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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.

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Isaiah 9:8 – 10:4 The Upraised Hand

2/25/01e D. Marion Clark

Introduction

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

for all the proud and lofty,

for all that is exalted

(and they will be humbled),

13 for all the cedars of Lebanon, tall and lofty,

and all the oaks of Bashan,

14 for all the towering mountains

and all the high hills,

15 for every lofty tower

and every fortified wall,

16 for every trading ship

and every stately vessel (2:12-16).

At least those folks appeared to have something to boast about. Israel is in a state of disgrace.

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.”

Do we have a reality problem here? They used to be great. They have fallen and they have missed the whole reason for their downfall. It had occurred because of their arrogance and rebellion against God. They just don’t get it. They are like the lightweight amateur boxer who has been knocked down by the heavyweight champion. He jumps back up and says, “Now I’ve got him where I want him.” He says it just before he is pounded to the floor.

One comparison I would make to today is the liberal church that has taken blow after blow. It is declining in numbers and in influence. It is at best humored by the secular world which it so much desires to be acclaimed by. Again and again we hear them saying how they will rebuild and be respected again, not by returning to the God of the Bible, but creating new theologies and wedding themselves to other religions. Don’t they see that the more they try to rebuild themselves by their own power, that they will continually bring judgment upon themselves?

Even so, God’s hand is still raised against Israel.

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