Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers that write perverseness; to turn aside the needy from justice, and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!
And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far?
to whom will ye flee for help? and
where will you leave your glory?
They shall only bow down under the prisoners, and shall fall under the slain.
For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.Isaiah 10:1-4 ASV
The first four verses of this chapter could have been logically included with the previous chapter, since they form the fourth stanza, following the first three in Isaiah 9.
Of course, it should be remembered that both chapter and verse divisions in the Bible are in many instances arbitrary and illogical; but long usage has made it a practical impossibility to change or correct them.
The present division into chapters was made by Cardinal Hugo in 1250 A.D.; and into verses, by Robert Stephens the famous printer of Paris, in 1551 A.D.
The stubbornness of Ephraim is almost unbelievable; for no matter what disasters overcame the nation they persisted in following their idolatrous, shameful rebellion against the Lord.
The great difference between Ephraim and Judah was in the existence of a righteous remnant in the Southern Israel; whereas, in Northern Israel, the Lord said, “Everyone is profane and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly” (Isaiah 9:17).
An overview of these four stanzas, or strophes, will reveal the totality and dreadful finality of the prophecy:
THE DOOM OF EPHRAIM (ISAIAH 9:8-10:4)
Strophe One, Isaiah 9:8-12
This is a judgment against Ephraim for laughing off the facts, for mocking reality, and for their egotistical bragging about how they would overcome God’s punishments. If bricks and sycamores are destroyed, Ephraim will replace them with hewn stones and cedars!
Strophe Two, Isaiah 9:13-17
Here is a judgment against permissiveness, error, and false leadership. The eloquent comparison of crooked priests to the tail of a dog shows that it was the departure from God’s truth that caused their apostasy.
Strophe Three, Isaiah 9:18-21
Here is a judgment against disunity, internal discord and strife. With even their former allies at last turning against Ephraim, and with the Ten Tribes fighting against each other, their final ruin would follow in the deportation of the heart of the nation to Assyria. This took place in 722 B.C.
Strophe Four, Isaiah 10:1-4
This judgment is against the central government and the judiciary, against those who made and administered the laws.
It has often been observed that when these arms of human society fail, there can remain little hope for that society.
Although these prophecies against Ephraim were principally focused upon the Northern Israel, they also spilled over in their application to Judah also.
God’s anger at all of Israel’s pride and wickedness was approaching the flash point.
Before leaving these first four verses, we wish to notice somewhat further the question:
WHERE WILL YOU LEAVE YOUR GLORY?
This is the third in a series of questions regarding ultimate values as contrasted with that which is earthly, temporary, and ephemeral.
What will it be worth to you in the Day of Judgment? and, how is it going to help you when calamity comes upon you?” our Lord raised the same soul-searching question when he addressed the rich fool of Luke 12:20: “Whose shall those things be?” (KJV) “You cannot save them. With whom will ye deposit your riches, your magnificence, your treasures, your grand apparel? Is there anyone to whom you can flee? anyone who can protect you from the wrath of God?”