The author begins by advising people not to rely on the strength of human armies, but instead to rely on the lord for help. Wonder how that advice worked out. And the lord will bring ‘great disaster’ (NLT) or ‘evil’ (KJV) in v 2. I wonder why the translators changed the word ‘evil’ – trying to avoid it? Then follows the usual threats of more disasters. Ho-hum.
Here comes the Messianic prophesy again – a righteous king is coming! And on that day, everyone will see the truth clearly. Etc. And then v 9-14 foretells coming disaster, followed by restoration (v 15-20).
Chapters 1–33 supposedly project judgement and restoration for Judah, Jerusalem and the nations, so this concludes the first half of the book. And that seems to make sense, because this chapter contains a final rant against Assyria (v 1-4); a promise to restore Jerusalem from its devastation (v 5-13); and a promise to punish the bad guys and reward the righteous (v 14-24).
We begin the second section of Isaiah. Chapters 34–66 presuppose that judgement has already taken place and restoration is at hand. So things should start to look brighter, hopefully? Haha – not yet. In v 2-3, Yahweh is slaughtering people; their unburied bodies stink and the mountains run with their blood. Yup, it’s that graphic. And get this lovely science lesson in v 4: “The heavens above will melt away and disappear like a rolled-up scroll. The stars will fall from the sky like withered leaves…” Oh man, can this get any worse? In v 6-7, the sword of god will come down on Edom, it’s drenched with blood and covered with fat from animal sacrifices; even men as strong as unicorns will die; the land will be soaked with blood and the soil enriched with fat. Enough, already! And what about those unicorns (changed in modern translations to ‘wild oxen’)? Do I have a link for you – check this out 😉
God’s vengeance continues – The streams will be filled with burning pitch, and the ground will be covered with fire… the smoke of its burning will rise forever. The land will lie deserted from generation to generation.” (v 9-10). Edom will be called the Land of Nothing; it will become a home for wild animals, including dragons and satyrs (v 12-14). This is one sick book.
Now we get to the restoration. The deserts will bloom and the lord will display his glory. “And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!” (v 5-6). Musicians will recognize these verses from Handel’s Messiah. But here’s a curious thing – the alto recitative with these lyrics is immediately followed by the aria ‘He Shall Feed His Flock’, and I always thought that they fit together. But no – the feeding the flock lyrics come from chapter 40, so they are unrelated and Handel just stuck them together because they sounded nice, I guess. And neither referred to Jesus, at least at the time of writing. Wow. My eyes have sure been opened.
We’re not done with chapter 35 yet. “A great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness.” (v 8) – and there follows an explanation that no evil people walk on it; it is only for people who follow god’s ways, etc. So some Christian nutjobs decided in 2007 that this is US Hwy I-35, and they held prayer rallies on it. Wonder how that worked out for them? I swear I couldn’t make this stuff up.