Your Covenant of Death Will Be Annulled

28: 14-29

    DIG: Isaiah now applies the lesson of Ephraim rejecting God’s rest to Judah. What is their covenant with death? In contrast to lies and falsehood, what is the sure foundation of God’s kingdom? What promise is given to those who will trust in that cornerstone? What is the warning given to those who do not? How will their covenant prove too short? What was God’s work at Mount Perazim and in the Valley of Gibeon (see First Chronicles 14:8-11; Joshua 10:10f)? What is the point of the two farming parables?

    REFLECT: In what dead-end covenant (money, relationships, power, etc.) do people today try to find refuge? From what overwhelming scourge (poverty, loneliness, insecurity) are they hiding? What is the good news for them in this passage? What is the accompanying warning? What would it take for you to learn to trust God as your resting place instead of these things? What use has the New Covenant made of 28:16 (see First Corinthians 3:11 and First Peter 2:4-8)? What are some of the implications of saying that Jesus is the foundation stone for your life? How will you determine that in a practical way this week?

    The previous section (28:1-13) was merely introductory, showing the root cause of Judah’s decision to reject Isaiah and make a covenant with Egypt. The leaders of Judah, like the leaders of Israel, were drunk with wine, being both spiritually and morally bankrupt, they aligned themselves with the world (First John 2:15-17) rather than with God. Isaiah declared that ADONAI would eventually bring about the Assyrian invasion of Judah. This is the introduction of the entire section of Chapters 29 to 35.

    This section deals with the third purpose of the Great Tribulation, which is the far eschatological covenant with the antichrist that will break the power of the holy people (Daniel 12:7b; Ezekiel 20:34-38). We can be confident of that interpretation because four times Isaiah uses the names: overwhelming scourge, His strange work and His alien task, which are merely different names for the Great Tribulation, in this section. Daniel tells us in Daniel 9:27 that the one act that begins the last seven years of the 490 year cycle (decreed about the Jewish people beginning in Daniel 9:24) was a covenant made with the antichrist. In Daniel 9:27, the covenant is made with many Jews (including the Jewish leadership), but not all Jews because there is still a believing remnant that does not go along with it. The covenant will be broken in the middle of it, resulting in devastation to the Jewish nation. With that background, look back to Chapter 28 because Isaiah is talking about the same covenant with the same results, but in a more expanded form.

    Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem (28:14). The scoffers, or the leaders of Jerusalem sign this covenant (see my commentary on Revelation Bz – The Signing of the Seven-Year Covenant). They mock at any warning against the signing. The leaders include the many of Daniel 9:27 who enter into this covenant.

    The signing of the covenant is described. You boast, that you have made a covenant with life. But in reality, they should be saying: We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement (28:15). The purpose of the covenant is to gain security and avoid any more military invasions against the land of Israel. So when an overwhelming scourge (one of the names of the Great Tribulation) sweeps by, it will not touch them. But God says they are fools for thinking this way because this is not a covenant of heaven, but of hell. It is not a covenant of life, but a covenant of death. The antichrist will turn on you to kill you.

    So this is what the Adonai ELOHIM says: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation (28:16a)? When the name of ADONAI is compounded, there are two emphases: first, the relationship of God to man, and secondly, the relationship of the LORD to the nation of Israel. The context here is clearly the nation of Israel. But within the nation, the call to salvation is personal. Isaiah reminds those Jews at that time: The one who trusts in the Messiah will never be dismayed (28:16b). This will be a double-edged sword for them. Those who believe will be comforted, but those who refuse to believe will be judged. Is it not the same for us today?

    Isaiah assures us that not every Jew goes along with this evil covenant, because there is a faithful remnant. This remnant’s security is not in a covenant, but is security in a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation. According to Romans 9:33 and First Peter 2:6-8, this stone is Christ. Also in Matthew 16:18 Jesus states that He is the precious cornerstone that the Church would be built upon. And the gates of Hades or the Jewish expression for death, could not overcome it. Clearly, it was upon the truth that Peter had expressed, the deity of Christ, and not upon the weak, vacillating Peter, that the Church would be founded (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Fx – On This Rock I Will Build My Church).

    The Messiah is repeatedly called the Rock. The background for this is that around thirty-four times in the Old Covenant God is called a Rock or Rock of Israel. It was a designation of God. In the Messianic passages, 8:14, 28:16; and Psalm 118:22, Christ is called a Rock or Stone upon which we should believe. These passages are quoted in the New Covenant and for that reason Christ is called a Rock several times. It designates Him as divine. For that reason, every Jew, knowing the Old Covenant, would refuse the designation to Peter or to anyone except ADONAI Himself. He is the Rock. We are the living stones built upon Him. Ephesians 2:20 says this plainly. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Paul says that the Rock from which the Israelites drank was Christ (First Corinthians 10:4).97

    I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line. Even though events will seem out of control to the Jews, ADONAI will still be behind the scenes, orchestrating every event that will result in a believing remnant and His Second Coming. Speaking in righteousness, mighty to save (63:1-6). But in the mean time, hail would sweep away their refuge. The lie of the antichrist will persecute the Jews, symbolized by a flood of water that will overflow their places of hiding (28:17).

    In Daniel 9:27 the covenant was broken and that is the case here. The truth will eventually come out as to the nature of this covenant. Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand (28:18a). It is not of life, but of death. It is not of heaven, but of hell. And here we learn that the covenant with death will be annulled or broken. Half way through the seven years the antichrist will walk into the Most Holy Place of the rebuilt Temple (see my commentary on Revelation Bx – The Tribulation Temple) and declare himself to be God (Daniel 9:27 and 12:11). When this happens the Jews will realize they have been fooled and break the covenant.

    When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it (28:18b). The signing of the covenant is described. The purpose of the covenant is to gain security and avoid any more military invasions against the Land. So when an overwhelming scourge (one of the names of the Great Tribulation) sweeps by, it will not touch them. But God says they are fools for thinking this way because this is not a covenant of heaven, but of hell.

    It is during the second half of the Great Tribulation that the world persecutes the Jews. They flee to Petra, when military invasions will come against the Land. The very thing they hoped would not happen, will happen. When all seems lost they will repent, ask the LORD to come back (see my commentary on Revelation Ev – They Will Look Upon Me, The One They Have Pierced). He does, and initiates the campaign of Armageddon (see Kh – The Eight Stage Campaign of Armageddon). So those who believe in the Messiah will not want to be a part of that covenant.

    The worldly leaders of Judah will enter into the covenant with the antichrist because of security (28:15), but three results of that document will have unintended consequences (28:19-22). All of which point to the fact that there will be insecurity instead of security. First, there will be an invasion. As often as the invasion comes it will carry you away; morning after morning, by day and by night, it will sweep through (28:19a). The steady attack will strike fear into the hearts of the Jews. In addition, there will be a lack of preparedness both militarily and spiritually. The understanding of this message will bring sheer terror. To seek protection from the antichrist would be as futile as lying in a bed that is too short or trying to cover oneself with a blanket that is too narrow. The bed is too short to stretch out on, the blanket too narrow to wrap around you (28:19b-20).

    Secondly, the wrath of God will put pressure on the Jews to choose between Christ and the antichrist . . . Messiah or the anti-messiah. As a result of the making of the covenant with death, Isaiah declared that ADONAI will rise up in judgment against His own people. The opening ki, or for, means to put it simply. For the LORD will rise up just as He did against the Philistines at Mount Perazim (Second Samuel 5:20; First Chronicles 14:11), and He will rouse Himself just as He did against the Canaanites in the Valley of Gibeon (Joshua 10:11). To put it simply, He would fight against His enemies again. But who are God’s enemies? Those who do not obey Him (Psalm 139:19-24). Therefore, God will do His work, His strange work, and perform His task, His alien task (28:21). Of the many names that we have in Scripture for the Great Tribulation (see Eu – The Rapture and the Great Tribulation), here Isaiah gives us two of them. His task will be strange and alien because it will be against His people, not for them. James said it this way: You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (James 4:4).

    Thirdly, this destruction will also be against the whole world. Isaiah continues addressing the Jews: Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier; Adonai ELOHIM of heaven’s angelic armies (CJB), had told me of the destruction decreed against the whole earth (28:22). As I mentioned above, when the name of God is compounded, there are two emphases: first, the relationship of God to man, and secondly, the relationship of God to the nation of Israel. Here, the Holy Spirit has directed Isaiah to talk about the whole earth, so the audience is mankind in general. As a result of the making of the covenant back in 28:14-15, as in Daniel 9:27, a decree of destruction is contained in that seventh sealed scroll of Revelation, Chapters 4 and 5, because when those seven seals are broken, one by one, judgment is poured out against the earth. By the time the Great Tribulation ends, the whole earth is in total chaos and desolation.

    The Great Tribulation begins with the signing of this covenant with the antichrist. Let me reemphasize something. It is not the Rapture that begins the Great Tribulation, but rather the signing of this covenant with the antichrist. The Rapture will come sometime before the Great Tribulation, we do not know when.

    Isaiah then inserted a word of comfort into this message of woe and judgment. He called the leaders of Judah together to tell them two parables. He said to them: Listen and hear My voice; pay attention and hear what I say (28:23). The purpose of these parables is to show the necessity of the coming judgment. But these parables also show why this judgment is going to be tempered with mercy. The LORD is going to use the example of a farmer’s treatment of the land and apply that to God’s wisdom in dealing with Israel.

    The first parable discusses the concept of plowing before planting. When a farmer plows for planting does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? The very fine black cummin is scattered on the ground, whereas the larger seeds are planted in marked rows and plots. Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot? Finally, spelt is planted at the edge of the field, perhaps partly to block the view of the neighbors who might be tempted to steal, or maybe to divide on person’s property from another’s. God instructs him and teaches him the right way (28:24-26). The plowing does not continue forever, because planting eventually follows the painful process of plowing. And that is the case of Judah, who must undergo some painful plowing. It would last for only a short time as it was designed to purge the people. Only then will she be ready for some fruitful planting.

    In the second parable, threshing harshly or lightly is the lesson being taught. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; caraway is beaten out with a rod and cummin with a stick (28:27). Different types of seeds require different types of threshing. Some seeds need to be threshed hard; other seeds need to be threshed softly.

    Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it (28:28). These parables offer a note of hope for the Jews going through the devastation of the Great Depression. Despite their sin, ADONAI will not continue to plow His people under forever, nor will He drive His threshing wagon over them until they are crushed. This threshing will be necessary, but it will not last forever. And so it is with God’s dealing with them during the Great Depression. She will be threshed according to her need. But it will not last forever.

    Therefore, the Jews during the Great Tribulation should submit to ADONAI. All this also comes from the LORD of heaven’s angelic armies (CJB), because He is wonderful in counsel (9:6) and magnificent in wisdom (11:2). Now having been given these two parables that explain, on the one hand, that judgment was necessary, but on the other hand, would be tempered by mercy, the Holy Spirit suddenly directs our attention to the near historical prophecy during Isaiah's ministry.

 

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