Isaiah 9:8-10:4 is a poem by the Prophet Isaiah warning God’s people of the great calamities which the LORD was about to send because of their sin. Israel’s response was to ignore the LORD’s disciplining 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 9:13-17 which says, “13 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts. 14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day— 15 the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; 16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. 17 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.”
The Scriptures do not shy away from the truth that God is not only the source of blessing but also the ultimate source of trials. Triumphs and trials both come from the LORD: either directly or indirectly.
There are times that trials are God’s means to test His children’s spiritual endurance (James 1:1-8; I Peter 1:1-9). These difficulties are from the providential hand and purpose of God. Consider the following biblical texts.
Exodus 4:10–14 – “10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” 13 But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” 14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.”
Ecclesiastes 7:13–14 – “13 Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked? 14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
Isaiah 45:1–7 – “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things”.
Lamentations 3:37–38 – “37 Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”
The LORD provided Israel with ample warning concerning their need, and His command, that they repent of their sin and return to the LORD their God. This they refused to do.
Isaiah 9:13 says, “13 The people did not turn to him who struck them, nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.” The biblical text does not refute the idea that God’s providential and sovereign will and judgment was behind Syria’s and Philistia’s invasion of the northern kingdom of Israel. It would be the same for the southern kingdom of Judah in 605 B.C. (2 Chronicles 36).
Therefore, Isaiah 9:14-15 says, “14 So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day— 15 the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail.” From top to bottom, from the elders of the land to the prophets who spoke lies to the people, God judged the entire nation. The symbol of head and tail represents the civil and religious leadership of Israel.
However, God’s judgment is not just reserved for the civil and religious leaders. Isaiah 9:16-17 says, “16 for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. 17 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.”
Not even the most helpless in Israel’s society were exempt from the LORD’s wrath. Not even the most helpless members of society will escape God’s judgment.
Once again, what was true for Israel centuries ago is true for nations today. God calls everyone to repent of their sin and turn to Him by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Why? It is because “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”
Soli deo Gloria!