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 10:1-4 which says, “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, 2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! 3 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? 4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”
Galatians 6:7-8 says, “7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
The principle of retribution is an important biblical doctrine. People reap what they sow. Or in other words, what goes around comes around. Such is the truth which Isaiah the prophet heralds in Isaiah 10:1-4.
Injustice by Israel’s leaders upon their own people was prevalent in the 8th century B.C. Isaiah 10:1-2 says, “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, 2 to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!”
God would bring appropriate judgment upon Israel and its leaders. Those who profited from injustice upon their fellow countrymen would now suffer injustice from foreigners. There would be no help for them. God’s justice would not be denied. “3 What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? 4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain.”
Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The corrupt leaders in Israel were perverting the cause of justice and righteousness, in contrast with the Messiah’s justice and righteousness (9:6–7). So Isaiah pronounced woe (see comments on 3:9) on those people. The readers should have realized that this woe would befall them if they followed their leaders’ wicked ways. Israel’s leaders were guilty of six things: They were (a) making unjust laws and (b) issuing oppressive decrees. These actions were repulsive because the Israelites were supposed to care for each other as members of God’s people redeemed from Egyptian slavery by their God. Also they were (c) depriving the poor (dal, “feeble, weak, helpless”) of their rights, (d) taking away justice, (e) hurting widows, and (f) robbing the fatherless. These actions, which involved taking advantage of people who could not defend their rights, violated God’s Law (Ex. 22:22; 23:6; Deut. 15:7–8; 24:17–18; cf. Isa. 1:17). Because of this behavior, the nation would go into captivity (10:3–4). In disaster … from afar (i.e., from Assyria) no one would help them, as they had refused to help those in need. In anger God’s judgment would fall (see comments on 9:12).”
Do you see injustice? Is there anything you can do in order to combat injustice when, and where, you encounter it? Ask the Lord for wisdom in to discern what you can do to help those who have been wronged.
Soli deo Gloria!