Warning Against Alliance with Egypt

30:1 to 31:9

    Isaiah has been talking about two covenants. One is a far eschatological covenant made with the antichrist, bringing a worldwide devastation, and secondly a near historical covenant made with Egypt that will bring about the local devastation brought about by Assyria’s invasion in Chapters 37 and 38. Here, in Chapters 30 and 31, Hezekiah made his one key lapse of faith and opted to go against the Word of God spoken by the prophet Isaiah. He made an alliance with Egypt thinking it would ward off the Assyrian threat.

    In the Near East, the importance of shade cannot be overemphasized. In many cases, shade from the searing rays of the sun is the difference between life and death. The sun is so direct and so hot that a person can become seriously dehydrated before he or she is aware of danger. So certain Psalms refer to ADONAI as the One who offers protection under His shade or shadow. The shadow may be cast by His outstretched wings (Psalm 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 63:7), a symbol of protection as the parent bird shelters the chicks. But on two occasions God Himself casts the shadow in which the believer rests. He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon, the Most High God, will rest in the shadow of the Shaddai (Psalm 91:1). And ADONAI watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night (Psalm 121:5-6).

    God’s shade is an important figure for Isaiah, and we can understand why, with his emphasis on trust. To him it is almost unimaginable that the people of Judah would exchange the shadow of Shaddai for that of a human being. How can they choose to look to Pharaoh for the protection only the LORD can give? Yet, we are prone to do the same thing. Of course it is appropriate to place a certain degree of trust in other humans. We trust our spouse, we trust our employer (sometimes), we trust our pastor or rabbi in a messianic synagogue. But if those are the ultimate places where we seek shelter from the world, to the point that we exclude ADONAI from the picture, we are in for a terrible disappointment, for even the best of humans will fail us.

    They will fail us especially if we put them in the place of the LORD in our lives. Any time we expect humans to give us what only God can, we are setting them up for failure and ourselves up for disappointment, because we are asking too much of them. By contrast, if we have come to the place where ADONAI is genuinely the shelter under which we live, we will not be crushed when humans fail us. Because we, living under the protection of the LORD, will be able to be more trustworthy, many of our human relations will be also. But we must have the order right: God first, all others second.100

    The entire account of the warning against an alliance with Egypt to ward off the Assyrian threat follows a parallel structure where the first letter is parallel to the second letter, and so on, with C being the turning point.

A Third Woe: Near Historical Prophecy Against Any Alliance with Egypt (30:1-7)

       B Near Historical Prophecy Against the Nation of Assyria (30:8-17)

             C Far Eschatological Prophecy of Blessing Upon Israel (30:18-26)

       B Near Historical Prophecy Against the Nation of Assyria (30:27-33)

A Fourth Woe: Near Historical Prophecy Against Going Down to Egypt (30:1 to 31:9)

 

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