Isaiah’s Time of Trouble

Isaiah 31 begins by reinforcing the fact that Egypt cannot be trusted to save Israel.  Their men are not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit.  They cannot defeat the Lord.  Instead, the Lord will protect His people in their time of trouble.

There is a call to repentance here that is as applicable now as it was in Isaiah’s time.  Isaiah 31:6 begs, “Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.”

Although a time of trouble was prophesied, Isaiah 31 repeats the constant theme of Isaiah by saying that Assyria will not fall by the hands of men but by the hands of the Lord.  Even though this referred to the past, it is applicable to the future.  This is why Isaiah 32 starts telling us that a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule with justice.  God’s people will be protected and provided for.  This is a reference to the millennial reign of the Messiah.

Over the centuries, the eyes of men have been spiritually dim and their ears have been spiritually deaf.  Their hearts can’t fully comprehend knowledge and they can’t speak without stammering.  As the time of Messiah’s reign draws closer, the eyes and ears of men are being opened.  Those who are searching for truth are finding it.  People are beginning to understand knowledge and are boldly proclaiming it.  More people are coming out of pagan Christianity and becoming Torah observant — not only one by one but also in groups!

The hearts of men will be changed under Messiah’s rulership.  Oh, how I long for that time!  Those who are foolish will be seen for what they really are.  Even now they are seen as generous despite the fact that they practice ungodliness.  Some speak against the Lord and deny food for the hungry and drink for those who are thirsty.  The Lord sees that there are those who devise wicked plans.

It seems as if the Lord is showing us in Isaiah that even during Messiah’s reign, there will be some level of lawlessness.  This goes against the teaching of the Christian church.  Can this be true?  I believe so.  For now, I think it’s important for us to understand that not every evil person on the earth is going to be destroyed when Christ returns.  Those who come to fight in the battle of Armageddon will be destroyed but there will still be lawful and lawless survivors throughout the earth.  For many, the millennial reign of Messiah is the final teaching and sifting period before the final judgment at the great white throne.

Isaiah 32 shifts to the past to address complacent women.  The prophet warned them that the grape harvest would be choked out by briars and thorns because the palaces would be forsaken and the city would be deserted.  The prophet said forts and towers would become wastelands for a long time until the Spirit is poured out on them.  At that time, they would become fertile fields.  Over the centuries, there have been times in Israel where the land did not produce but when in the hands of its rightful owners it has produced abundantly.  Just think of the incredible amount of food that will be produced when Messiah reigns in Jerusalem!  At that time, justice and righteousness will prevail and result in tranquility and security forever.

Before times of abundance, peace, and security come, times of destruction must come.  In the past, Assyria brought destruction.  In the future, the beast of Revelation and his armies will come and cause destruction. 

To understand the future, we must understand the past.  In 2 Kings 18-19, Hezekiah paid tribute to Sennacherib by giving him the gold from the doors and pillars of the temple in order to obtain peace.  This lasted for an unspecified number of years but at some point, the king of Assyria broke his treaty by sending his men with an army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah to extract a pledge from him.  These men threatened to destroy Jerusalem and to exile God’s people.  Hezekiah repented; he pled for mercy and deliverance from the day of trouble.

In the future, the prince of the people to come will make a treaty or covenant with God’s people [or simply strengthen (gabar) a preexisting covenant] for seven years.  This is most likely an offer of peace veiled in deception.  This seven year period is known as the 70th week (shavuah = 7 years) of Daniel (Daniel 9:27).  The latter half of the 70th week of Daniel is mentioned in Jeremiah 30:7 and is known as “Jacob’s trouble.” The “prince that is to come” will put an end to sacrifices and offerings in the middle of this shavuah.  I think it’s safe to say he will threaten to destroy Jerusalem and kill or exile God’s people so he can have Jerusalem for himself.  Scripture clearly teaches us that the desolator will exalt himself until the Lord pours out destruction on him. 

Now, let’s get back to Isaiah 32.  As I mentioned earlier, the prophet foretold of a time when the surrounding lands would suffer from devastation.  The palace would be abandoned; the land would produce thorns and briars; and the forts and towers would become wastelands.  Second Kings 19:23-24 infers this devastation was caused by Sennacherib’s men.  They cut down trees; dug and drank strange water; and dried up the brooks of defense. 

At this point in Isaiah, the Lord said He would arise and exalt Himself and force the wicked to acknowledge His strength.  The ungodly were afraid of the eternal burning which we call hell.  The prophet said the righteous would live securely with plenty of provisions; see the king in his beauty; and gaze on a land stretching into the distance.

I believe this is a description of the future more than it was of the past.  In the future, people will be begging the Lord to show them mercy and save them from the time of trouble like He did in the past.  Eventually, the Lord will respond and answer their prayers.  Never forget that even though it seems as if the prophet spoke of the past, he was also speaking of the future to us.  When that time comes, Israel’s enemies will see the Lord and fear the fires of hell.  When the Battle of Armageddon is over, I assure you, we will live securely.  We will be in awe of the Lord as we see the King in His beauty and majesty. The spoil of war will be so great that everyone will have a part of it.  Those living in the land will have their sins forgiven and not be ill.  The Lord will provide for our needs and protect us when the armies of Gog surround Jerusalem at the end of the millennial reign of the Messiah. 

As we wait for that time to come, we must study God’s word.  We must overcome translational biases, and understand the cultural and historical background of the Scripture.  We must learn how to walk out the commands of Scripture in order to be faithful to our Bridegroom.  We must pray for our deliverance and that of God’s people.

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