Isaiah 28

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 5, 1999


Weíve finished the section known as "Isaiahís Apocalypse" (Is. 24-27), and now move into a section that deals with times a little more current to Isaiahís day. Heís going to be dealing with the coming destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel as well as the problems that are facing Isaiahís own country, the nation of Judah.

:1-4 Judgment for the Northern Kingdom

:1 Ephraim Öwhich are on the head of the fat valleys

Ephraim Ė a name used to describe the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Keep in mind, Isaiah lives in the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

fat valleys Ė the northern part of Israel is a very fertile place.

:2 Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one

This "strong one", the nation of Assyria, will throw those of Ephraim to the ground.

:3 The crown of pride Ö shall be trodden under feet

crown of pride Ė This is the main problem of the Northern Kingdom. Pride. They are too proud to listen to the Lord. They are too proud to have God tell them what to do. The Northern Kingdom of Israel, in particular the city of Samaria, would be destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC.

:4 a fading flower, and as the hasty fruit before the summer

hasty fruit Ė fig trees produce most of their ripe fruit around August, but a few pieces of fruit would ripen around June and were considered a delicacy. Quickly eaten. The beauty of the Northern Kingdom will soon be gone.

:5-6 Promise for the Remnant

:5 Ö a crown of glory, a diadem of beauty, unto the residue

residue Ė remnant, whatís left of those who are serious about following the Lord.


The humble remnant receives.

Keep in mind who God says Heís going to destroy. God would be destroying the proud ones. And whatís left?

Only those who are trusting in the Lord. Only those who are humble.

Itís only those who are humble that will be left to receive all the treasures that Heís about to describe.


Let God be your "crown of glory"

The things that are our "crown of glory" are the things that we take pride in.

When a runner wins first place in an Olympic race, they are awarded with a gold medal. They wear their medal proudly around their neck as a symbol of their victory, as a symbol of the thing that they are so proud of.

Sometimes we take great pride in our accomplishments. We have our little "trophies" that we are so quick to show to others. It makes us feel important to have people go "ooh" and "aah" over our trophies.

Sometimes we take great pride in who we know. I might be a person who likes to let others know that I know certain important people. It makes me feel important to be associated with these people.

God wants us to get our sense of "importance" from the fact that we know Him.

When others are trying to impress us with their accomplishments or the people they know, are we satisfied to say to them, "Well I may not have done some of the things youíve done, but I do know God"?


Let God be your beauty

We can spend so much time being concerned over our outward appearance. Godís desire is that our sense of "beauty" comes from our relationship with Him. Peter writes to the women:

(1 Pet 3:3-4 NKJV) Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; {4} rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

This isnít just an issue with women. Men can spend just as much time in front of the mirror. I donít think we should neglect our health. God has made us stewards of our bodies. But we ought to be more concerned with the issues of our heart than our physical appearance.

:6 a spirit of judgment Ö strength to them that turn the battle

It was those in leadership, kings and judges, who would sit at the gate of the city and make decisions or judgments. They acted as the courts of the day.


God will help you make proper decisions.

judgment Ė mishpat Ė justice, ordinance; decision

Whether we like it or not, we are constantly being called on to make decisions about things. People will present us with situations that we need to decide on. People will tell you stories and you will need to decide whether or not theyíre telling you the truth. You will be faced with choices to make in your life.

Itís the humble that receive wisdom to make proper judgments.


God gives you strength for the battle.

As soon as you step out to serve God in a leadership position, you can count on being attacked by the enemy. But God promises to give us strength.

Itís the humble that receive strength to keep fighting the battle. The humble realize that they have no other source of strength than the Lord.

:7-13 Problems with the "remnant"

:7 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink

strong drink Ė shekar Ė intoxicating drink. NIV & NLT have "beer".

Though God has great things for those who will humble themselves, some of these people would miss out on what God had for them because of their own drunkenness. Theyíll make bad decisions because of their drunkenness.

A Japanese proverb says: "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man."

:9-11 Ö For with stammering lips and another tongue Ö

(Isa 28:9-11 NLT) They say, "Who does the LORD think we are? Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, barely old enough to talk? {10} He tells us everything over and over again, a line at a time, in very simple words!" {11} Since they refuse to listen, God will speak to them through foreign oppressors who speak an unknown language!

These rebellious, drunken leaders didnít like Isaiahís ministry. They thought he was treating them like children. Godís reply is, "If youíre having trouble understanding baby talk, then Iíll just speak to you in an unknown language!" The Hebrew in verse 10 is, "tzau latzau, tzau latzau, qau laqau, qau laquau", sounding like gibberish. This is how the Assyrians would be sounding to the Israelites when they invaded.

Paul quotes this passage in a section where he is teaching on the gift of tongues in order to say that tongues were a kind of "sign". The gift of tongues is a supernaturally given ability to speak in a language that you havenít learned by normal means.

(1 Cor 14:21-23 KJV) In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. {22} Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The purpose of quoting Isaiah was to show how God talked of "speaking" to the stubborn, unbelieving people of Judah through unknown languages, the languages of the Assyrians. When Paul talks of tongues being a "sign", he doesnít mean a "sign" that makes the people believe, heís talking about a "sign" that is simply proof of Godís judgment and rebuke upon these unbelieving people.

Itís Godís way of saying, "If youíre not going to pay attention to Me, then Iíll speak to you in an unintelligible manner!"

{23} If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

If everyone speaks out loud in tongues at the same time, and there is no order to the meeting, and there is no interpretation, the unbelievers will think youíre crazy. Itís their thinking youíre crazy that is the "sign" that they are under judgment.

Because it is a "sign" to the unbeliever doesnít mean we are to abuse tongues in this way. Paul will go on to make it clear that when the church gets together things should be done decently and in order (1Cor. 14:40). Heíll give rules for speaking in tongues, that there should be no more than three people doing it, they should take turns, and there should be interpretation (1Cor. 14:27-28). If there is no interpretation, then tongues should be spoken quietly (1Cor. 14:28).

:14-22 Warning for Jerusalemís rulers

:14 ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem

The Lord clarifies that Heís moved from talking about the judgment on Ephraim, and is now talking to the leaders of the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

:15 for we have made lies our refuge

NAS Ė "we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception."

It could be that Isaiah is speaking of false gods that the people were trusting in rather than trusting in the Lord. But I think thereís a truth here, that some people trust in lies as a way to protect themselves.


Donít hide behind lies.

Itís much safer to just tell the truth.


A pastor was walking down the street when he came upon a group of about a dozen boys, all of them between 10 and 12 years of age. The group surrounded a dog. Concerned lest the boys were hurting the dog, he went over and asked "What are you doing with that dog?" One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So weíve decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog." Of course, the pastor was taken aback. "You boys shouldnít be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Donít you boys know itís a sin to lie," and ending with, "Why, when I was your age, I never told a lie." There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the pastor was beginning to think heíd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, give him the dog."

God wants His people to be telling the truth.

:16 Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

corner stone Ė a corner stone is the stone at the corner of the foundation of a building. Itís considered the most important stone of a building. Itís the stone that the building is built around. If the corner stone is straight and true, the building will be too.

Though God is encouraging the people to trust in Him, the One who was worshipped at the temple in Jerusalem, ultimately this is talking about Jesus. Peter quotes this verse in 1Pet. 2:6, telling us itís Jesus. Paul writes,

(Eph 2:20-22 NLT) We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. {21} We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. {22} Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.


What have you built your life on?

Is your life built on the corner stone of "lies"? Theyíll get blown away. If youíve built your life on Jesus, youíll find His peace. NAS Ė "He who believes in it will not be disturbed". NLT Ė "Whoever believes need never run away again." NIV Ė "the one who trusts will never be dismayed."

:17 Judgment also will I lay to the line Ö the plummet

line/plummet Ė tools to build by. Ways to determine whether or not youíre building straight or not. Standards to measure by. Today we use levels and lasers.

Godís standards are going to be judgment and righteousness. Heís not going to judge you based on how far ahead you got of others at any cost. Heís going to judge you based on whether you did things right or not.

:17 and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies

People who are trusting in falsehood and lies will find their stories swept away.

(Isa 28:17 NLT) ÖYour refuge looks strong, but since it is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, the enemy will come like a flood to sweep it away.

:18 And your covenant with death shall be disannulled

These people claimed (vs. 15) to have made a "covenant with death". Itís as if they thought they could make a deal that would keep them from dying or keep them from the coming judgment of the Assyrians. But God says that Heís canceling their contract.


There is only one way to avoid Godís judgment.

People get the craziest ideas. Some people talk about "making deals with the devil". The devil doesnít have any authority to make a lasting deal with you. If you make a deal with the devil, you will still die and go to hell, along with the devil.

Itís only in trusting in Jesus that we have safety.

(John 3:16-18 KJV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

How could "believing in Jesus" keep me from judgment? Because Heís the One who has paid the price to give us true life.



It was Christmas Eve in Korea. An expectant mother walked through the snow to the home of a missionary friend where she knew she could find help. A short way down the road from the mission house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As the young woman stumbled forward, birth pains overcame her. She realized she could go no farther. She crawled under the bridge. There alone between the trestles she gave birth to a baby boy. She had nothing with her except the heavy padded clothes she was wearing. One by one she removed the pieces of her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son - around and around, like a cumbersome cocoon. Then, finding a discarded piece of burlap, she pulled it over herself, and lay exhausted beside her baby. The next morning the missionary drove across the bridge in her Jeep to take a Christmas basket to a Korean family. On the way back, as she neared the bridge, the Jeep sputtered and died, out of gas. Getting out of the Jeep she started to walk across the bridge, and heard a faint cry beneath her. She crawled under the bridge to investigate. There she found the tiny baby, warm but hungry, and the young mother frozen to death. The missionary took the baby home and cared for him. As the boy grew, he often asked his adopted mother to tell him the story of how she had found him. On Christmas Day, his 12th birthday, he asked the missionary to take him to his mother's grave. Once there he asked her to wait a distance away while he went to pray. The boy stood beside the grave with bowed head, weeping. Then he began to disrobe. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy took off his warm clothing, piece by piece, and laid it on his mother's grave. Surely he won't take off all his clothing, the missionary thought. He'll freeze! But the boy stripped himself of everything, putting all his warm clothing on the grave. He knelt naked and shivering in the snow. As the missionary went to him to help him dress again, she heard him cry out to the mother he never knew: "Were you colder than this for me, my mother?" And he wept bitterly.

When Christ came, He stripped himself of every royal garment and entered into our world of hatred and cold indifference. Why did He do it? Because He saw centuries of broken lives needing a Savior. And then He died of a broken heart. What broke it? The sin of human hearts.

The Bible teaches us that the penalty for our sin is death. And if we are to avoid the consequence of spending eternity in hell, someone must pay the price for us. Thatís why Jesus came. To die a lonely, painful death on a Roman cross. He paid for the debt that our sin brought. And now He offers to us freely His complete forgiveness, if we will only receive His free gift by believing in Him.

:20 For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it

Have you ever had to try sleeping on something that wasnít very comfortable? The picture is a bed thatís too short and covers that arenít big enough to cover you up and keep you warm. This is what itís like when youíre fighting against the Lord.

:21 mount Perazim Ö Gibeon Öhis strange work

Perazim (2Sam. 5:17-21) and Gibeon (Josh. 10:6-14) were places where God gave His people great victory over their enemies. God demonstrated at those battlefields that He was the Ultimate Warrior.

(Isa 28:21 NLT) ÖHe will come to do a strange, unusual thing: He will destroy his own people!

God is the Ultimate Warrior. But instead of having their enemies fight God, these people will find themselves fighting against God. Gulp!

:22 be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong

(Isa 28:22 NIV) Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier Ö

:23-29 The farmerís example

:24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?

(Isa 28:24 NLT) Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he forever cultivating the soil and never planting it?

:25 doth he not cast abroad the fitches

fitches Ė qetsach Ė a little black seed, either dill (NAS) or caraway (NIV). After plowing a field, a farmer then plants his seed.

:27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument Ö

Different types of crops are harvested and processed differently. A farmer knows how to treat each crop.

:28 Bread corn is bruised Ö

(Isa 28:28 NASB) Grain for bread is crushed, Indeed, he does not continue to thresh it forever. Because the wheel of his cart and his horses eventually damage it, He does not thresh it longer.

God knows what each of us needs. He doesnít treat us all the same. He knows just what we need and how to handle us when it comes to discipline.

:29 wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working

We could translate this, "He is surpassing in the advice He gives, He is excellent in the wise success He guides you into"


Pay attention to Godís ideas.

You arenít going to find a better counsellor than the Lord. You arenít going to find someone who is going to give you a better plan for your life, or a better plan for success than the Lord.

:12 this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.


God offers you rest. Will you take it?

You may have all kinds of excuses built up as to why you canít follow Jesus. But you will not find rest anywhere else. You will not find forgiveness anywhere else. You will not find true compassion anywhere else. You will not find eternal life anywhere else. You will not find God anywhere else.