Isaiah’s Time of Trouble

Isaiah 31 begins by reinforcing the fact that Egypt cannot be trusted to save Israel.  Their men are not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit.  They cannot defeat the Lord.  Instead, the Lord will protect His people in their time of trouble.

There is a call to repentance here that is as applicable now as it was in Isaiah’s time.  Isaiah 31:6 begs, “Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.”

Although a time of trouble was prophesied, Isaiah 31 repeats the constant theme of Isaiah by saying that Assyria will not fall by the hands of men but by the hands of the Lord.  Even though this referred to the past, it is applicable to the future.  This is why Isaiah 32 starts telling us that a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule with justice.  God’s people will be protected and provided for.  This is a reference to the millennial reign of the Messiah.

Over the centuries, the eyes of men have been spiritually dim and their ears have been spiritually deaf.  Their hearts can’t fully comprehend knowledge and they can’t speak without stammering.  As the time of Messiah’s reign draws closer, the eyes and ears of men are being opened.  Those who are searching for truth are finding it.  People are beginning to understand knowledge and are boldly proclaiming it.  More people are coming out of pagan Christianity and becoming Torah observant — not only one by one but also in groups!

The hearts of men will be changed under Messiah’s rulership.  Oh, how I long for that time!  Those who are foolish will be seen for what they really are.  Even now they are seen as generous despite the fact that they practice ungodliness.  Some speak against the Lord and deny food for the hungry and drink for those who are thirsty.  The Lord sees that there are those who devise wicked plans.

It seems as if the Lord is showing us in Isaiah that even during Messiah’s reign, there will be some level of lawlessness.  This goes against the teaching of the Christian church.  Can this be true?  I believe so.  For now, I think it’s important for us to understand that not every evil person on the earth is going to be destroyed when Christ returns.  Those who come to fight in the battle of Armageddon will be destroyed but there will still be lawful and lawless survivors throughout the earth.  For many, the millennial reign of Messiah is the final teaching and sifting period before the final judgment at the great white throne.

Isaiah 32 shifts to the past to address complacent women.  The prophet warned them that the grape harvest would be choked out by briars and thorns because the palaces would be forsaken and the city would be deserted.  The prophet said forts and towers would become wastelands for a long time until the Spirit is poured out on them.  At that time, they would become fertile fields.  Over the centuries, there have been times in Israel where the land did not produce but when in the hands of its rightful owners it has produced abundantly.  Just think of the incredible amount of food that will be produced when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem!  At that time, justice and righteousness will prevail and result in tranquility and security forever.

Before times of abundance, peace, and security come, times of destruction must come.  In the past, Assyria brought destruction.  In the future, the beast of Revelation and his armies will come and cause destruction. 

To understand the future, we must understand the past.  In 2 Kings 18-19, Hezekiah paid tribute to Sennacherib by giving him the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple in order to obtain peace.  This lasted for an unspecified number of years but at some point, the king of Assyria broke his treaty by sending his men with an army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah to extract a pledge from him.  These men threatened to destroy Jerusalem and to exile God’s people.  Hezekiah repented; he pled for mercy and deliverance from the day of trouble.

In the future, the prince of the people to come will make a treaty or covenant with God’s people [or simply strengthen (gabar) a preexisting covenant] for seven years.  This is most likely an offer of peace veiled in deception.  This seven year period is known as the 70th week (shavuah = 7 years) of Daniel (Daniel 9:27).  The latter half of the 70th week of Daniel is mentioned in Jeremiah 30:7 and is known as “Jacob’s trouble.” The “prince that is to come” will put an end to sacrifices and offerings in the middle of this shavuah.  I think it’s safe to say he will threaten to destroy Jerusalem and kill or exile God’s people so he can have Jerusalem for himself.  Scripture clearly teaches us that the desolator will exalt himself until the Lord pours out destruction on him. 

Now, let’s get back to Isaiah 32.  As I mentioned earlier, the prophet foretold of a time when the surrounding lands would suffer from devastation.  The palace would be abandoned; the land would produce thorns and briars; and the forts and towers would become wastelands.  Second Kings 19:23-24 infers this devastation was caused by Sennacherib’s men.  They cut down trees; dug and drank strange water; and dried up the brooks of defense. 

At this point in Isaiah, the Lord said He would arise and exalt Himself and force the wicked to acknowledge His strength.  The ungodly were afraid of the eternal burning which we call hell.  The prophet said the righteous would live securely with plenty of provisions; see the king in his beauty; and gaze on a land stretching into the distance.

I believe this is a description of the future more than it was of the past.  In the future, people will be begging the Lord to show them mercy and save them from the time of trouble like He did in the past.  Eventually, the Lord will respond and answer their prayers.  Never forget that even though it seems as if the prophet spoke of the past, he was also speaking of the future to us.  When that time comes, Israel’s enemies will see the Lord and fear the fires of hell.  When the Battle of Armageddon is over, I assure you, we will live securely.  We will be in awe of the Lord as we see the King in His beauty and majesty. The spoil of war will be so great that everyone will have a part of it.  Those living in the land will have their sins forgiven and not be ill.  The Lord will provide for our needs and protect us when the armies of Gog surround Jerusalem at the end of the millennial reign of the Messiah. 

As we wait for that time to come, we must study God’s word.  We must overcome translational biases, and understand the cultural and historical background of the Scripture.  We must learn how to walk out the commands of Scripture in order to be faithful to our Bridegroom.  We must pray for our deliverance and that of God’s people.

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Woe to the Children of Israel

Isaiah 30 begins with a woe to “the rebellious children.”  These “children” were making plans that were not the Lord’s and developing alliances that were not a result of the leading of the Spirit of God.  Instead of repenting of their sins, they sought refuge from the pharaoh in Egypt.

Surely this is a reference to the Israelites of 2 Kings 17 and 18.  When Hoshea was the king of Israel in Samaria, he became a vassal of Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria and paid him tribute.  Several years later, Hoshea send messengers to So, the king of Egypt and stopped paying tribute to the king of Assyria.  This made the king of Assyria angry so he put Hoshea in prison.  In the ninth year of Hoshea’s reign, the king of Assyria finally took Samaria and carried away Israel to Assyria because they abandoned the commandments of the Lord their god; committed idolatry, witchcraft, soothsaying; and did other evil in the sight of the Lord.  Samaria was taken in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign in Judah.

These people were disappointed because the Egyptians left them disgraced.  The prophecy found in Isaiah 30, describes Egypt as “Arrogance Doing Nothing.”  The children of the Lord are described as lying children who refused to hear the Torah of the Lord.  They did not want to hear about the visions of the seers.  They desired to trust in extortion and rely on deceit as a way of life.  They refused to return and rest in the Lord who could save them.  If they had, He would have given them calmness and confidence which could have made them strong.  Surely, they thought they could flee from their enemies.

Hezekiah, the king of Judah was not completely like Hoshea, the king of Israel.  Hezekiah gave us a different example to follow.  In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria came against the cities of Judah.  This resulted in Hezekiah paying the king of Assyria silver and gold.  The king of Assyria sent an army against Jerusalem and accused them of having plans of war and said they were trusting Pharaoh, the king of Egypt for Egypt’s chariots and horsemen. 

The Assyrians errantly believed that the Lord could not protect the Judeans because Hezekiah had removed the high places.  They mistakenly believed that the high places belonged to the Lord when in reality, they really didn’t.  These Assyrians intended to conquer Judah and receive tribute from Hezekiah.  They threatened the Jews with exile if they did not comply.  Sennacherib mocked the Lord’s ability to protect the Jews.  First Kings 19 says that when Hezekiah heard about this, he demonstrated a heart of repentance, went into the house of the Lord, and prayed for deliverance.  The Lord answered Hezekiah’s prayer by sending the angel of the Lord to kill those in the camp of the Assyrians.

Hezekiah experienced the truth of Isaiah 30:18-19:  “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry; When He hears it, He will answer you.”

This is the word for Israel today!  The Lord wants to reveal Himself to His people.  He wants them to hear the word of the Lord and walk in the ancient path.  Israel needs to cast aside their idols no matter what form they take.  Once they do so, He will send literal rain in its season so that nutritious food will grow abundantly.  The water will flow in streams and brooks instead of their being dry, empty stream-beds.

At this point in Scripture, the prophecy of Isaiah begins shifting to a time in the future—the day of the Lord, the day of great slaughter. 

Matthew 24:29-31 describes it like this:   “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

The coming of the glory of the Lord will cause the sun and moon to change.  The moon will be as bright as the light of the sun and the light of the sun will be seven times stronger.  Once he gathers His chosen ones together, He will heal them and bind up their wounds.

The vision seen of the Lord in Isaiah is one of the Lord coming to the earth.  Note the physical description here:

  • Anger, burning in thick rising smoke;
  • Lips, full with fury;
  • Tongue, a consuming fire;
  • Breath like a racing torrent that rises up to the neck.

It is clear He has come to selectively destroy the wicked of the nations and lead them away.

Revelation 9:11-16 describes Jesus whose name is “Faithful and True”:

  • Riding on a white horse;
  • Passing judgment and going into battle in righteousness;
  • Eyes like a fiery flame;
  • Royal crowns on His head;
  • A name written  which no one knew but himself;
  • Wearing a blood soaked robe;
  • The name by which He is called, “The Word of God;”
  • Accompanied by the armies of heaven on white horses;
  • Sword coming out of His mouth with which to strike down the nations.”
  • Ruling with a staff of iron;
  • Treading the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of the Lord, God of heaven’s armies.
  • “King of kings and Lord of lords” written on his robe and thigh.

Isaiah 30:29 says the people will sing a song like that which is happily sung on a night when a holy feast is kept.  Revelation 15:3-4 says this song is the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:  “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! 4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”

The Lord will come in furious anger, in a flaming firestorm, with cloudbursts, tempests, and hailstones.  He will terrify the Assyrians as He strikes them down with His scepter.  Who are the Assyrians?  Are they only those the angel of the Lord killed in Hezekiah’s time?  No, this is also referring to the nations who will come against Israel in the last day. 

Isaiah 30:33 says the Tofet fire pit has long been ready for the king of Assyria.  It has been set on fire by the breath of the Lord.  The Tofet fire is a place of cremation.  It is the everlasting fire repeatedly referred to in the New Testament.  This is also the fire the Beast and False Prophet of Revelation will be thrown into.  This fire is also known as the second death into which those from the second resurrection will be thrown into after they are judged according to what they had done during their lives.

What about present-day Israel? 

They can no longer trust in Egypt or America.  Israel must repent, realize the Yeshua is HaMashiyach, and rest in Him.  They must remember that the angel of the Lord killed the Egyptians on the night of the first Passover and the angel of the Lord killed the Assyrians who came against Hezekiah.  Since that is the case, “Faithful and True” will come to kill those who come against Israel on the day of the Lord. 

Long ago, the Assyrians did not believe the Lord would rescue Jerusalem because Hezekiah had removed the high places of other gods.  Today, Israel’s enemies do not believe in the power of the Lord God of Israel.  They mock the King of kings and Lord of lords by saying their god is greater than all other gods.  This will lead to their destruction. 

All believers must know these prophecies, believe them, and count on them!

Remember, anyone who comes claiming he is Messiah before that day is not the Messiah so don’t be deceived or led astray!!