Isaiah Chapter 31-Introduction:
Egypt- “that splintered reed of a staff.”
In Israel’s long and troubled history many times when the Israelites were confronted by their enemies they looked to man and not to God for help. Often they would look to Egypt to help them in their hour of crisis. In the Bible Egypt is a type of the world and Pharaoh a type of the god of this world Satan. In the time of King Hezekiah when the Israelites in Jerusalem were confronted by the King of Assyria, he taunted the Israelites with these words; “Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh King of Egypt to all who depend on him.” (Isaiah 36:6) The situation facing King Hezekiah and the people of Judah was one that forced them to realize that they could not get outside help. Egypt would prove to be a piercing and very painful splinter in the hand of the one who leaned on that nation and its king for support. The Assyrians were at the very gates of Jerusalem and humanly speaking it looked like the Israelites were finished. Isaiah the prophet was also in the city at the time and like all of the prophets he represented the Messiah in some way as all the prophets did. Isaiah was with them and the crisis was beyond the ability of the people in Jerusalem to overcome. They all humbled themselves before the LORD our God from the king down to the people in the streets of Jerusalem. Through His Word spoken by the prophet Isaiah the LORD destroyed most of the Assyrian army and the rest of the army in total dismay including the king returned to Assyria “with their tails between their legs.” It took a crisis for the Israelites in Jerusalem to get them to turn back to the LORD for help and to look to Him alone to bring about this great deliverance for His people Israel.
Looking to the LORD or to man?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the political leaders in Israel are looking to the President of the United States for help if the truth be known. While the Israelis know they can fight and prevail over their enemies they are also aware of the forces gathering around them hell-bent on their destruction as a nation and that realistically the enemies of Israel are almost too numerous to count. The situation facing Israel today is much worse that it was in 1948, 1967 and in 1973 and even though God fought for israel in those wars the nation did not return to their Messiah. Of course God always remembers His covenants and the one He made with Abraham and this is why He does not destroy Israel even if they follow the ways of the nations which they are still doing at present. The government of Israel today are still not looking to the LORD but to man. The prophet Isaiah saw the future for Israel and the foolishness of looking to the world for support. By the Holy Spirit Isaiah saw a crisis facing Israel in the last days that would see a time of trouble unequalled in past history and never to be equalled again, a time of great tribulation and affliction that would come upon Israel and also affect the whole world. Something is going to come upon Israel that they will not be able to handle and through this situation God will be able to get their attention as a nation.
The Time of Trouble for Jacob
Jeremiah the prophet spoke about this portentous event that would come upon Israel in the last days; “The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. For behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will restore the fortunes of My people Israel and Judah.’ The Lord says, ‘I will also bring them back to the land that I gave to their forefathers and they shall possess it.’” Now these are the words which the Lord spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah: “For thus says the Lord,‘ I have heard a sound of terror, Of dread, and there is no peace. ‘Ask now, and see If a male can give birth. Why do I see every man With his hands on his loins, as a woman in childbirth? And why have all faces turned pale? ‘Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it. ‘It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (Jeremiah 30:1-9)
They “will look upon Him whom they have pierced”
This crisis is coming upon Israel and things will look so bad that terror will afflict the people to the point where every man will be grabbing his stomach in fear at the impending destruction about to be unleashed upon the nation. When it looks like things are finished for Israel the Messiah will reveal Himself to the surviving remnant in Israel at His Second Coming and the remnant in Israel will have an encounter with their Messiah our Lord Jesus. As God says through the prophet Zechariah; “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10) When this happens “all Israel will be saved” and the nation delivered from the impending threat to their survival as a nation and a people before God.
David their King
After this, their Messiah in the character of King David, will reign over them as their King and subjugate the surviving nations. The faithful believing remnant of Israelis will co-reign with their Messiah over the nations of the world and in that day Israel will “possess their possessions”, “possess the gates of their enemies” and be “the head and not the tail.” This is Israel’s glorious future!
Through applied pressure
Right now as we see the Islamic nations gathering, and the United Nations and the European Union becoming increasingly anti-Semitic towards the Jewish nation, and Anti-Semitism sweeping through Europe, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble is looming in the not too distant future. For this time of great tribulation unequalled in past history and never to be equalled again the Jews have to be back in Israel. Many are as yet to return but through applied pressure through anti-Semitism within the nations where they now live they will be forced back to Israel. This time they will not be denied entry as they were before 1948 by the British Government. And so the Prophet Isaiah speaks about Israel’s future in the last days.
Exposition- Isaiah Chapter 31
(Vs.1) “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the Lord!”
One of the commands the LORD gave the Kings of Israel was that they were not to go down to Egypt for horses because He knew that they would look to Egypt for help and support rather than look to Him. (Deuteronomy 17:16) The Israelites had been saved out of Egypt and God did not want them returning there. God also knew the tendency of His people to look to the world for support in a time of crisis and not to their God who had always delivered them in the past when they called out to Him in their extremity. Today Israel’s leaders are relying upon the USA. It is a great thing to see the support that President Trump has shown Israel and he has not only declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel to the chagrin of the whole Muslim world but also is planning to build the US Embassy there as well.
While President Trump is in power it would seem that the USA’s support of Israel is assured and may America continue to support the Jewish people. May America be spiritually revived! In a very real sense if America goes it all goes! God will bless those who bless Israel but curse those who curse Israel. (Genesis 12:3) However, is Israel relying upon the LORD or President Trump for their welfare and security as a nation? Are they in fact “leaning on ‘Egypt,’ that splintered reed of a staff?” America may be powerful and strong militarily and in the future it may well be one of the nations God will use to fight against the forces of Antichrist. (Ezekiel 28:6-10) Hopefully America will continue to stand with Israel.
Having said this Israel must be brought to the place where they have to completely rely upon the LORD and not on the arm of the flesh. The LORD is not pleased with those in leadership in Israel who look to America rather than Him for the safety and security of the nation. As a nation Israel is away from the LORD and looking to ‘Egypt’ for their support. This is the reality in Israel today. First and foremost of course we need to pray for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli government that they will come to repentance and faith in their Messiah our Lord Jesus. It is always to the Jew first (Romans 1:16) One thing that is happening in Israel is that there are many Jewish people coming to faith in the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour and Messiah even though the Orthodox Jews, by enlarge, persecute them as the religious system persecuted the prophets, the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself.
However, most Israelis are away from the LORD and strangers and aliens to their own covenants of promise and tragically it is going to take the time of Jacob’s Trouble to rectify this situation. When the Time of the Big Trouble hits Israel and the world the role of believers in the Lord Jesus will come to the forefront as believers in Him will be the only ones that can help others to turn back to God when things in the world are spiralling out of control. When the Time of Jacob’s Trouble hits Israel and the crisis comes the Messianic believers in Israel at that time will lead many to righteousness. (Daniel 12:3) Many secular and orthodox Jews who are now militantly opposed to the Messianic believers will turn to them for help and comfort when the time of the Big Trouble hits Israel. Ultimately, after three and a half years of Tribulation, the nation as a whole will turn back to their Messiah and He will deliver them from all of their enemies and from the hand of all who hate them. (Luke 1:71) Jerusalem will be secured.
(Vs.2) “Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, And will not call back His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers, And against the help of those who work iniquity.”
Those who seek to rely upon man are called evildoers and share in the same iniquity of those to whom they are looking to for support. When God sends a disaster, as He did on the Assyrians in the time of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, Israel’s enemies will be in confusion and disarray and blown away like tumbleweed in a very strong wind to be seen no more. This is what God did to the Egyptians at the Red Sea. They were all drowned. Something similar to what happened at the Red Sea when the Israelites were with their backs to the sea and the Egyptians were in hot pursuit will come to Israel in the future. When the armies of the nations surround Jerusalem and the Jewish people have their backs against the wall with no human possibility of escape, they will be forced to look to God and to their Messiah as the Children of Israel looked to Moses for deliverance when it looked like the Egyptians would destroy them all.
If there is a change in the White House Israel may well find that the incoming president will not be favourable towards them as we saw clearly revealed in Obama. Hopefully America will always support Israel but Israel must look to the LORD and not to man. President trump cannot save Israel nor can he save America. Only God can do this if He desires and plans to do it but He requires repentance of any nation first regardless of their ethnicity and this includes Israel because God is no respecter of persons but He is a respecter of faith. (Acts 10:34) (Romans 2:11) (Hebrews 11:6)
As it is written; “Righteousness exults a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) The time may come when America cannot help Israel even if they want to because they will be engaged in war on several fronts in the world or even on their home ground due to Islamic terrorism on American soil. Now let’s continue…
(Vs.3) “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, Both he who helps will fall, And he who is helped will fall down; They all will perish together.”
While a nation may be very powerful and strong as America is they are still only human. Now God can and does use nations to fight evildoers such as we have seen in WWII when the Nazi and Japanese war machines had to be stopped. That was one thing but when the leaders of God’s people look to man for support they will find in the end that they will not stand when the real crisis comes. Those who do not look to the LORD will perish at the hands of their enemies because they trusted in man and not God. When the future crisis comes to Israel, as it will, tragically two thirds of the Israelis population will be struck down but a remnant will survive to co-reign with their Messiah after He has revealed Himself to them at His Second Coming. (Zechariah 13:8-9) (Zechariah 12:10-14)
The LORD will roar from Zion as the prophet Zechariah also writes; “The LORD roars from Zion And utters His voice from Jerusalem, And the heavens and the earth tremble. But the LORD is a refuge for His people And a stronghold to the sons of Israel.” (Joel 3:16) As the psalmist also writes; “It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes.” (Psalm 118:9) The psalmist also wrote; “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Psalm 146:3) And again the Psalmist writes; “O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.” (Psalm 115:9) And so Isaiah the prophet continues…
(Vs.4) “For thus the Lord has spoken to me: “As a lion roars, And a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice Nor be disturbed by their noise), So the Lord of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill.”
When the Lion of the Tribe of Judah roars nations tremble and demons run for cover! Isaiah tells us that the LORD is like a brave lion that defies those who are gathered against it. They are dismayed when it roars. When the LORD of Hosts comes down to fight for Mt Zion (His people) He will come in the person of the Messiah our Lord Jesus who is Himself “the Right Arm of the LORD” that wages war against the enemies of God and against His people Israel. The Lord Jesus will come back to fight for Jerusalem, the City of David and for the real Mt Zion where the Temple once stood. (Near or over the Gihon Springs) The Lord Jesus will fight for Jerusalem and so will the remnant of Israel. (Zechariah 12:7-9; 14:3-5, 14) Jerusalem will be secure. (Zechariah 14:11b)
(Vs.5) “Like flying birds so the Lord of hosts will protect (shield) Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; He will pass over and rescue it.”
At the end of three and a half years, (Time, times and half a Time) after the rule of Antichrist and when all of the armies of the nations once again are gathered against Jerusalem the LORD will shield Jerusalem. When He roars through the Lion of the Tribe of Judah the armies of the nations surrounding Jerusalem will be thrown back and destroyed. As the apostle Paul writes; “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
When the armies come against Jerusalem with their missile and rocket launchers and their armoured divisions the LORD will step up to the plate and hit those missiles hard turning them aside. His angels will also be at work doing the same thing. Israel will be saved and Jerusalem made secure. The very breath of the roar that comes from the mouth of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah will destroy those armies. At the command of the Lord Jesus the armies of heaven, the angels of God, and the righteous nations will go forth and destroy those armies completely. Israel will also fight at Jerusalem! (Zechariah 12:14)
(Vs.6-7) “Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted. For in that day every man shall throw away his idols of silver and his idols of gold—sin, which your own hands have made for yourselves.”
The crisis that will face Israel in the future will bring about Israel’s repentance and they will forsake their idols of materialism, hedonism, love of money, pleasure, religiosity, decadence, immorality and especially the sacrificing of their children to ‘Molech’ on the altars of the abortion clinics in Israel. Even now God is calling His people to repent and the reason He is withholding judgement is that Israelis might have the chance to repent. Remember God gave Israel another 40 years to repent after the Lord Jesus had died and risen again and ascended to His Father in heaven. “The axe was already laid to the root” but God in His mercy extended the golden sceptre to Israel for 40 years more but they would not turn back to Him and when 70AD arrived it was too late. However, a faithful remnant were spared and escaped from the city and so it will be in Israel when the Antichrist invades the city of Jerusalem. This time the city will not be destroyed but for the sake of the elect saints the city will be delivered from the Antichrist’s power (Daniel 11:43) (Matthew 24:15, 21-22)
(Vss. 8-9) “Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, And his young men shall become forced labour. He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, And his princes shall be afraid of the banner,” Says the Lord, Whose fire is in Zion And whose furnace is in Jerusalem.”
Micah the prophet spoke about this when he wrote; “When the Assyrian comes into our land, And when he treads in our palaces, Then we will raise against him Seven shepherds and eight princely men. They shall waste with the sword the land of Assyria, And the land of Nimrod at its entrances; Thus He shall deliver us from the Assyrian, When he comes into our land And when he treads within our borders.” (Micah 5:5-6) The King of Assyria in the bible is a type of the Antichrist. All the kings of Assyria and Babylon in some way prefigure the Antichrist who will be a Middle-Eastern Potentate in the character of those kings. When the Lord Jesus comes back to the Mount of Olives He will have at His command the armies of heaven, the glorified saints, the remnant of Israel and other righteous nations that will fight alongside Him against Israel’s enemies. Antichrist and his forces will be resisted. God will have raised up “Seven shepherds and eight princely men” to fight and to destroy Antichrist. God will have raised up the fiercest of nations to oppose Antichrist and to bring about his destruction. (Ezekiel 28: 6-10) At the breath or the command of the Lord Jesus these armies will go forth and completely destroy the enemies of Israel.
The Messiah Himself will take the battle to the enemy and their bodies will lay strewn on the mountains of Israel all the way down through the Valley of Jehoshaphat and through Bozrah and into Saudi Arabia the very heart of the Muslim world. It will be the death of Islam! (Isaiah 63:1-6) (Isaiah 34:5-15) (Revelation 19:11-21) (Joel 3: 1-7) (Revelation 14:19-20) The battle standard or banner of the LORD will be clearly seen by the enemy and they will cower in fear even as their swift destruction comes upon them. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah; “…So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard (battle standard or banner) against him.” (Isaiah 59:19)
The fire of the LORD in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem in that day will burn up Israel’s enemies, annihilate the Antichrist and his armies and purify the sons of Levi. As the prophet Malachi declares; “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:2-4)
As the prophet Zechariah also writes; “In that day “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and take them and cook in them. In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 14:20-21)
In that day “His fire will be in Zion And His furnace in Jerusalem!”