Line Upon Line, Line Upon Line

Isaiah 28

This chapter details well why those who are Ephraim should avoid strong drinks. Given long before the word of wisdom, Isaiah taught that destruction was to come upon the drunkards of Ephraim.

As I conclude my study this morning, I pray that I may be able to find the personal application of such verses, and not attribute these teaching to another.

My initial response to these verses was quite literal, and more of a check-list, dismissive consideration only. But I’ve returned to this again this morning trying to assess personally if I do not fall into the category of being among the “drunkards in Ephraim”.

Isaiah paints a picture of two crowns: One is a crown of pride placed on the head of those who are over beautiful, fruitful valleys, who prematurely consume their fruit even before the main growing season has happened; the other is a crown of glory which is representative of the Savior, given to his people as something of beauty, judgment, and strength.

This very last point has an additional note: the Savior shall be given “and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.” (vs. 6) Those are the words of Isaiah. What is the gate?

For me, the battle at the gate is on the home front.

Verses 7 and 8 are perhaps the strongest pronouncement against the vice of “strong drink” in all of holy writ. Isaiah is justified in observing its devastating effects. He calls out prophets and priests alike that are overcome with strong drink. He points out that they are lacking in vision and removed from judgment because of it.

Isaiah also illustrates here how the Lord teaches. Understanding the Lord’s pattern of instruction is so important: “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little;”

This is why routine church meetings and conferences, daily study sessions, and constant care must be given to obtaining the word of God. No one goes from a little knowledge to all in a day. It is impossible. Just as a seed doesn’t produce fruit in a day. It is impossible.

Isaiah’s wording is so fascinating to me. Sometimes he explains things in negative statements. Sometimes he articulates principles, commandments, and admonitions with layered meaning. For example, in verse 16 and 17, there is a testimony of Christ. No where does Isaiah say “Christ is the sure foundation.” No, in fact, his statements are dressed in context.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.

Verse 16

There is a constant theme throughout this chapter of an overwhelming scourge or consummation. So even here in this testimony of Christ, Isaiah is connecting the two. The context give the testimony richer meaning. If we believe in Christ, one of the blessings for our faith is that we will not make haste. What does that mean? Is it not in reference to the decreed consummation. Our faith in Christ will keep us from being taken by surprise. We will be prepared. From Isaiah’s perspective, food storage,72 hour kits, and emergency preparedness are a direct expression of our faith in Christ.

The wicked will attempt to protect themselves from this “overflowing scourge” (vs. 15) by creating a refuge (a shelter or place of protection) of lies. Isaiah warns that even those who think to outsmart the Lord against the foretold destruction will also be taken by flood and hailstorms. (vs. 17)

Verse 22 is where Isaiah states again plainly (this isn’t the first time that we have heard this theme) that there will be “a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth.”

This chapter ends with strong parallels between gardening and how the Lord deals with his children of the House of Israel. It has always seemed strange to me how the Lord focused his covenants on one people. But now as I am considerin g it, learning that a garden must be tended and cultivated to produce desirable fruit, it makes a lot of sense. The gardener must pick a spot of ground to cultivate. He does not cultivate the whole yard.

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