Historical background

The gift of languages (tongues) is the most misunderstood and therefore most controversial of all the spiritual gifts. The fact that it is indeed, a bona fide spiritual gift cannot be disputed. However, tongues had a very specialized and restricted expression, and it is that specialization and restriction which has been consistently and harmfully ignored since very early in the history of the church.

The focus of this treatise is to demonstrate that the gift of tongues is no longer a functional gift for God's people; that it served its specific purpose between the years 30 and 70 AD; and that any manifestation of similar activity in this day and age is at best, involvement in personal or group emotional ecstatics which produces an un-intelligible gibberish, or at worse, involvement with demons seeking to distract the people of God from genuine worship and service. In either case, God is not glorified and the Lord Jesus Christ is not honored. Jesus taught that there are many who "prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles," (Mat. 7:22), but they are unbelievers and they are rejected by Jesus as ones whom He never knew (Mat. 7:23). Accordingly, it is just as likely that there will be those who are believers in Jesus, such as those of the Corinthian church of the first century, who through wrong motives and influence from others, will get involved in religious activity that is not from God or honoring to Him. The modern day "tongues movement" is just such an activity.

The key passage for understanding the gift of tongues is 1 Cor.14:20-22.
From this passage we are referred to the Old Testament and find that the gift is directly tied in with the nation of Israel and her failure as God's representative here on earth.

From Exodus 19:5-6 we understand that when God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt He established her at that time as an official nation and as a formal agent to promote the Messianic message within the world.

1. If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant:
The covenant as outlined at Exodus 34:27-28 and Deuteronomy 5:2-21.

It is first the covenant of the Decalogue or the 10 commandments, and then all the regulations and rituals God gave as amplification of the first 4 commandments which are centered around worship; and the social and moral guidelines which amplify the last 6.
Notice the two parts of the covenant at Deuteronomy 29:1.

2. Then you shall be my own "treasured possession" (Hebrew, segullAh) among all the peoples. Israel will become a nation ruled by God, a Theocratic nation. This involves special care and protection with emphasis on the nation's physical function and well being.
Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4

3. And a kingdom of priests: this is the issue of service. Israel is to be a servant to God as a representative of God to others.
Deuteronomy 4:6 and Isaiah 43:10; 44:8; 49:3; Jeremiah 13:11

4. And a holy nation: holy means set apart as special and different. Israel, by following the law of God will become a nation that is morally and spiritually unique; different from all other nations.

This was God's intent for the nation. And the plan was to center Israel's service in the land of Palestine, and from there, reach out to other nations. But if the nation ever fails to fulfill its evangelistic responsibilities, then she will be removed from the land, placed under a curse and her priestly function will be assigned to a different group of people.

A. The curse of discipline: Leviticus 26:14-33; Deuteronomy 28:20-68;

Deuteronomy 28:63, and it will come about that as YAhweh delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so YAhweh will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.

B. The curse of replacement by another group: Isaiah 65:1, 13-16

Deuteronomy 32:21, they have made me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (Matthew 21:33-46; 23:37-39).

They substituted something else for the place God was to have, so God will substitute something else for the place they are supposed to have.

C. The discipline on the nation will be carried out in five separate cycles according to Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

D. The first three cycles would be administered by God at many different times throughout Israel's history, but what is of immediate concern for us is just the 4th and 5th.

See Topic, Israel: National discipline

E. Definition of the 4th cycle of discipline: Leviticus 26:23-26
Basically, it is military occupation by a foreign power (v.25) and the economic hardships that result (v.26).

F. Definition of the 5th cycle of discipline: Leviticus 26:27-33

1. Total destruction of the national structure, v.31-32
2. Removal of the people from the land, v.33.

The nation of Israel flirted with God's justice all throughout it's history. In fact, we find at Deuteronomy 9:7,

"Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD."

And so, through an ever increasing spiral of rebellion and failure to fulfill its divine commission, the nation faced the 4th cycle of discipline on several occasions, and in time, the 5th cycle as well.

It was 263 years after the division of the nation into the Southern and Northern kingdoms that the Northern kingdom was placed under the 5th cycle at the hands of Assyria in the year 719 BC. But it was not until 605 BC that God administered the 5th cycle upon the Southern kingdom via the Babylonian captivity. That discipline lasted only 70 years and served as a shadow of another time of discipline that would come in the future when the nation would reject the Messiah who would be presented to them.

It is in reference to the nation's commission and failure that we see the gift of tongues provided. As indicated earlier, the key is found at 1 Corinthians 14:20-22.

Here, Paul reminds them of the true function of the gift in order to offset any misinformation and the abuse and misuse that may result.

Verse 20

1. Brethren, do not become children in thinking (phren refers to the act and the process of thinking). The emphasis is on "immaturity" and incompletion in ones perception of a certain set of facts, which of course, is the subject at hand.

It speaks of having a deficiency because one has not "grown up" through proper learning and acceptance of bible truths.

2. Yet in evil be babes: this is a parenthetical aside from the subject in order to establish a specific subject matter. It is actually desirable to be "deficient" in the area of evil. But Paul wants to stress the idea of "not" being deficient in the area of "knowledge" and the thinking enablement (discernment) that results from having accurate facts. However, the clear implication is that Paul certainly views the Corinthian fabrication of a "universal" gift of tongues as evil.

3. But in your thinking become mature: teleios means mature or complete.
The use of the word, become (ginomai) indicates that they need to be re-taught the true facts about the gift of tongues in light of the distorted view and imitation practice in the church.

In verse 21, Paul provides an historical orientation. He references the Old testament to show the original purpose for the gift.

1. In the law it is written: reference to "God's" law in general, as revealed in the Old Testament.
And thus, the book of Isaiah qualifies. He quotes Isaiah 28:11.

2. By men of foreign tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me.

3. It is necessary therefore that we study the quote within the context of its original setting. Isaiah 28:1-22

4. The overall context extends from chapter 28 through 33 in a section that can be designated as the Book of Woes.

5. It was written c.713-712 BC as a warning to the Southern kingdom of Judah that God was about to discipline them and remove them from the place of their evangelistic and priestly function.

6. The Northern kingdom of Israel had already been placed under a three-stage administration of discipline which began in 736 BC and would culminate in 673 BC with a total loss of national identity.

7. The "fading crown" of Ephraim (the Northern kingdom) is used by God in Isaiah 28 as a teaching aid to the people of the Southern kingdom in order to snap them out of their rebellion so that they can escape the overflowing scourge of the Assyrian invasion and avoid the same fate as the Northern Kingdom.

8. Assyria invades the Southern kingdom in 711 BC, but because of the Hezekiah revival, the nation is spared, Assyria is driven back by the intervention of God and the nation escapes destruction for 120 years.

9. But as is the case all throughout the book of Isaiah, the historical situation is used by God to teach about conditions that will exist and events that will take place during one or both of the two advents of the Messiah.

10. The two advents of the Messiah are discussed frequently in Isaiah and often times without distinction between them. One of the primary concerns to the bible student then, should be diligence in making and preserving that distinction between the Messiah's two advents.

11. In this section (28-33) we find application to both advents of the Messiah. One such application is that God uses the threat of national discipline on the Southern kingdom to give a prophetic sign and warning to the generation that will live at Messiah's first advent. That sign and warning is the gift of tongues.

12. As we will see, the sign is for both blessing and cursing.
Blessing if the nation will accept their Messiah and cursing if the nation does not accept Him.



1. Isaiah covers a period from 755 to 696 BC - 59 years. Isaiah 1:1 with 6:1

From Uzziah's (good king) death, through Jotham (good king) for 16 years, Ahaz (bad king) for 16 years, and Hezekiah (good king) for 29 years.

2. The subject is the spiritual and moral condition of the Southern kingdom of Israel, called Judah. But although the book was written TO Judah, it also deals with other nations including the Northern kingdom of Israel (Samaria).

SEE topic: Israel, the Division of the kingdom

3. Chapters 1-5: the prediction of and reasons for the 4th and 5th cycles of discipline on Judah.

A. Review 5 cycles of discipline via Leviticus 26.
B. Reason: progress of apostasy since king Rehoboam
C. Prediction: Fulfilled in 605 BC and 586 BC by the Chaldean empire under Nebuchadnezzar.

4. Chapter 6: the call and commission of Isaiah in about 755 BC.

5. Chapters 7-12: Southern kingdom under Ahaz (738-722 BC).

A. War with Syria and the Northern Kingdom (738-736 BC).
B. Alliance with Assyria (736-711 BC).
C. Northern kingdom alliance with Assyria from 768 to 736 BC.
D. Southern kingdom had alliance with Assyria from 738 to 736 BC.
E. Southern kingdom under 4th cycle of discipline by Assyria from 736 to 725 BC. The 4th cycle of national discipline is when a foreign nation places economic and geographical controls on another nation to such an extent that the foreign government actually becomes the dictator over the affairs of the invaded nation.

6. Chapters 13-27: Various nations dealt with. Given in c. 713 BC. Isaiah 20:1

7. Chapters 28-33: The Book of Woes

A. Written in c. 713-712 BC and deals with the Southern kingdom
B. This section deals with the Imminency of foreign invasion leading to the 4th and 5th cycles of discipline.

C. But because of spiritual revival in 711 BC, the nation will be spared, and Assyria will be judged and neutralized.

D. The 4th cycle does not occur again until 608-605 BC under Egypt and Pharoah Neco (609-593 BC).

E. In 605 BC, Chaldea, under Nebuchadnezzar, administrates the 5th cd.

1. This includes 70 years captivity. 605-536 BC (Jeremiah 25:1, 11-13)

2. And the 70 years desolations of Jerusalem. 586-516 BC (Zechariah 1:12)

3. The 5th cycle ends in 536 BC but the city and the temple are not rebuilt until 516 BC.

F. But the issue in this section is the apostasy of the Southern kingdom, national discipline and national recovery in 711 BC.


8. The immediate lesson from this section is the insignificance of religion and human viewpoint in contrast to the all sufficiency of divine viewpoint.

9. Chapters 34-35: Prophetic of the Day of the Lord and Messiah's kingdom

10. Chapters 36-39: Historical record reflecting the prophecies of chapters 28-33.

11. Chapters 40-66: Given after the crisis of 711 BC, and deals with the establishment and blessings of Messiah's kingdom.


Verses 1-4, relates the progress of national discipline on the Northern Kingdom of Israel (called Ephraim).

Verse 1

1. Woe: the word, hoy, indicates the expression of God's justice to those who are in opposition to Divine viewpoint.

A. It is not a threat
B. It is not really even a promise.
C. It is a principle. Deviation from divine design produces WOE in various degrees; soulish, physical, national.


2. The prophecy of divine judgment does two things.

A. It indicates that God's righteous standards must be honored. Verse 29:13

B. It provides time for recovery. As long as there is life, there is hope.

C. But for the Northern kingdom, there is no recovery and no return.
The major blow has been struck; what remains is sweeping up the debris.

D. In addition, this prophecy is not written to or for the Northern kingdom, but to the Southern Kingdom as a warning.

3. To the proud crown: This is a symbol of national sovereignty and honor, which in this case, is expressed by arrogance and independence that rejects God and clings to personal and national human viewpoint standards.

4. of the drunkards of Ephraim.

A. The spiritual and moral condition of the Northern kingdom is indicated by drunkenness.

B. Spiritual drunkenness: This is based on verses 7-8 (cf. 29:9-10).
They are drunk (deluded and numbed) by the influence of idolatry and false doctrine.

C. However, it also includes the social condition of the nation which is given over to the practice of bacchanalianism.

5. And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty.

A. The crown refers to national sovereignty and honor which has been removed.

B. The flower refers to the remnant of national honor that still remains among the population and among the captives.

C. But the flower is fading fast. This message was given in 713 BC and describes the process of destruction that will take 65 years.

1. It began to be destroyed in 736 BC, when Tiglath Pileser of Assyria subjugated the Northern Kingdom under the 4th cycle of discipline (2 Kings 16:5-9).

2. The flower faded further in 721-719 BC, when the nation was put under the 5th cycle of discipline by Shalmeneser, and most of the people were taken captive to Assyria (2 kings 17:9-12).

3. But the flower is not yet totally faded. The final stage is yet to be carried out between 680 and 673 BC, by Esar Haddon of Assyria (2 Kings 17:24).
But the fading is in progress between 719-680 BC also.

4. This is based on the message given to Ahaz in 738 BC (Isaiah 7:8), "within 65 years." (738-673 BC) Ephraim will be shattered so that it is no longer a people.

6. Which is at the head of the fertile valley.
This simply refers to the beautiful, mountainous location of the city of Samaria, the capital, which was situated at a height of about 300 feet, at the head of the Valley of Sharon. cf. Amos 4:1; 6:1

7. Of those who are overcome with wine.

A. the word overcome (hAlam, qal participle) means to smite, to hammer, strike down.

B. It refers to the total neutralization that results from adherence to idolatry and false doctrine (2 Kings 17:7-18).
If someone is a political leader of a nation and is continually involved with physical drunkenness (dominated by the philosophy of sensuality), he cannot properly administrate leadership responsibilities.
If someone is a spiritual (religious) leader of a nation, and is continually involved with the spiritual drunkenness of idolatry, he cannot properly administrate his leadership responsibilities.

C. This comes from the darkened soul and the blindness of heart that results, which then in turn results in the indictment found at Isaiah 29:9-10.

Verse 2

1. Behold: the word, hina, means to focus attention on something; concentrate on. It is a very common expression in the Hebrew culture, using both the Hebrew and Greek languages, which basically means to see or look at. The communicator wants to get the hearers' or readers' attention and this device should elicit a concentrated focus on what follows. Here, it is addressed to the leaders of the Southern Kingdom concerning what has happened in the Northern kingdom and what will happen to them if they do not recover.

2. The Lord (adonai) has a strong and mighty one (an agent).

This refers to the nation of Assyria, which has been the dominant force in the world since 883 BC.

Ashurnairpal II 883-859 BC
Shalmaneser III 858-824
Shamsi-Adad V 823-811
Adad-Nirari III 810-783
Shalmaneser IV 782-773
Ashur-dan III 772-755
Ashur-nirari V 754-745
Tiglathpileser III 744-727
Shalmanezer V 726-722
Sargon II 721-705
Sennacherib 704-681
Esar-haddon 680-669
Ashur-banipal 668-626
Then Babylon's Nabopolasser 625-605
Nebuchadnezzar 604-562

3. As a storm of hail: a large hail storm, a tempest (great wind) of destruction. Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters (great flood).
These are examples of natural force used to represent the great military force of Assyria.

The word, overflowing, is a qal participle of shAtaph, and looks to the invasion of the Southern kingdom in 711 BC, that "overflows" from the attack on the Northern kingdom in 722-719 BC. The very same word is used at verses 15 and 18 (translated in the NASB as overwhelming) and further refers to the extension of Assyria's attack into the Southern kingdom. The historical record of this attack is found at 2 Kings 18:1-13 and Isaiah 36-39 and 2 Chronicles 32:1.

4. He has cast it down to the earth by hand. This refers to personal judgment on the Northern Kingdom form the hand of God. It refers to the fact that the crown was removed in 719 BC.

Verse 3

The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
This describes the status of the nation's honor. The crown has been removed. The only thing left is the fading flower of the nation's glory.

Verse 4

The yet future, third stage of the 5th cycle of discipline on Ephraim.

1. And the fading flower . . . WILL BE: This refers to a yet future judgment on the nation that will bring its glory; its cultural heritage to an end.

2. Like the first ripe fig prior to summer, which ones sees, and as soon as it is in his hand, he swallows it.

This refers to someone other than the nation's population partaking of the nation's assets. These assets will not be enjoyed by the people of the land, but by a usurper; an invader, who sees what they have and takes it for himself.

3. This final blow to national sovereignty and honor takes place between 680 and 673 BC. The Northern kingdom is under the 5th cycle of discipline and the administration of that discipline will not be interrupted. However, this information is not given for the benefit of the Northern kingdom, but for the Southern kingdom, which can still prevent the actions that will bring about the 5th cycle upon them.

Starting with verse 5, the focus will now be on the Southern kingdom through immediate application, and by distant application, on the restored kingdom that will exist during the time of Messiah's first advent, even though they will still be under the 4th cycle.

The Southern kingdom can look at the failure of the Northern kingdom, and the discipline that comes upon it, and take positive steps to prevent the same thing from happening to them.

Verses 5-8 The issues of both victory and defeat

As Isaiah continues his ministry to the Southern kingdom, he gives them a promise of victory, but a victory that is based first on their trust in God. And if they choose to reject such faith-trust in God's character and plan, then they also will be placed under the 5th cycle of discipline and be destroyed by the invading armies of Assyria. But first, the leaders of the nation will try everything they can to resist the invaders apart from trusting in God, only to finally concede that God alone has the answer and the means of victory. And all the while, God was patiently waiting for them to trust Him (Isaiah 30:18).

Verses 5-6 The promise of victory in the crisis based on trust in yahweh

Verse 5

1. In that day: This refers to the PERIOD of time when Assyria will be completing its domination of the Northern kingdom. This takes place after 719 BC and will be completed in 673 BC. It is then, within this time period that Assyria will turn against Judah and seek to totally dominate her.

Hezekiah became king of Judah in 724 BC, at the age of 25. He immediately began promoting divine viewpoint and policy in the nation, even to the point of rebelling against the servitude imposed by Assyria under his father's reign (2 Kings 18:5-7). In 722 BC, Assyria conquered the Northern kingdom, which took about 3 years (2 Kings 18:9-12), and then for the next several years (until 673 BC), the people were slowly displaced from the land and taken captive to Assyria. Eight years later, in 711 BC, he turned upon Judah because of Hezekiah's rebellion (2 Kings 18:13). At the first, Hezekiah succumbed and gave to Sennacherib silver and gold from the temple in order to appease him. However, this did not please God nor did it truly appease Assyria, for he immediately sent his generals to attack Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). It is probable that this lapse of Hezekiah is the reason for his sickness as discipline from God, even though through Isaiah's help, they were able to endure the attack of Assyria at this time. It is this attack, that takes place during Assyria's domination of the Northern kingdom, that is in view at Isaiah 28:5, "in that day."

2. The LORD of Hosts: Yahweh of the armies is the commander in chief of the nation of Israel. As long as the people and the military put their trust in Him, they will find inner peace and be given national peace through victory over their enemies.

Yahweh of the Armies:
1 Samuel 17:45

"I come to you in the name of Yahweh of the armies,
the Elohim (God) of the battle ranks of Israel."

2 Chronicles 32:7-8

"The one with us is greater than the one with him . . .
with us is Yahweh our God (elohim) to help us and to fight our battles."

If they maintain this focus of trust on Yahweh, then He will become for them - -

3. A beautiful crown: the symbol of national pride and honor.

God is the true basis for national stability. Whenever a people concentrate on secular culture; politics and economy, apart from genuine trust in God, they undermine the thing that makes a nation truly great. Such a spiritual decline of a nation leads to the moral decline of that nation and eventual self-destruction.

This is the pattern throughout all of history. All the great nations that have come and gone, have dwindled based on failure to follow the principles of divine morality and relationship with God.

4. And a glorious diadem: poetic repetition that refers to the same idea.
This is a common device in Hebrew poetry to provide emphasis.

5. To the remnant of His people: This refers to those of the Southern kingdom who trust in God during the crisis of the Assyrian invasion.

Verse 6

1. A spirit of justice: this refers to the attitude and influence of God's justice that is present in the king.

2. To him who sits in judgment: This refers to king Hezekiah. God will become a source of great strength and stability and encouragement to Hezekiah, so that as the ruler, he can stand up in front of the people and proclaim to them not to worry about the invader for God is on our side. And he did just that, even after all his failures.

3. And a strength to those who repel the onslaught at the gate:
This refers to the military personnel who are on the battle lines.

These men need encouragement from their leaders and from the people they are defending. But mostly, from a mutual trust in God's character and plan that recognizes that "the battle is Yahweh's" (1 Sam. 17:47) and "Yahweh will fight for you," (Ex. 14:14).

Verses 7-8 The actual status of the nation which is the cause of defeat.

1. And these also: This refers to the spiritual leadership of the Southern nation. The word, also, takes us back to what has previously been said in the context about the leaders of the Northern kingdom. It sets up a parallel. Just as the leadership acted and failed in the Northern kingdom, so ALSO, the leaders of the Southern kingdom have acted and failed to trust in Yahweh.

The status of the Northern kingdom prior to their destruction is described in Hosea 4:1-6. And since we are told that Judah has done worse than Israel (Ezek. 16:44-52), we can use such passages as this one to understand the nature of the spiritual and moral depravity that existed.

2. They reel with wine: there are several words here that describe the unstable condition of the nation; reel, stagger, confused, totter. We will look at each of them in order to get a complete picture of their spiritual condition. Isaiah is not giving us a difference between the effects of wine vs. strong drink, but the difference in the effects (or rather the progress) of drunkenness regardless of the source.

A. Reel: shAgAh means to stray or swerve, and indicates imbalance and dizziness while standing in place. It communicates physical dizziness from wine.

B. stagger: tAAh means to wander about. But there is no control because of the influence from the wine, so that the result is a staggering. The progress from swerve to stagger is important to the image that is being communicated, as it will be mentioned again at the end of the verse.

3. The priest and the prophet: The difference between these two is that the priest is the one responsible for taking existent divine revelation and communicating it to the people. This would be done in two ways; through ritual observances of the law, and through reading and commenting on the text of scripture. The prophet is the one who actually received new divine revelation from God and as such was the actual mouthpiece of God.

4. There are 3 things mentioned in describing these religious leaders.

A. They reel: This refers to physical imbalance while not moving.
B. They are confused: this refers to MENTAL imbalance. The word is bAlA and refers to mental confusion. It is the same word used in Genesis 11 where we are told that God confused their languages.

C. stagger: This refers to physical imbalance while moving.

5. In the last part of this verse, these words for imbalance are related to religious activity and indicate the severity of the spiritual problem in the nation.

A. While having visions: They are not in MOTION. They are having visions. This describes the activity of preparation for teaching.
That is, the gathering and receiving of information to pass on to the people.

If it is the priest, he is reviewing revealed information.
If it is the prophet, he is seeking new revelation from God.
If this person is literally drunk while having visions, then it is obvious that he is not receiving information from God. If "drunk" is symbolic for while he is having visions, then it is indicating the source of the visions. He is under the influence of false doctrine.

B. Totter while rendering judgment. The verb is pug and is only used four times in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 10:4; Amos 2:13x2). It means to totter or give way under excessive weight. Too much of a load or too much pressure on one's back or shoulders so that he shakes and collapses. These are receiving an influence that so pressures these teachers, that they collapse under it and fail to represent divine truth, but instead, teach the false doctrines and viewpoints of the idolatrous sects around them. The real issue, then, is that there is no accuracy to what is being taught.

REVIEW Isaiah 29:9-10, which explains the spiritual application of drunkenness to the religious leaders of the nation. God has allowed the influence from false doctrine. The teachers choose to accept the false doctrine and harden their hearts toward God. God continues to allow the influence but also continues to proclaim truth to them, and in so doing, God hardens the heart.
That is, by giving more information to those who are negative to the things of God, he actively participates in the process that leads to their hardness of heart. See Topic: Hardness of Heart

C. the result is that there is the byproduct of drunkenness all over the tables; the vomit of false doctrine served to the people.

Verse 8

1. For all the tables:

A. Literally: at the wine feasts
B. Symbolic: the teaching sessions

2. Are full of filthy vomit:

A. Literally: GROSS
B. Symbolic: the true character of false doctrine.

3. Without a single clean place: no truth anywhere
Hosea 4:1-3; Isaiah 1:1-4

Verses 9-13 Focus on communication of truth as the solution to the nation's problems. However, there is very little responsiveness to God's truth, and that condition is used as a prophetic anticipation of the Messiah generation who will see Messiah's person and works, and reject Him.

Verse 9

1. To whom would he teach knowledge?
This refers to divine truth in general and reflects the general attitude of the nation's populace, which is unresponsive to God's viewpoint and policies (Isaiah 3:8-9).

2. And to whom would he interpret the message?
This refers to the specific message of either blessing or cursing depending on whether the nation responds or not.

3. Those just weaned from milk; those just taken from the breast?
The question implies that there is no one in the land who can respond to truth and the only people left are the infants. They have not been corrupted by false doctrine and idolatry. Everyone else is disinterested and rebellious against God. However, teaching the infants will not deliver the nation.

4. But the message will be proclaimed to the nation anyway. And in that proclamation will be a prophecy concerning the nation in the distant future, when Messiah will have come and been rejected by the nation.

Verse 10 The sign of Messiah's new priestly agent

1. For (kiy): this introduces a monosyllabic poem that announces that the prophet's message will indeed be proclaimed to the entire nation.

2. The poem indicates two things:

A. The content of the message: the message will be one of both blessing and judgment through identification with the Messiah's presence on the earth and acceptance of Him as the Savior.

B. An imitation of a Gentile language: This will serve as a sign to the nation that the Messiah has indeed come to the nation and will bless only those who identify with Him, while judging all the others.

C. Some have seen in this poem, the imitation of sounds that a baby would make in order to relate to the mention of babies in verse 9, but this picture does not correlate with the specific language that describes the poem (foreign tongue) nor does it correlate with the future fulfillment of the prophecy, when God uses actual Gentile languages to communicate truth to the nation.

D. The significance of babies in the passage is that there is no one of volitional responsibility who is responding to God's truth, and that leaves only babies to receive the message. But the message is meaningless to the babies; just as meaningless as having the message proclaimed to the adults in a Gentile language. However, there will come a time when the message IS proclaimed in a Gentile language and WILL be understood because the Jewish culture of that future generation will be dominated by the Gentile languages prevalent in the Roman Empire. And when this occurs, it will serve as a sign that God is about to make a major change in administrating truth in the world.

3. Order on order, order on order: tsav(w) lAtsAv(w), tsav(w) lAtsAv(w)
The word, tsav, means a command or precept. It refers to the content of the message being an orderly proclamation of one precept upon another. The final letter (wav) can be rendered either as a W sound or a V sound, however, whichever, "school" one follows, he needs to be consistent.

4. Line on line, line on line: kav(w) lAkAv(w), kav(w) lAkAv(w)
This indicates an orderly and thorough proclamation of divine truth that evaluates each and every word that comes from the mouth of God.

5. A little here, a little there (here): zeayr shAm, zeayr shAm
This indicates consistency and repetition for maximum exposure.

Verse 11

The other factor is that this message will be proclaimed to the nation through a Gentile language instead of the language of the prophets. But this is yet future, and when it occurs, it will serve as a sign that God is going to displace the nation as His evangelistic agent, and create a new nation, a spiritual nation, comprised of both Jew and Gentile to function as His representatives of truth here on the earth.

1. Indeed (kiy): For - in further explanation.
This makes a correlation with the monosyllabic poem of verse 10 and a guttural type Gentile language, and in this case, an invading army.

2. He will speak to THIS people: This has a two-fold application.

A. In the immediate time context of 713-712 BC, it refers to the Southern kingdom of Judah under Hezekiah, and to Isaiah quoting this poem to them to emphasize the simplicity of the message.

B. In a future generation, it refers to the nation of Israel that will be visited by the personal presence of the Messiah.

3. through stammering lips: This refers to a guttural type language.
Not smooth like the Hebrew. Isaiah speaks to this people using the format of tsav latsav, etc, imitating a guttural type Gentile language in order to emphasize the simplicity of the message.

4. And a foreign tongue (language): This gets more specific and refers to a future generation when the prophet's message will be given in an actual Gentile language, and serve as a sign to the nation that God is making a change in His operational procedure.

5. The sign to the nation is two-fold.

A. First, the fact that God is going to discontinue the administration of the divine commission through Israel, and give the responsibility to a NEW nation.
Rom. 9:4-5; Isaiah 41:8-9; 43:7, 10; 49:3; Hosea 4:6

B. Second, it is a sign of national discipline; the fact that Israel will not only be displaced, but also removed from being a functionally free nation through destruction of her temple and cities (Matthew 21:33-45; 23:29-39).

Verse 12 The content of the message

1. He who said to them: This is the grace message from God, which communicates a universal principle; while there is life, there is hope.

2. this is the security: menuchAh, is used to emphasize spiritual stability and then national protection.

3. give security: nuach as a hiphil imperative

4. To the weary: Ayaph refers to the condition of men living under human viewpoint standards; inwardly wearied.

A. Isaiah 57:21, no peace to the wicked
B. Matthew 11:28
C. Romans 5:6-10, the spiritual depravity of H.U.S.E.

5. And this is the rest: margaAh refers to contentment and happiness; peace and rest - through relationship and fellowship with Yahweh.
This is a blessing extended to all people on God's terms, but with special emphasis on the national crisis of 711 BC and the Messiah generation of the distant future.

6. But they would not listen:

A. They were not willing: AbhAh as a qal imperfect indicates an established pattern of volitional rejection

B. To listen: ShAma as a qal infinitive construct expresses the attitude of verse 30:11, "Let us hear no more of the Holy One of Israel."

C. This total rejection of relationship with Yahweh, is the basic attitude of the nation, but until the discipline actually takes place, there is still hope (Verse 30:19).

D. And during the Messiah generation of the distant future, the same attitude will be mentioned and be finalized by total rejection of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 23:37, "and you were not willing.")

Verse 13 The alternative to blessing is judgment

1. So: Because of their rejection of God. This introduces a principle that is applicable for those in 711 BC, as well as for all people.

2. The word of Yahweh to them will be: It will be the same kind of message, but with a different emphasis.

A. Divine viewpoint always includes both blessing and judgment as can be seen at Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

B. However, after rejection of truth has been expressed, the message will focus primarily on the judgment that results from rejection, from both a spiritual and a national perspective.

3. So that they may go: hAlak is used to indicate the actions of rebellion that come from the initial negative volition toward God.

It is preceded by a particle of purpose to indicate the process of negative consequences that come from the rebellious attitude.

The next four words are all preceded by the connective AND, to indicate a specific and certain progress toward national and social destruction.

4. And stumble backward: The choice to GO in rebellion against God, results in a depraved spiritual condition and total involvement with darkness viewpoint. This produces stumbling in every area of life.

5. and be broken: This word gives us a transition to the physical judgment on the nation.

A. There is an inner BROKENNESS of frustration and misery.
B. But there is also the brokenness of being physically dominated by a foreign nation.

6. and snared: This refers to being trapped by foreign invasion

7. And taken captive: This refers to total destruction of the national structure through the ruin of national resources and the enslavement of the people, who will be taken away to slavery in a foreign country.

8. This condition was avoided in 711 BC through returning to trust in Yahweh, but the generation that rejects the advent of the Messiah will not recover.


1. The message of the prophet was given in a way that imitated a Gentile guttural language.

2. The message was one of spiritual and national rest based on relationship and fellowship with Yahweh Messiah.

3. But since the message is rejected, it becomes one of judgment, both spiritual and national.

4. The prophecy has a two-fold application.

A. At the present in 713-711 BC, if the message, delivered by Isaiah in an imitation Gentile language, is not heeded, the nation will be disciplined and lose its priesthood responsibility during that time of discipline.

B. If the message is heeded, the threat of foreign invasion will be removed and blessing and prosperity will result.

C. In a future generation, the message of rest, when delivered in Gentile languages, will accomplish the same thing.

1. Acceptance equals spiritual and national blessing.
2. Rejection equals national discipline and temporary removal of priestly function.

5. The prophetic message in Gentile languages, thus becomes a sign of potential national discipline and priestly replacement.

6. The difference between the two generations is that in 711 BC, the nation will recover and return to yahweh, but in the future generation, the nation will not recover.

A. They will be placed under the 5th cycle of discipline and be dispersed throughout the Roman empire.

B. Their priestly function will be taken from them and given to another group; a spiritual nation, comprised of both Jews and Gentiles.

7. This prophecy views only the generation of 711 BC and the one that witnesses the arrival of Messiah. The national discipline of 605-536 BC is bypassed by the prophet.

8. Most prophetic passages deal with an immediate crisis and applies to one or both of the Messiah's advents, without focusing on subsequent crises in the nation's history.

Verses 14-15 Specific Application to the Hezekiah generation

Verse 14

1. Therefore: Because of the reality of judgment through national discipline.

2. Hear the word of Yahweh: Divine provision for avoidance of judgment.

3. O scoffers: men of lAtson - mockery and derision

A. Indicates the attitude and expression of Israel's leadership.
B. They reject divine viewpoint.
C. They embrace darkness viewpoint and mock divine viewpoint.

4. Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem:
This identifies the rulers and the Southern kingdom

Verse 15

1. Because you have said: Not only do they express their open adherence to darkness viewpoint and policy, but using the message of Isaiah, they mock divine policy.

2. We have made a covenant with death:

A. This is a reference to the military alliance with Egypt of verse 30:2.
B. Such an alliance has been clearly denounced by Isaiah (V. 20:3-6).

1. It is not divine policy
2. Egypt will become neutralized and unable to help anyway.

C. Accordingly, the leaders mock such a pronouncement by using sarcasm. Isaiah has told them that their covenant with Egypt will only result in death. They take that concept and mock by saying, "We have made a covenant with death" and it will deliver us.

3. And with the grave we have made a pact: poetic repetition for emphasis. The grave is the place of death.

4. The overwhelming (overflowing) scourge: Using Isaiah's description of the Assyrian army as found at verse 2, they continue to mock by saying that this scourge will not reach to them.

A. Overflowing: shAtaph - qal participle
B. scourge: the word shot means a whip, but the emphasis is on a severe calamity that comes upon them. The use of the word, whip, may be mocking the idea of divine discipline that Isaiah claims is coming upon them.

5. Will not reach us when it passes by.
This expresses confidence in their human viewpoint solution.

6. For we have made falsehood: kAzAph refers to something that is contrary to truth and therefore constitutes deviation from divine viewpoint standards. This is still sarcasm that ridicules Isaiah's criticism of their chosen attitudes and actions.

7. Our refuge: machseh refers to a shelter or protection.
This is the opposite of what Isaiah proclaimed in verse 6.

8. And we have concealed ourselves: sAthar communicates protection by being totally shut away from any pressure and crisis.

9. With deception (sheqer): Human viewpoint always provides a false, deceptive comfort, security, hope and solution. This deception can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but always produces some kind of denial or sublimation instead of comprehension of the crisis and a true solution to the crisis.

Verses 16-17a Messiah's future arrival and the new priestly house

Verse 16

1. Therefore: Because the Hezekiah generation has rejected the plan of God for them, AND because the future Messiah generation will do the same, God here prophesies of the coming of the Messiah and the new priestly house that He will build.

2. Behold: hina, again requests intense concentration as required in order to understand this Messianic prophecy.

3. I am laying in Zion: This refers to the nation of Israel
The Messiah is first presented to the nation of Israel (to the Jew first, and also to the Gentiles, Romans 1:16) as the agent of both national and spiritual deliverance.

4. A stone: ebhen is explained in context as a foundation stone.

A. This hints at the building of a structure.
B. It builds on past revelation and should be a reminder to them.

1. In Isaiah 8:12-15, a parallel crisis, 36 years before in 738 BC
2. Psalm 118:2-24, A Psalm that deals with Israel as the priestly evangelistic agency of God.

C. Thus, the stone is personified and refers to the Messiah.
D. The reference to the stone has a 2-fold application.

1. Dependence on the character of Yahweh/Messiah in 711 BC.
2. Recognition of Messiah's person at His first advent.

E. Application to 711 BC (cf. Isaiah 8:11-15)

1. Messiah as the stone is the source of either - 

a. divine discipline through invasion by a foreign nation.
b. stability and victory in the midst of the crisis.

2. Trust in Messiah, then, removes the national discipline and is the basis for a new beginning of priestly service by Israel.

F. Application to the Messiah generation (Romans 9:33; 10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6; Matthew 21:42-44)

1. Messiah as the stone, becomes the foundation for a new priestly house because the old one (Israel) will be destroyed.

2. Participation in the new house depends on acceptance of the stone - the Messiah.

3. Rejection of the stone results in national discipline (5th cycle) and removal of priestly responsibility.

4. The nation is set aside under the 5th cycle, and a new house is built with all who accept the stone, from among both Jew and Gentile.

5. The sign that this is about to happen is when the message of the priestly representative is given in Gentile languages.

5. A tested stone: bochan, means examined and approved. That is, found qualified. This is the result of Messiah's first advent ministry. (Isaiah 11:1-4a; 52:13 - 53:12)

6. A valuable cornerstone: yAqAr, communicates unique value, as in the cornerstone, of which there is only one and it is different from the others.

7. Firmly placed: yAsadh (piel participle) indicates that nothing can dislodge it. Cf. Psalm 8:3

8. He who believes in it: Aman (hiphil participle, hamaamiyn) indicates trust and dependence upon the Messiah.

9. Will not be disturbed (lo yAchiysh): The verb is chush as a hiphil imperfect plus the negative.

A. As a qal, it means to make haste.
B. As a hiphil, it means to be caused to make haste, to be rushed, to be intimidated or moved.

C. With the negative (lo), it means that this person shall not be moved or intimidated. This refers to true spiritual stability based on relationship with Yahweh and also indicates deliverance from the national crisis that is at hand.

1. In the Hezekiah generation, those who trust in Yahweh, will be delivered from the national crisis of the Assyrian invasion.

2. In the Messiah generation, those who trust in Messiah, will not perish with the nation when it is destroyed and scattered by Rome.

Verse 17a The restoration of priestly representation through the promotion of justice and righteousness.

When the nation recovers from her lapse into spiritual apostasy, there will be a renewed promotion of truth in the land and a proclamation of the Messianic prophecy.

1. And I will make justice: misphAt refers to the administration of reward and punishment based on adherence to absolute standards for both morality and worship activity.

2. Measuring line: An instrument of construction. The instrument that will be used to reestablish priestly function will be justice.

3. And righteousness: tsedAqAh refers to the standards God has designed for proper interaction with both God and people.

4. The level: Another instrument of construction

5. The two-fold application:

A. In 711 BC, spiritual revival produces adherence to the principles of justice and righteousness which will build a new beginning for the Southern kingdom in its priestly representation. This new beginning will give the nation 106 more years before the 5th cycle is administered in 605 BC.

B. In the Messiah's generation, the nation will reject Him and as a result go out under the 5th cycle. Their priestly responsibility will be taken away from them and their cities and temple will be destroyed. But with the remnant of all those who do accept the Messiah, He will build a new priestly body based on justice and righteousness (1 Peter 2:5-10).

1. It will be built on the justice of God's redemptive program through the sin sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah.

2. It will be built on the righteousness of God which will be imputed to all those who accept the justice of God's plan and trust in the Messiah's sin sacrifice.

Verses 17b-22 Discipline on the nation if it fails to recover

Verse 17b The improper function of the priestly house is removed.

1. The hail shall sweep away: This is the destruction worked by the invading army.
2. The refuge of lies: the machseh kAsabh of verse 15.

A. From a physical standpoint, Egypt will be neutralized and the land devastated.

B. From a spiritual standpoint, the human viewpoint solutions will be exposed as worthless.

3. And waters shall overflow: This indicates exposure and destruction.

4. The secret place: sather refers to the place of concealment mentioned in verse 15. There will be no protection from the crisis apart from trust in God's character and viewpoint.

Verse 18

1. And your covenant with death: their dependence on human viewpoint solutions.
2. Shall be canceled: Divine sarcasm that takes their sarcasm and throws it back upon them.

A. their human viewpoint solution will fail.
B. But death and the grave will still be recompensed.

3. And your pact with the grave shall not stand.
4. When the overflowing scourge passes through: Refers to the invading armies of Assyria.

5. then you become its trampling place: National discipline administered by foreign invasion.
But this is dealing in principle and as a warning.
They can still be delivered by returning to yahweh (Verse 30:15ff).

Verses 19-22 The terror from foreign invasion

Verse 19

1. As often as it passes through: back and forth through all the cities of the land as indicated at verse 36:1.

2. Day or night: constant threat
3. And only terror to understand the message:

A. The message is foreign invasion and domination.
B. The terror is pillage, killing, rape, and concern for what is to come in the future.

Verse 20

"The bed is too short on which to stretch out
and the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in."

These are idioms for restlessness caused by worry and fear.

Verse 21 Yahweh's work: National discipline through foreign invasion

1. For Yahweh will mount up: This is a reference to the fact that it is divine design behind the judgment on Israel.

2. AS at Mount Perazim: This is a reference to the incidents of 2 Samuel 5:17-25.
Related to the overflowing flood of verse 2 and 17 (2 Sam 5:20).

3. AS in the valley of Gibeon: The incidents of Joshua 10:1-14.

This relates to the hail storm of verse 2 and 17 (Joshua 10:11).

4. In the same powerful way that God helped Israel in the past, so He will now show Himself powerful to discipline them.

5. To do His task, His task is strange: zur (qal participle)
This word is used to indicate something one is not accustomed to.
His task is unusual; it is a rare occurrence.
It is something that is not in conformity with national priesthood.

6. To work His work; His work is alien: nAkriy (foreign)
This is used to indicate something that is not of your nation.
The work that is to be done, is not common to the nation's normal activity.
His work is foreign

A. Accomplished by a foreign nation
B. Foreign to the immediate welfare of the nation.
C. Foreign to the nation's past priestly function.
D. And this is exactly what happens in 70 AD as a result of the nation's failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Verse 22

1. And now: This takes us back to the present situation, confirms the potential for either deliverance or defeat.

2. Do not carry on as scoffers: They are to cease the attitudes and actions of verses 14-15.

3. Lest your fetters be made stronger:

A. fetters: foreign harassment during previous cycles of discipline, and specifically the 4th cycle.

B. Made stronger: this refers to intensification of national discipline based on Leviticus 26, "7 times greater." The experience of the 4th cycle will escalate into the 5th cycle and result in national destruction and dispersion.

C. This was avoided in 711 BC through the Hezekiah revival, but will not be avoided in the Messiah generation, when the nation as a whole, will reject the person and work of the Messiah in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, which will result in the destruction of the temple and the dispersion of the people all throughout the Roman empire.

4. For I have heard from the Lord Yahweh of hosts, about decisive destruction on all the land. This refers to the vivid revelation that Isaiah received about Assyria's potential devastation of the land with application to the Messiah generation, when the nation will be challenged by Messiah's presence and message.

When that challenge is faced and failed by the nation of Israel in 30 AD, God will reject them as His evangelistic representative on the earth (Matthew 21:43; Deuteronomy 32:21), and institute the gift of languages as a sign to them that they are about to be displaced by a new nation that will bring forth the fruits of the kingdom.

This is fulfilled initially on the Day of Pentecost, and is recorded at Acts 2:1-40





İRon Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


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