Isaiah Blog 11: Chapters 30-33.

Self help is no help at all

Sunday 9 December 2012 11.00am

Act V Scene 3 is the entirety of Chapter 30. The background remains the struggle between God and the Judean leaders. He calls them to trust him and discern what he is doing; they are determined to follow their own plans. The fullness of their foolishness will be seen in Chapters 31 and 32 where their attempts to shield themselves from the growing Babylonian power to the East by alliances with Egypt to the West are roundly condemned as futile.

Here in verses 1-18 the theme of rebellious children from 1:2 is taken up. Egypt is not to be relied on. It will prove as fragile as a clay pot; no amount of swift riding will escape their pursuers.[1]

Do they not recognize that ‘in returning and rest, you shall be saved, in quietness and in trust shall be your strength’ – but they refused!

The promise is repeated: ‘The Lord waits to be gracious to you, therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of Justice; blessed are those who wait on him.’ The character of their God has not changed – sadly neither has theirs![2]

The second part of the chapter, 19-26, is addressed not to the political leaders as in 1-18 but to the people gathered in Jerusalem for the Festival. Taught, perhaps, in the temple court, it is a promise of God’s care built round a reminder of the second commandment.

You shall weep no more – even though God gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction you will know your Teacher – you will hear a voice behind you ‘This is the way; walk in it.’[3]

When they follow the second commandment and get rid of their idols, then God will bring a day of promise and the towers will fall – he will heal the wounds he inflicted (for their own good).

The final part of the chapter[4] is a clear delineation of the ‘Coming of the Lord’ –  an Advent Psalm if you like. God will bring justice.

Chapters 32 and 33[5] expand the theme of the foolishness of depending on Egypt and of the necessity to depend on God.

It foreshadows the release of Judah from Assyria’s power (or anyone’s) but there will not be new Kings; instead, The Lord will be King.[6]


[1] Whether in this context this is to be seen as a reference to the Babylonians or to God himself is hard to determine. But the emphasis is on their refusal to follow God’s plans and seek their own instead.

[2] 30:18

[3] 30:19-21

[4] 30:27-33

[5] Scenes 4 and 5 of Act V.

[6] 33:22