Text: Isaiah 31
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be, “Going Down to Egypt.” Why did God’s people in Judah seek help from Egypt, who defied the God of heaven?
Why does today’s church and why do today’s believers seek help from man’s wisdom and man’s ways, and why do they seek help from the world system that defies God? It is an issue of the heart. Through Isaiah’s prophecy, the LORD will show you Judah’s heart, and I will show you your own heart.
Verse 1 —
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, instead of seeking the LORD for His help! “Woe” is a lamentation, a weeping. Isaiah sees what the LORD will do with Judah, who ultimately fled to Egypt to escape the Babylonian invasion (Jeremiah 43:4 and forward)!
Judah has seen the LORD’s strength and His trustworthiness. He has rescued them multiple times, even from the Assyrians, when they tried to overrun Jerusalem —
2Kings 19:32 ‘Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, “He will not come to this city or shoot an arrow there; and he will not come before it with a shield or throw up a siege ramp against it. 33 “By the way that he came, by the same he will return, and he shall not come to this city,”’ declares the LORD. 34 ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”
2Kings 19:35 Then it happened that night that the angel of the LORD went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.
So, considering all that history, why does Judah rely on Egypt for help, instead of seeking the LORD’s help? Why does Judah rely on Egypt’s horses instead of relying on the LORD? Why does Judah trust in (go quickly to) Egypt’s chariots and Egypt’s cavalry, instead of going quickly to the LORD?
It is because Judah is far from the LORD. His people are sinning against Him by worshiping false gods who are nothingness and nothing —
Psalm 115:4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.
So, they are sinning, and their sin has made a separation between Him and them (Isaiah 59:1-2). That is His judgment upon His people who sin, then and now.
They have not repented because they love their sin. But as I taught last time, He longs to be gracious! At the sound of their cry of repentance, He will answer.
But Judah is not looking to the Holy One of Israel, who will do what He promises if they will repent! They do not seek the LORD! They do not want to repent. Instead, they add sin to sin by trusting in Egypt, its horses, its many chariots, and its strong cavalry.
Just as Judah would be overrun by Babylon 150 years from Isaiah’s prophecies to her, today’s church is being overrun by Satan the deceiver, and the world system that defies God. Why? They have opened their doors wide to the world system, in order to keep their doors open! The church is full of sinning believers and leaders. They mock those He sends to exhort them to repent, and warn them of the consequences of their sin! It was the same with Isaiah, Jeremiah, and all of the Lord’s prophets!
In today’s church, sin is celebrated and sinners are elevated to high positions, just as with Judah. Therefore, entire denominations and many sinning believers are separated from the Lord by the sin they have chosen to do, just as with Judah.
And just as with Judah, today’s church adds sin to sin by seeking help from man’s ways and man’s wisdom and trusting in and following the ways of the world system that defies God!
Why do they resort to man and the world? Just like Judah, it is because they are sinning, and sin separates them from the Lord! They do not see that they are being overrun. They do not see that His anger has set them aflame —
Isaiah 42:25 So He poured out on him (Israel) the heat of His anger and the fierceness of battle; and it set him aflame all around, yet he did not recognize it; and it burned him, but he paid no attention.
The Lord longs to be gracious to the church, and to His people Israel, but He has not heard a cry of repentance from them. Therefore, they are being, and will yet be, overrun by the world system in which they have chosen to trust.
Verse 2 —
Judah’s leaders think they are wise to seek help from Egypt. Today’s church leaders are wise in their own eyes, and have decided it is wise to seek help from man and follow the ways of the world system that defies God!
But the LORD is also wise — far wiser than Judah and today’s church! As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9)!
And He does not retract (leave undone) His words. He has warned them that they will perish if they go down to Egypt to try to escape Babylon (Jeremiah 42:22). Because they have refused to listen, they will perish! He will arise against the house of evildoers — the house of Judah who rebels against Him!
And He will also rise against the Egyptians to whom they have gone for help. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, will overrun Egypt and all the people of Judah will perish with the Egyptians (Jeremiah 44:12)!
Jesus Christ has told sinning believers that unless they repent, He will erase their names from the book of life (Revelation 3:5)! So indeed, He will erase their names! He will not leave His warning undone, if they refuse to repent.
To all the sinning believers in the church who say, “Lord, Lord,” Jesus Christ will say, “I never (never ever) knew you. Depart from Me, you who do evil!” (See Matthew 7:23.)
He will also arise against all that the church has trusted in and relied upon. For those who do not repent, their end will be the lake of fire, for their names will be erased from the book of life (see Revelation 20:15)!
Verse 3 —
The Egyptians are men and not God. Their horses are flesh and not spirit. Man’s wisdom and ways are from man and not God. Man’s strength is in his flesh only. God’s strength is Spirit and life!
Judah trusts man instead of God, and horses for strength instead of the LORD, who has defeated enemies on their behalf for all of their history! Why? Their sin has separated them from their God! He will not hear their prayers, except if they pray a prayer of true repentance and cry out for mercy! He will hear that prayer!
The church trusts in man’s ways and wisdom, in order to draw people to the church. But these techniques are from men and women, not from God.
The church trusts in the strength of the world system that defies God but seems so successful. They join hands with it. But the world system is not God. They can only be saved by God, not by men, and not by the world!
Because Judah and today’s church have defied Him, the LORD will stretch out His hand to discipline and punish them. Men of the world, whom they have sought for help, will stumble. Judah and the church, who have sought man’s help, will fall. And all of them will come to an end together. They will perish!
O church, O believer, hear the warning of the consequences of your sin!
Verses 4-5 —
For thus says the LORD to Isaiah — A young lion growls (roars) over his prey. A multitude of false shepherds is called forth to save the prey from the young lion.
But the young lion is not terrified at their voice nor disturbed at their noise. It will be the same when the LORD of hosts! The Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) will come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill!
Yet, if Judah repents, He will protect Jerusalem like birds who swoop around their nest in order to drive off predators and protect their young. He will protect and deliver, He will pass over it and rescue it! He will do the same for the church, if she will repent!
Verse 6 —
Therefore repent! Isaiah cries, Return to Him from whom you, the sons of Israel, have so deeply (profoundly) defected (turned away, rebelled against) — first northern Israel, and now Judah! O apostate church, O sinning believer, you have deeply defected from the Lord! Repent!
Verse 7 —
Why should you repent immediately, Judah? Because He will receive you! Cast away your idols now, which your sinful hands have made for you as a sin!
O church! cast away the idol of self (man’s wisdom, man’s ways,) which you have made, cast away the false Jesus you have created, cast away the world system which defies God and cannot save you!
But if you do not repent, O Judah, here is what will happen in your day of judgment: You will surely stand before the Judge, Jesus Christ, and you will surely cast away your silver idols and your gold idols when you see Him. But it will be too late!
Why should you repent immediately, O church? If you don’t, you surely will stand before Jesus Christ on the day of the Lord, and when you see Him, you surely will cast away all of your trust in man and the world system. But it will be too late!
Verse 8 —
The king of Assyria fell by the sword of his sons (1Kings 19:37). But a sword not of man will kill the Assyrian in this prophecy. So, I see that the “Assyrian” represents Satan.
In the day of judgment, at the end of things, the Assyrian (Satan) will fall by a sword not of man. A sword not of man will devour him.
Because it is the sword of the Lord and not a sword of man, Satan will not escape (literally, he will be unable to flee) the sword. He will join his children, and the false prophet, and the antichrist, in the lake of fire.
Verse 9 —
Satan’s stronghold (fortress) will pass away into thin air. He will be afraid! And his captains, his demons, will be terrified at the sign of Satan’s demise! The LORD declares it, so it will surely happen!
The LORD’s fire is in Zion and His furnace is in Jerusalem. Surely, earthly Zion and Jerusalem were restored after 70 years of captivity in Babylon.
But His true fire and His true furnace (both symbols of His judgment) are in the heavenly Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem. The earthly Zion and the earthly Jerusalem are only a copy of the heavenly originals.
Believer, do not think you can hide your sin from God. Do not think you can deceive the Lord! He knows every thought you think, and every sin that you do. Repent, while it is still today! O church, stop relying on man, whose breath is in his nostrils, for why should he be esteemed (Isaiah 2:22)?
Lord, may Your church and Your people Israel hear Your words from this passage of scripture, and repent immediately. So be it. Amen.