- Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 6. 12 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.
Motyer, J. Alec. Isaiah: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009.
Oswalt, John N. Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
Webb, Barry G. The Message of Isaiah. Downers Grove: IVP, 1996.
            Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Comforted. “Be” Commentary Series. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996.
            Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.


            [1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version(Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 28:14.
            [2]Oswalt, John N. Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary.(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003)319.
            [3] Geoffery W Grogan,. Isaiah- Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 6. 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986)180.
            [4]Goldingay, John. Isaiah: New International Biblical Commentary. (Peabody: Henderickson Publishers, 2008)155.
            [5]John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1078.
            ß[6]Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Is 28:15.
            [7]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Is 28:16.
            [8], J. Alec. Motyer Isaiah: Tyndale Old Testament Commentary. (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009)210.
            [9]Trent C.Butler, Isaiah: Holman Old Testament Commentary.(Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002)166.
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