A time will come when God’s people are attacked. If they are not trusing in God they will be put to flight. What if they are trusting steadfastly in the Lord? Then along will come the true and mighty God, putting his enemies to flight.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 30” pp. 252-268.
Luther notes a very harsh tone in Isaiah 30. This indicates to him that there is a situation at the time of Isaiah which requires very close attention and will be the primary means of interpretation of the passage. (LW 16, 252). Verse one makes it clear that the children of Israel are rebellious against God. They are making plans which are counter to God’s revealed will. Their plan is to seek refuge and protection in Egypt (v. 2), but that will be futile (v. 3). The protection of princes and kings is known to be unreliable. God is the one who can be relied upon (LW 16, 253). Verses four through six continue to describe the futility of spending the time, effort, and expense needed to try to forge an alliance with Egypt. Egypt, referred to in verse seven as “Rahab,” will not protect Israel (LW 16, 255). God has Isaiah write his prophecy. Luther notes numerous instances of God giving concrete, tactile signs, including writing. Those signs will be ignored by the dwellers of Jerusalem who wish the prophet to be silenced. Luther interprets this as a foreshadowing of his experience. In his time, the leaders of the Roman church did not wish the Reformers to speak or be heard (LW 16, 256). By verse 11 the people wish to hear anything but the message about the true God.
In verse 12 God threatens the people of Israel “with a punishment which applies to all the ungodly, that suddenly and unexpectedly destruction will come upon them and that their solace will vanish ever so quickly” (LW 16, 257). What the people trust in will prove to destroy them.
The people of Israel are not entirely without hope, though. In verse 15 it becomes clear that if they believe the words of the prophet they will be saved from disaster. They will, in fact, be rescued from warfare by resting in the Lord rather than striving. This Luther calls “an outstanding, golden, and magnificent promise” (LW 16, 258). He suggests that in every instance a patient and peaceful holding to the truth will win (LW 16, 259).
The people of Israel are not willing to wait. Therefore Isaiah goes on in verses 16-17 to describe their trouble. Even a small force of Assyrians will be able to overcome a large group of Israelites. There is a promise, though, in verse 18. God waits on his people to repent so he can show mercy. “He is not a raging and destroying God but a God of justice and of mercy” (LW 16, 260). As they trust in God they can remain in Jerusalem in peace (v. 19). Luther interprets verse 20, “the Lord will give you the bread of adversity” to mean that God will multiply the provisions of the people. The adversaries will expect them to fail but God will care for his people (LW 16, 261). This provision comes as the people hear God’s word.
Hearing God’s word will create change in the people’s attitude. In verse 22 they despise their idols and cast them away. Luther considers that as people learn to trust in Christ they will cast out their traditions and the other things they would trust rather than Jesus (LW 16, 262). Luther points out that both depending on the show of godliness through great ceremony or through lack of ceremony is a failure to trust Jesus (LW 16, 263).
The result of trusting in God purely will be peace and prosperity. Verses 24 and following describe abundance and peace. This Luther says is received by faith (LW 16, 264). It is not always visible, especially when we are under pressure. But God is never under pressure. He is the one who does not fail. Verse 26 speaks of a realm of light. Luther applies this to the period of the New Testament, when we can see God clearly in Christ (LW 16, 265). The prophecy of God’s coming in anger speaks of God rescuing his people and shattering the strength of the enemy. As the chapter closes, God defeats all his enemies by himself.
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