Isaiah 31 – The Lord Will Give Victory, Not Egypt
A. The folly of trusting in Egypt.
1. (1) Woe to those who look to Egypt, not the Lord.
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!
a. Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help: Isaiah confronted Judah with two sins: the sin of trusting in Egypt and their military might, and the sin of not looking to the Holy One of Israel. Judah felt they had a reason to trust in chariots (because they are many). Judah felt they had a reason to trust in horsemen (because they are very strong). But they couldn’t seem to find a reason to trust in the Lord.
i. “They did not, of course, abandon faith per se. Everybody lives by faith. It is part of the human condition. Financiers trust market forces, militarists trust bombs, scientists trust nature’s regularities. Jerusalem’s leaders trusted Egypt.” (Motyer)
b. Nor seek the Lord: How much better it is to have the heart of the Psalmist in Psalm 20:7: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. And our trust should only be in the Lord.
i. “He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot upon a quicksand, will sink and perish as certainly as he that stands with both feet on a quicksand.” (Trapp)
2. (2-3) The Lord is mightier than the Egyptians.
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.
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.
a. Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster: Though Judah couldn’t seem to find a reason to trust God, the reasons were there, and Isaiah called them to remember the reasons. They should trust God more than the Egyptians or their armies because He also is wise and will bring disaster…He will arise against the house of evildoers.
b. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses are flesh, and not spirit: Judah was also wrong about their trust in Egypt. The Egyptians and their armies were not as mighty as they seemed to be. All the Lord must do to topple them, along with all who trust in them, was to stretch out His hand.
B. The Lord will defend Judah and Jerusalem.
1. (4-5) The Lord defends Mount Zion.
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.
Like birds flying about,
So will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem.
Defending, He will also deliver it;
Passing over, He will preserve it.”
a. As a lion roars…So the Lord of hosts will come down to fight for Mount Zion: Again, their trust in Egypt for protection against the Assyrian invasion was both foolish and unnecessary. God would protect Mount Zion if Judah trusted Him or not.
b. Like birds flying about, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem: The picture is of a mother bird protecting her young. So, God will defend Jerusalem with the ferocity of a lion, and also with the tender care of a bird. The combination of the two images is powerful.
i. “As birds flying; which come from above, and so cannot be kept off; which fly swiftly and engage themselves valiantly and resolutely, when they perceive that their young ones are in eminent danger.” (Poole)
ii. “The Lord of Hosts will be strong as the lion that growls over his prey…and He will be sweet and soft and gentle as a mother-bird.” (Meyer)
2. (6-9) An invitation to repent to the God who will deliver.
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.
“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 labor.
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.
a. Return to Him: Because of how great God is, because of how terrible the alternatives to serving Him are, we should feel compelled to return to Him. Repentance means turning towards God, and away from anything we have put in God’s place (idols of silver and idols of gold–sin, which your own hands have made).
b. Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man: This was fulfilled exactly. The Assyrian army devastated almost the entire land of Judah, and camped on the outskirts of Jerusalem, waiting to conquer the nation by defeating the capital city. But 2 Kings 19:35 describes how God simply sent the angel of the Lord and killed 185,000 Assyrians in one night. When the people woke up, there were 185,000 dead Assyrian soldiers. It was a victory that had nothing to do with the sword…of man. God was more than able to protect Judah and Jerusalem.
(c) 2021 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org