Isaiah begins a series of woes that will end in chapter 33. Today's subject is Ephraim.
Isaiah Chapter 28
Lessons from the text
Good Beginnings The story if the children of Israel is a tragic tale. God Himself pulls them out of bondage, but they want to return. He fulfills His promise to them by giving a particular land, defeating their enemies in a fantastic display of supernatural power, but after one generation they forget about Him. He raises up judges to teach them right from wrong, but as soon as that judge dies, they go back to sin. He gives them a righteous king, but pride and idolatry enter the next king's heart.
As God Himself said, they are a fading flower. Sprung up so beautifully but dying so quickly.
It is a shame what happened to Israel, but the same can happen to us if we are not careful. It is vital that we make sure our faith, our fire to serve God, is not also short-lived.
A Note on Alcohol There is a strong division among Christians concerning the consumption of alcohol. This chapter as well as other verses clearly says that God views drunkenness as a sin. When my husband and I got into a discussion on the matter, I researched in Strong's Concordance all the places in Scripture where "wine" and "strong drink" are mentioned.
Strong drink is clear on its meaning. God strictly warns the priests in the Old Testament to avoid it. As for wine, Paul in I Timothy 3 lists avoiding drinking too much of it as a requirement for holding a church office. Does that mean one is never to drink?
Wine can refer to two words: freshly pressed grapes (grape juice) or fermented grapes (alcoholic wine). Curiously, the requirements for the drink offering that was to be poured out to the Lord uses the word which refers to the alcoholic beverage. Why would God accept alcohol as an offering but forbid man to drink it?
God requires the blood to be poured out as an offering, but forbids man to eat the blood (Lev 4:7, 17:14).
God requires the fat and liver to be burnt as an offering, but gives the priests a different portion to eat (Lev 4:19, Deut 18:3).
These are great examples to justify the position that one should abstain from all alcohol. Nonetheless, I cannot in Scripture find one verse that distinctly says that no matter what, one should not drink. To the contrary, Paul's request to Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake is the same word Paul uses two chapters earlier as a requirement that the church leaders not drink much wine (I Tim 5:25, 3:8). Although mentioned for medicinal purposes, alcohol is clearly not an absolutely forbidden substance. What is forbidden, however, is drunkenness.
From my personal experiences of before I knew the Lord and from watching my family members, drinking a "small" portion of alcohol is almost indistinguishable from drunkenness. How so? One drink leads to another, then another. While for a year or two you may be just fine with one beer, after a while the body develops an intolerance and so it takes a little more to get a buzz. You won't even realize you have had any alcohol because your body is so accustomed to it. That's when you start having two or three beers after work, and, before you know it, you're addicted to being drunk, be it a physical or emotional addition.
Therefore, it is my personal opinion that one should abstain from all alcohol on the grounds that it puts one vulnerable to the temptation of becoming a drunkard. It's just like playing with matches. You may never get burned in your lifetime, but it's still a bad idea to teach everyone else to play with them because somebody will burn their house down.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 Ephraim, although part of the twelve tribes, is called the "crown of pride." They began beautifully, but they have been reduced to drunkards.
2-3 God Himself will come like a storm to break the pride of Ephraim. Noteworthy is that God uses an image of a liquid to judge those overcome with a liquid.
4 Because of their choices, Ephraim will be cut short. The implication is that they could have been so beautiful for such a long time, but now they will not have the opportunity to thrive.
5-6 While Ephraim is a crown of pride, the Lord is a crown of glory. He will be the beauty and righteousness that Ephraim failed to be.
7-8 Here is repeated for the fourth time Ephraim's sin of drunkenness. This emphasis should not be taken lightly.
9-10 God is having to start over with the newer, younger generation because the current generation is so lost in sin. Being in a right relationship with God takes multiple steps and must be built from the ground up.
11-12 because they refused to listen when God spoke plainly, He will now speak to them in a way that they cannot understand.
13 The law was very straightforward and very strict so that Israel, if it looked back in the word, would see their error.
13-14 God's message is straightforward. Israel and Judah are trusting in their ways of sin to the point that they were taking rest in them believing that they would carry them through, even through death.
15 The prideful Jews have trusted in their wickedness to the point that they believe their ways will deliver them from death. They trust that they have woven enough lies that nothing can reach them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
16 In response to the lies of man, God will establish a foundation which has been tested, tried, and proved to be secure. The cornerstone is a reference to Christ (Ps 118:22, Acts 4:11).
17 Once established, this cornerstone, or Christ, will destroy all lies with His truth.
18 The very thing the prideful trust their lies will protect them from is what will destroy them. God is so bold as to say that any intentional contract with the power of death and hell (Satan) will be dissolved by God. No lie, no false religion, will protect one from the judgement of Christ. Only belief in Him, only acceptance of His ways, will allow one to pass from judgement into adoption into the family of God (Jn 1:12).
19-20 One cannot escape the scourge of judgment; one's life is too short to even extend to one's full potentials and too narrow to provide warmth in the night.
21 Baal-perazim is one place where David defeated the Philistines so sorely that they left their idols and fled (II Sam 5:20), and the valley of Gideon is the place of victory over five Canaanite kings where God stayed the sun and moon in their places until the battle was won (Josh 10:1-13).
22-23 When God sends a warning, do not mock Him, but take heed.
25-29 The plowman, the harvester, and the baker are all examples of the order which God has ordained. The implication is a rhetorical question: if God gives order to the mundane things of life, does He not also have steps and actions for man? Every type of person, the righteous, the faithful, the sinner, will each be treated according to his kind.
Please comment below to tell us what you learned from today's lesson.