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Isaiah 28:1 - 13

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Woe To Samaria (ch. 28:1 - 13)


In verse 1 we see Ephraim mentioned.  
Ephraim is another word for Israel, which as I've been saying, are really the northern 10 tribes of Israel.  Judah was the name for the southern ten tribes. 


Most all commentators relate the words "majestic crown" in verse 1 to be Samaria, the capital of Ephraim or Israel. 


We must remember that Isaiah lived in Judah, the southern nation of the split nation of Israel.  It's debatable just when chapter 28 was written or written about.  Some place the date just prior to 721 BC, just before Ephraim fell to the Assyrians.  Others place chapter 28 through to 33 in and around 705 to 701 BC.  At the moment I lean towards the second date. 


If the second date is correct, that means Ephraim has already fallen to the Assyrians and the Woe of judgment seen here is meant to be a warning to the southern nation of Israel, Judah. 


Notice the word "summit" in verse 1.  We're talking about a mountain here, the same mountain that we see the Samaritan woman speaking to Jesus about in John 4.  For it was in this mountain where the Samaritans and those in the northern tribes went to worship.  Samaria in fact was equivalent to Jerusalem in the south. 


These woes were directed to the leaders of Ephraim, who according to verse 1, were acting and ruling like drunkards.  No wonder their nation fell and the glory of Samaria was fast fading as we see in verse 1.


Verse 2 speaks of a strong and mighty one that belongs to the Lord.  This strong and mighty one would sweep across the land like a powerful storm.  This strong and mighty one was the Assyrian army that devastated Ephraim in 721 BC. 


We need to note here that the strong one, that's Assyria, belongs to the Lord.  The army is in fact the hand of the Lord as seen in verse 2.  This clearly indicates that God the Lord uses pagan nations, enemy nations, to attack His own people to fulfill His will in judgment.  The northern 10 tribes of Israel fell to the Assyrians as an act of God's judgment. 


Verse 3 states that the majestic crown of Ephraim; that's Samaria , will be trampled underfoot and happened in 721 BC.  Verse 4 says the same, except it uses an analogy of a fig that a person will swallow just before harvest.  Ephraim would be swallowed up just as one swallows up a ripe fig.  


As we've seen throughout the book of Isaiah, in verse 5 we see the words "in that day".  These words always speak of a future day when God will restore the remnant of His people Israel, from both the north and the south.  That day has not yet come.  That is obvious by what is said about that day. 


On that day the Lord of Host will become a crown of beauty.  Samaria once was a crown of beauty in Israel but it has fallen.  The day will come the God Himself will become Israel's crown of beauty and glory.  Again, that day has not yet come, but it will come.


The word "host" in verse 5 means army.  God is the Lord of armies.  God has His own army.  This is not a social, political, or even religious thing to say, but it is what the Bible says.  We see God having an army all the way through the Bible and it's not only an Old Testament thing.  We see the army of God in the book of Revelation.  The army is the angelic army.  Then, when it comes to the end of this age as seen in the book of Revelation, the saints who have died in the Lord are part of that army as well.


Note the word "remnant" in verse 5.  Again, this prophecy, according to Prophetic Futurists, will be fulfilled when Jesus returns to be the earthly King of Israel.  A remnant of Israelis will be saved out of the Battle of Armageddon.  The 7 year tribulation that ends this age will bring a portion of Israel to its knees and that portion will receive their Messiah as He returns to earth.  The rest of the Israelis will die in battle.  This is how all Israel will be saved as Paul says in Romans 11:25 and 26.  All Israel is all Israel because there will be no unbelieving Israelis left at the end of the 7 year tribulation period.


Verse 6 speaks of a spirit of justice from the one who sits in judgment.  The one who sits in judgment is Jesus and He will rule justly.  Finally, there will be a completely just ruler of Israel, and really, of the world.


The last half of verse 6 speaks of people having strength who appear to turn back the enemy at the gate.  Being a Prophetic Futurist, I can easily see this battle as the last great battle, the Battle of Armageddon. Israel, Jerusalem inparticular, will be saved from the opposing armies of the nations of the world.


Many suggest verses 7 through 13 are being addressed to the southern nation of Israel that is Judah.  Others, and the HCSB seems to suggest this due to its chapter titles, say it's still talking about Ephraim.  Those who see it speaking to Judah say so because of the covenant of death spoken of in verse 15 which they say is the covenant the Judah made with Egypt, something they were not to do, to aid Judah in its fight against Assyria.

I lean to this section being directed to Judah.


Verse 7 tells us that the priests, like the leaders of Ephraim in verse 1, are drunkards.  Their thinking, visions, instruction, and judgments are all distorted due to drinking an excess of wine and beer.  This is how low the priesthood got in both the north and south of Israel.


At this point I'd like to say something about dinking wine and beer.  Isaiah is talking about getting drunk.  Actually, he is talking about a life style of drunkenness.  He's talking about priests being alcoholics.  All the way through the Bible we are warned about the problems with the excesses of wine and beer.  That being said, nowhere in the Bible does it specifically state that we are not to drink wine or beer.  It only warns us about what happens when we get drunk.  The Apostle Paul does tell us not to get drunk with wine (Ephesians 5:18).  He doesn't tell us not to drink wine, just not to get drunk with wine.  He actually tells Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23).  It is clear to me that Jesus Himself drank wine.  I also believe He turned water into wine, not grape juice.  Those who drank His wine said it was the best wine they had ever drunk.  I can't believe these people would think grape juice was better than wine.  Besides, the same Greek word translated as wine when Paul said don't get drunk with wine is the same Greek word translated as wine when Jesus turned the water into wine.


Drunks vomit and this is what we see in verse 8.   All the tables of these priests are drenched in their vomit.  It's a sickening picture.


Isaiah in verse 9 is simply saying these priests should not be teaching anyone in their drunken state.  They're like babies, just babbling away.


Verse 10 is hard to translate because the Hebrew seems to be obscure.  It seems that Isaiah is simply making up words, talking baby talk as we would put it. They're just talking nonsense.


The prophet Isaiah predicts that God would speak to His people with stammering lips and by those of a foreign language.  This is not in reference to speaking in tongues as I've heard some Pentecostals say.  This is in fact speaking of the foreign lips and language of the Assyrians when they come to attack Judah as an act of God's judgment.  The Assyrians, who do not talk the same language as the Jews, will speak words of war and judgment on behalf of God.  Since God is using Assyria in His judgment against Israel, all that the Assyrians speak, which according to verse 13 appear to be the same baby talk words of nonsense, to the Jews. 


So, as verse 13 implies, the priest spoke nonsense
 to God's people and in like manner as an act of judgment, the Assyrians would speak the same words of nonsense in judgment.  They are nonsense to the Jews because for the most part, the Jews do not understand their language.     


This wasn't God's original plan for either the northern tribes or the southern tribes.  As verse 12 states, all of Israel was meant to live in peace, and that would have been the case if they had only obeyed their God

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