By Christina M Wilson. Published simultaneously at A Plea to Listen: Isaiah Devotional Journal 61 – justonesmallvoice.com.
In this section, Isaiah pleads with three groups of people to listen to God’s instruction. Two groups scoff, and one group hears.
Three Groups and a Savior
Chapter 28 presents all three of the people groups Isaiah frequently mentions and God’s own Chosen One.
- Israel, the northern kingdom (Ephraim, Samaria)–Isaiah 28:1-4 and 7-13
- Jerusalem, representing the southern kingdom–Isaiah 28:14-21
- The Remnant–Isaiah 28:5-6, 16
- The Savior appears in Isaiah 28:5, 16.
Complaint Against the Northern Kingdom
Group 1 (Israel): The prophet Isaiah pronounces woe upon Ephraim. Pride and drunkenness characterize their sin. God had given them a rich and productive land in Canaan, which their greed caused them to exploit, as though they were merely hired servants, rather than owners. After the enemy sweeps through like a violent storm, then the land will rest (Isaiah 28:2, LXE).
Group 3 (the Remnant): When the enemy washes away the false pride of Israel, God will leave behind a remnant of his people Isaiah 28:5). These will steward the land with just judgments and strong encouragement in the Lord (Isaiah 28:6).
The Savior (4 above): In a latter day statement, Isaiah prophesies that the Lord of hosts will himself replace Israel. “In that day, the Lord of hosts shall be the crown of hope, woven of glory, to the remnant of My people” (SAAS) (1). In the words of a popular preacher, the Lord never takes something away without putting something better in its place. God will remove the northern kingdom, which failed him, and replace the nation with himself (Messiah, the Son).
Group 1 (Israel): Verses 7-8 confirms with further detail the judgment against the nation’s leaders, given in verses 1-4.
Israel Rejects God’s Instruction
God attempted to teach his errant people. He did so simply, as to young children just weaned from milk. He gave them, “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” (Isaiah 28:10 and see v. 13, ESV). But Israel neither listened nor learned. Even when the foreign invader would arrive, they still refused to listen.
The Southern Kingdom
Group 2: In Isaiah 28:14-5, the prophet turns his attention to the southern kingdom (Jerusalem). They did no better, perhaps worse, than the northern kingdom. In what appears to be a metaphor, Isaiah charges that they boldly asserted they had made a contract with death. These people, having been blessed by God, turned against God and bartered with his spiritual enemy, death. They think that evil deception will protect them from the punishment God will send.
In one of the most quoted verses of Scripture, God declares–
therefore thus says the Lord, See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion a precious, choice stone, a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations, and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16 NETS) (1 Peter 2:6-8, Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 8:14).
The careful reader can perceive Isaiah’s weaving together of God’s pattern. First, God called Israel as a people–Abraham and his seed. The people, under Joshua, became a nation. The nation divided into two nations after King Solomon. Both of these nations failed to remain loyal to God their king. But–however–in spite of that–God always preserved a remnant people who remained loyal to his ways. This remnant includes “whoever believes in him” and “will not be put to shame.”
God’s Warning and Instruction
God warned the nation. Isaiah 28:17-19 explains how his judgmental discipline and mercy would benefit the nation if they were to heed it. “Learn to listen, you in difficult straits, (SAAS) (1)” he pleads in Septuagint verses 19-20.
The remainder of the chapter cautions the southern nation not to mock and make sport of God’s words through the prophet. Isaiah patiently uses agriculture to describe God’s teaching method. God is not an overly harsh teacher. He proceeds step by step, everything in its order and season. As though he were a farmer, he knows how to teach all different kinds of people. He varies his instruction depending upon his purpose and the nature of the one he handles. The chapter closes by stating, “This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom” (Isaiah 28:29 ESV).
But Do They Listen?
Chapter 29 will answer this question.
To Be Continued…
1 SAAS. "Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”