Summary: God does not lower his hand saying that he will try to be more understanding. He lowers his hand against us because he raises it against his Son Jesus Christ, who gladly receives it for our redemption.
Isaiah 9:8 – 10:4 The Upraised Hand
2/25/01e D. Marion Clark
The passages about the Messiah and his kingdom are refreshing. They lift our spirits as we think about the glory of our Redeemer and that redemption he brings. But as much as we like, we are continually brought back to the way things are. Isaiah, we are reminded, addresses a nation steeped in sin and about to get worse.
Our passage is yet another example of Isaiah’s brilliance as a writer. This particular passage would have thrilled Edgar Allen Poe who also knew how to employ repetition for dramatic effect. Who doesn’t know the line, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore!’”? Isaiah’s dramatic refrain is Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
The refrain is spoken four times and neatly breaks up our passage into four portions.
Attack from Outside Enemies 9:8-12
Pride and Arrogance
8 The Lord has sent a message against Jacob;
it will fall on Israel.
9 All the people will know it—
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—
who say with pride
and arrogance of heart,
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
but we will rebuild with dressed stone;
the fig trees have been felled,
but we will replace them with cedars.”
11 But the LORD has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them
and has spurred their enemies on.
12 Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west
have devoured Israel with open mouth.
Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
his hand is still upraised.
Let’s start by identifying all the names in the first five verses. Israel, in this passage, seems to be the northern kingdom. Isaiah is prophesying against that nation. Jacob, as you would know, was the patriarch given the name Israel after wrestling with God. Ephraim is a territory in Israel and Samaria the nation’s capital. All four names are serving as synonyms for the same nation. Isaiah’s poetic nature is coming out.
Who is Rezin? He was the king of Aram of which Damascus was the capital. Aram was the northeast neighbor of Israel. Recall back in chapter 7 how Israel and Aram formed an alliance against Assyria and which also turned on Judah. Rezin’s foes probably refers to Assyria primarily. The Arameans are Syrians from the east. We are familiar with the Philistines, the ancient enemies of Judah and Israel. They lived along the coast beside Judah. These enemies are going to “devour” Israel. They are not going to be partially successful or limit their attacks. They will go throughout Israel ravaging the land.
As Isaiah has indicated before, God is behind these attacks or at least their success. Why? Pride. The people are still filled with pride and arrogance, boasting how they of their own power will rebuild their nation. This is particularly galling because of the condition they are in. Back in chapter 2 God had condemned the arrogant who were conceited by their evident power and accomplishments.
12 The LORD Almighty has a day in store