Isaiah 30 – The Utterly Useless Nation

Bible opened to Isaiah 30 with Endangered Species Forest Mint Dark Chocolate on zebra plate

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species forest mint

Today’s PassageIsaiah 30

It’s sort of baffling to recall the Exodus, to remember that Israel were once slaves under the hand of a pharaoh, and then to read in Isaiah that Israel is looking to form an alliance with Egypt. I read chapters like this one and I think, “Is that really a good idea, Israel? Go back to the nation that once enslaved you and subjected you to hard labor? Do you really need God to tell you not to do that?”

Yes, they really need God to tell them not to do that. Except that they do it anyway.

As usual, Isaiah simply acts as the messenger, delivering a message from God. And the message is that Israel isn’t going to listen to God’s message; they’re going to ally with Egypt. Isaiah says, “Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame; Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace” (30:3). He calls Egypt “that unprofitable nation” (30:6) and describes their help as “utterly useless” (30:7). He prophesies, “[T]his sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant” (30:13). Their protection will come crashing down, leaving them with no option but to flee.

But if there’s one pattern I’m seeing throughout Isaiah, it’s the message “It’s gonna get bad before it gets good.” Time and time again, he foretells judgment and hardship, then relief and blessing. And here it’s no different. Isaiah says, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion” (30:18). God is eager to do good things for his people! He wants to protect them from useless protectors, to the point where he gives them warnings even when he knows his warnings will be ignored.

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