What does it say?
Isaiah 28 carries us back to the time before Israel is actually destroyed by Assyria. Though we are not certain of the exact time, whether during the reign of Ahab or the beginning of Hezekiah’s, the nature of the prophecy is parallel to that of Micah. This section is sometimes called the “Book of Woes” (28-33) from the oft-repeated word, as the opening four verses point to the destruction of Israel by Assyria, and the rest of the chapter is God’s promise of a remnant to be preserved in Judah. Woe is both a lament and a threat of what is coming. It implies both emotion and sympathy.
The woe in Isaiah 29 is against Ariel, a pseudonym for Jerusalem. The focus of Isaiah 28 was Israel, while Judah is the sole focus of this chapter. The opening verses speak of a siege, probably the one by Assyria from which God delivered Jerusalem. From verse seven onward, God proclaims that he will blind Judah to the meaning of his words due to their hypocrisy.
Isaiah 30 is a woe against Judah for trusting Egypt to protect them from Assyria. God informs them that their treaty with Egypt is worthless and that their refusal to obey his words is a deadly mistake. This human unfaithfulness contrasts with the promise of God’s faithfulness in the rest of the chapter. Ultimately, God will accomplish his purposes in his people for the glory of his name. He also declares that Assyrian is no real threat at all.
What does it mean?
Most Bible scholars see Isaiah 28:16 as a Messianic prophecy. Compare it to Psalm 118:22 and Daniel 2:45.
God used Assyria to bring judgment upon idolatrous Israel. Judah and Jerusalem also faced the threat of Assyrian attack. Rather than trust God, they plotted and schemed and entered into a defense alliance with Egypt. Their refusal to confide in God’s word blinded them to his truth. Isaiah 29 is a great statement about the consequences of refusing to hear God’s word. Isaiah 30 deals with human sin and infidelity, yet still proclaims that God’s name will be lifted up and glorified in the end and that his mission will be fulfilled.
How will I respond?
Am I trusting in something other than God to meet a need? God can and will use people, circumstances and things to do his will, but ultimately my trust is to be in him. Do I really listen to God’s word? I am reading it and learning it, but what is a specific way I can apply God’s word to need in my life today?