The Punishment of Israel

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Pride

After giving a description of the coming Messiah, Isaiah focuses on the nation of his day. The nation in Isaiah’s day was ruled by leaders who did not care about the people under them. Pride made Israel think it would recover and rebuild in its own strength (vv. 8-9). Isaiah was writing to the nation of Judah but he used the Northern Kingdom of Israel as an example of the fact that God’s judgment is sever. Even as these words were being penned the Northern Kingdom was already in disrepair. Judah should have realized that she too would be destroyed if she continued in her sinful ways. However, Israel’s inhabitants apparently felt they would only experience a temporary setback and that they could rebuild better than before (vv. 10-12). But in God’s plan this was not to happen. He judged them for their hardness of heart in their refusal to return to the Lord (vv. 13-17).

Israel was being led astray by false prophets and foolish leaders; the nation would not listen to God’s Word. Ephraim’s own wickedness was destroying the nation, the way a fire destroys a forest or a field (vv. 18-19). In their greed, the people of the Northern Kingdom were devouring one another, (v. 20) and battling one another (v. 21); but they would soon be devoured and defeated by Assyria.

Application

Pride made Israel think they could get away with the things they were doing. Even though God made Israel a nation and gave them the land they occupied, the people put their trust in themselves rather than in Him. Too often I tend to take pride in my accomplishments rather than giving God the credit for our every resource and ability. Lord help me to always put you first and me second.

Isaiah 9:8-21 (English Standard Version)

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: "The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place." But the LORD raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies. The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the LORD of hosts. So the LORD cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day-- the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for everyone is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.

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