Isaiah: The LORD is Angry and His Hand is Stretched out Still. Part 3.

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 9:18-21 which says, 18 For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke. 19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no one spares another. 20 They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, 21 Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”  

The consequences of man’s wickedness are not only from without but also from within. The wickedness of Israel in the 8th century B.C. is likened by the Prophet Isaiah to a fire. Isaiah 9:18 says, “18 For wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.”  Within the nation, Israel’s own wickedness burns like a fire. It consumes everything.

Additionally, the Lord’s wrath is also compared to a fire. Not only was Israel consumed by its own wickedness, but also by the wrath of God against their wickedness. Isaiah 9:19 says, “19 Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is scorched, and the people are like fuel for the fire.”

However, rather than repent the people of Israel turn on each other. Isaiah 9:19b-21a says, “no one spares another. 20 They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours the flesh of his own arm, 21 Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh; together they are against Judah. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”  

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “The people’s wickedness (cf. v. 17) is pictured as burning them up like a huge fire with a large column of smoke. The judgment would come not only from God (v. 11) and from enemies of the nation (v. 12), but also from within. The nation would destroy itself by its own wicked deeds. People would oppose each other (v. 19), devour each other (v. 20), and even entire tribes will be in conflict (v. 21).”

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Pride, narcissism, and greed destroy the fiber of society, especially the covenant relationship between the tribes. Before the revelation of this oracle, Manasseh fought Ephraim (Judges 12:1-4), and together they battled Judah during the war with Israel and Syria. Sin is self-destructive: as a fire, it consumes the land; as a person, it eats its own arm. Even this, though, does not exhaust God’s wrath against sin.”  

In what ways is this oracle being fulfilled within nations today? God’s people must continue to be faithful to preach repentance and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Why? “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”

Soli deo Gloria!

 

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