Isaiah 9:8-10:4 is a poem by the Prophet Isaiah warning God’s people of the great calamities which the LORD was sending because of their sin. Israel’s response was to ignore the LORD’s disciplining wrath and grace.
Therefore, Isaiah poetically indicated that the LORD would bring about the downfall of His rebellious people. The poem is structured into four stanzas: 9:8-12; 9:13-17; 9:18-21; and 10:1-4. The poem’s theme is refrained four times (9:12; 9:17; 9:21; 10:4). It is “For all His anger has not turned away, and His hand is stretched out still.”
Today we examine Isaiah 9:8-12 which says, “8 The Lord has sent a word against Jacob, and it will fall on Israel; 9 and all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart: 10 “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.” 11 But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies. 12 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.”
Through His prophets, the LORD warned the northern kingdom of Israel that His judgment was coming upon them because of their sin. The LORD has sent His word. His oracle was an impending woe upon the people of Jacob. It was a judgment that would come. It was to be a judgment that the people would eventually understand, but too late.
What was the people’s response? 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “ if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” However, Israel did not humble itself as a nation. Israel did not pray and seek God’s face. Israel did not turn from its wicked ways. Therefore, God did not forgive their sin and subsequently heal their land.
Rather, Israel’s response was arrogance. To the LORD’s destructive judgment upon the land and their cities, the people responded that they would rebuild bigger and better cities. They believed they would, and could, overcome the judgment of God. How foolish.
God would bring destruction upon Israel through the military might of the Syrians and the Philistines. God would use these evil nations to bring upon Israel His righteous judgment. God would purpose evil to exist and use it for His glory. See Habakkuk.
Why would God chose to do this? Isaiah 9:12 provides the answer. “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.” The One, true God who delivered Israel from Egypt was now extended to strike His own people.
What was true of Israel is true for nations today. God hates sin and will bring judgment down upon unrepentant sin. He does so upon not only individuals but also nations. May we individually, and nationally, repent and return to the God of our salvation.
Soli deo Gloria!