And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. — Isaiah 30:21
When I was a junior in high school, I faced a spiritual decision. My English teacher was a special woman who took a particular interest in me. Midway through the year, she assigned the class a book to read that soon caused me concern. The author mocked godly morals, and the characters used inappropriate language. The more I read, the stronger I felt that I should not read this book, but I did not want to disappoint my teacher! I prayed earnestly for God’s guidance, and received the same answer every time, so I prepared myself to tell her that I could not read the book.
My teacher responded with the very words I dreaded: “I am disappointed in you. You should not withdraw yourself from learning about these perspectives, even if they’re different than what you believe.” As difficult as it was to hear those words, I felt relieved because I had followed God’s guidance.
After that school year she retired. During my senior year she came to the school to visit our class. By then, the book incident was just a slight recollection in my mind. However, she remembered the incident vividly. The first thing she said when she saw me was, “You were right.” At my perplexed expression, she reminded me of the book and told me that I had made the right decision when I stood up for what I believed.
As Christians, we need God’s guidance. He is a source of wisdom for any situation! We can have confidence that He will lead us in the right direction. When facing life-changing decisions, we often feel an urgent need for God’s help. For example, we want to seek God’s guidance about the person we marry or in choosing the right occupation. We also often seek God’s leading on small things in life. We might pray He will help us find our keys or give help on a school test.
God longs to guide us in spiritual matters as well as physical matters, and decisions we make that could affect our spiritual condition are, by far, the most crucial. We may not even fully realize the long-term ramifications of a decision. Should I develop a friendship with this co-worker? Should I refuse to work on Sundays? Should I watch this movie? Ask God for direction. These kinds of decisions, whether seemingly small or not, will determine our spiritual condition and happiness.
I was blessed to see a long-term result of following God’s guidance. We may not always see such a result, but there are results even if they are not obvious! Though at times it may seem difficult to follow His leading, it is well worth it! If we seek God’s guidance and follow it, we will be blessed, and others will be too.
The last half of chapter 30 marked a change from Isaiah’s prophecy against the rebellion of Judah, as he prophesied the restoration of Israel and the Lord’s judgment on Israel’s oppressor, Assyria. As often before, the Lord stretched out His hand to His people who did not deserve it. If they turned to Him, He would be their Deliverer and their Guide.
The “bread of adversity” and the “water of affliction” were expressions for doled out bread and water during times of scarcity, such as during a siege. The people’s unwillingness to listen to the prophets of God forced them to learn through affliction. However, God promised to guide those who put away idols and were willing to follow Him.
The teachers, or true prophets, were often removed and forced to hide when idolatrous leaders had complete power. This evil oppression was promised to end. The “great slaughter,” in verse 25, refers to the battle of Armageddon in the last days of evil on the earth.
The closing theme in this chapter introduced the announcement that God would defeat the Assyrians. The historical event of the defeat of the Assyrian army recorded in Isaiah 36-37 was predicted in chapters 30-35 in great detail. This prophecy was given only about a year before the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, seized Jerusalem, which led to the defeat of the Assyrian army.
God had used the Assyrians to discipline Judah, but He promised that discipline would not last forever. Isaiah described the judgment of Assyria as a storm of fire and hail, and sifting grain with a sieve — sifting the Assyrian nation until nothing was left but destruction. The “bridle in the jaws” refers to godless nations that God would lead into ways they did not intend.
Tophet was a place built for the king of Assyria. Tophet could be translated “hearth” or “fire-pit.” It represented the place in the Valley of Hinnom, below the hill of Zion on the southwest corner of Jerusalem, where human children were offered as sacrifices to the god Molech. Josiah later turned the heathen place into a dump, naming it Gehenna, which came from ge-ben-hinnom, meaning “valley of the son of Hinnom.” Gehenna is the New Testament word for “hell.” The site intended for the king of Assyria was to be one of the lowest places on earth.
In contrast to the destruction promised to the nations who had defied God, Isaiah prophesied that the people of God would have a song during the night (verse 29) and “gladness of heart.” In spite of evil darkness increasing, the song would be one of victory, much like the song of Miriam and the Jewish women after the defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
E. Prophecies related to unbelievers in Israel and Judah
3. Woes against foreign alliances
a. The first woe
(3) The promise of divine blessing (30:18-26)
(a) Spiritual blessings (30:18-22)
(b) Material blessings (30:23-26)
(4) The destruction of Assyria (30:27-33)
Following God’s guidance is essential for our spiritual survival. We can learn to hear God’s voice, which will save us heartache and frustration. Let’s seek God’s plan, and follow through with it!