A reading of Isaiah 17 may well urge us to ask some important questions. Who do we trust? Where do we look for support? How do we encourage our neighbors to right action and belief?
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 17” pp. 154-157.
Luther makes the interesting observation about a change of topic in Isaiah 17 which could easily be passed over in a casual reading. “In that prophecy against Damascus he devoted himself more to the guilt and captivity of the kingdom of Israel, because the king of Israel had made a covenant with Syria against the kingdom of Judah, that is, was thus more closely joined to Gentiles than to Jews, yes, put more confidence in ungodly men than in God, and Judah suffered harm at the hands of its brothers, so to say” (LW 16, 154). Though Damascus in Syria will suffer calamity, Israel will take part in it as well, due to Israel’s complicity in Damascus’ ungodliness. Syria, in whom Israel trusted, will no longer serve as her protector (v. 3).Typical of Isaiah, there will again be a remnant (v. 7). “This is what happens when the Lord rebukes the ungodly and the proud. The remnant learn righteousness; they are upright. Certainly, then, the man who will have been left and who will have survived the punishment will be turned to the Lord, and the idols and their empty worship will be forsaken” (LW 16, 155). It is God, the “helper” (v. 10), who gives increase and blessing as well as troubles. The planting of verse 10 is an attempt at increase by human effort, regardless of God. This brings them woe and desolation (LW 16, 156).
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