April 11, 2011


His Anger Does Not Turn (Peter J. Leithart, 10 April 2011, Credenda)

Four times in Isaiah 9-10, the Lord repeats that same threat: “In spite of all this His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out.” And then again, “In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out.” And then again, and then again (9:12, 17, 21; 10:4). He has tried everything to bring Israel back. He has brought afflictions, and then new afflictions, and still Israel and Judah do not turn.

He sends out a word, a word of judgment, and the judgment falls on Jacob. The word of Yahweh that falls on Samaria causes things to fall down, specifically things that are made of bricks and sycamore. The men of Babel used bricks to construct their city and tower, and the Egyptians used bricks to build their storage cities and pyramids, and put the Hebrews to work making bricks for these projects. Now, the people of Samaria have become like the men of Babel and like the Egyptians, building in rebellion against Yahweh. The only other time Isaiah refers to bricks, he is talking about brick altars (65:11), and so it’s possible that this is what he has in view here. The word of the Lord falls on Samaria, and when the word falls, the brick altars and the wooden shrines of the northern kingdom collapse.

But that does not stop the rebellion of the North. Instead, they remain proud and determined to have their idolatrous shrines and altars. If Yahweh knocks them down, then the proud people of Samaria are going to build up their altars again, but this time with cut and polished stone, build them better than they had been, stronger and with more precious materials. If the Lord knocks down their shrines, they are going to rebuild, and this time not with cheap sycamore but with more expensive cedar.

Yahweh is going to raise up adversaries and enemies against the people of the North, as He did against Solomon when Solomon built idolatrous shrines for his many wives. The Lord is going to add to the afflictions of Samaria by opening the jaws of the Philistines and the Arameans. The two nations on the east and west are going to form a large set of jaws, a gaping maw that is going to swallow down Samaria.

Still, Samaria does not turn, and therefore, the Lord’s hand, the hand that brought afflictions and plagues to Egypt, is still stretched out against them.

So the Lord tries a different tack.

Posted by at April 11, 2011 6:18 AM

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