Isaiah 33

Listen to Isaiah 33
1 What sorrow awaits you Assyrians, who have destroyed others but have never been destroyed yourselves. You betray others, but you have never been betrayed. When you are done destroying, you will be destroyed. When you are done betraying, you will be betrayed.
2 But LORD, be merciful to us, for we have waited for you. Be our strong arm each day and our salvation in times of trouble.
3 The enemy runs at the sound of your voice. When you stand up, the nations flee!
4 Just as caterpillars and locusts strip the fields and vines, so the fallen army of Assyria will be stripped!
5 Though the LORD is very great and lives in heaven, he will make Jerusalem his home of justice and righteousness.
6 In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD will be your treasure.
7 But now your brave warriors weep in public. Your ambassadors of peace cry in bitter disappointment.
8 Your roads are deserted; no one travels them anymore. The Assyrians have broken their peace treaty and care nothing for the promises they made before witnesses. They have no respect for anyone.
9 The land of Israel wilts in mourning. Lebanon withers with shame. The plain of Sharon is now a wilderness. Bashan and Carmel have been plundered.
10 But the LORD says: “Now I will stand up. Now I will show my power and might.
11 You Assyrians produce nothing but dry grass and stubble. Your own breath will turn to fire and consume you.
12 Your people will be burned up completely, like thornbushes cut down and tossed in a fire.
13 Listen to what I have done, you nations far away! And you that are near, acknowledge my might!”
14 The sinners in Jerusalem shake with fear. Terror seizes the godless. “Who can live with this devouring fire?” they cry. “Who can survive this all-consuming fire?”
15 Those who are honest and fair, who refuse to profit by fraud, who stay far away from bribes, who refuse to listen to those who plot murder, who shut their eyes to all enticement to do wrong—
16 these are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will be their fortress. Food will be supplied to them, and they will have water in abundance.
17 Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor, and you will see a land that stretches into the distance.
18 You will think back to this time of terror, asking, “Where are the Assyrian officers who counted our towers? Where are the bookkeepers who recorded the plunder taken from our fallen city?”
19 You will no longer see these fierce, violent people with their strange, unknown language.
20 Instead, you will see Zion as a place of holy festivals. You will see Jerusalem, a city quiet and secure. It will be like a tent whose ropes are taut and whose stakes are firmly fixed.
21 The LORD will be our Mighty One. He will be like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross, that no enemy ship can sail upon.
22 For the LORD is our judge, our lawgiver, and our king. He will care for us and save us.
23 The enemies’ sails hang loose on broken masts with useless tackle. Their treasure will be divided by the people of God. Even the lame will take their share!
24 The people of Israel will no longer say, “We are sick and helpless,” for the LORD will forgive their sins.

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Isaiah 33 Commentary

Chapter 33

God's judgments against the enemies of his church. (1-14) The happiness of his people. (15-24)

Verses 1-14 Here we have the proud and false destroyer justly reckoned with for all his fraud and violence. The righteous God often pays sinners in their own coin. Those who by faith humbly wait for God, shall find him gracious to them; as the day, so let the strength be. If God leaves us to ourselves any morning, we are undone; we must every morning commit ourselves to him, and go forth in his strength to do the work of the day. When God arises, his enemies are scattered. True wisdom and knowledge lead to strength of salvation, which renders us stedfast in the ways of God; and true piety is the only treasure which can never be plundered or spent. The distress Jerusalem was brought into, is described. God's time to appear for his people, is, when all other helpers fail. Let all who hear what God has done, acknowledge that he can do every thing. Sinners in Zion will have much to answer for, above other sinners. And those that rebel against the commands of the word, cannot take its comforts in time of need. His wrath will burn those everlastingly who make themselves fuel for it. It is a fire that shall never be quenched, nor ever go out of itself; it is the wrath of an ever-living God preying on the conscience of a never-dying soul.

Verses 15-24 The true believer watches against all occasions of sin. The Divine power will keep him safe, and his faith in that power will keep him easy. He shall want nothing needful for him. Every blessing of salvation is freely bestowed on all that ask with humble, believing prayer; and the believer is safe in time and for ever. Those that walk uprightly shall not only have bread given, and their water sure, but they shall, by faith, see the King of kings in his beauty, the beauty of holiness. The remembrance of the terror they were in, shall add to the pleasure of their deliverance. It is desirable to be quiet in our own houses, but much more so to be quiet in God's house; and in every age Christ will have a seed to serve him. Jerusalem had no large river running by it, but the presence and power of God make up all wants. We have all in God, all we need, or can desire. By faith we take Christ for our Prince and Saviour; he reigns over his redeemed people. All that refuse to have Him to reign over them, make shipwreck of their souls. Sickness is taken away in mercy, when the fruit of it is the taking away of sin. If iniquity be taken away, we have little reason to complain of outward affliction. This last verse leads our thoughts, not only to the most glorious state of the gospel church on earth, but to heaven, where no sickness or trouble can enter. He that blotteth out our transgressions, will heal our souls.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Hebrew What sorrow awaits you, O destroyer. The Hebrew text does not specifically name Assyria as the object of the prophecy in this chapter.
  • [b]. Hebrew Zion; also in 33:14 .
  • [c]. As in Dead Sea Scrolls; Masoretic Text reads care nothing for the cities.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO ISAIAH 33

This chapter contains an account of God's judgments upon the enemies of his people, and of the peaceable, comfortable, and happy state of the church in the latter day. The judgment denounced, Isa 33:1 a prayer of the church for safety and protection, which it promises itself from what God had heretofore done, Isa 33:2,3 an answer to it, declaring the spoil of the enemy, and the happy times the people of God should enjoy through his appearance for them, Isa 33:4-6 though previous thereunto there would be very distressing ones, Isa 33:7-9 when the Lord resolves to arise and exert his power in the destruction of the people, who should be burnt up like stubble, thorns, and lime, Isa 33:10-12 persons far and near are called upon to take notice of this, Isa 33:13 which would issue in a different manner, in the surprise and terror of hypocrites, and in the safety and plenty of provisions for good men, who are described, Isa 33:14-16 and then follow promises to them, of seeing the King in his beauty, and beholding a distant country of reflecting on past terror with pleasure, being freed from it, and in no danger of a foreign enemy, Isa 33:17-19 and the chapter is concluded with a famous prophecy of the peace, prosperity, and safety of the church, and of the healthfulness of its inhabitants, under the protection of Christ, its King and Lawgiver, its enemies being also an easy prey to it, Isa 33:20-24.

Isaiah 33 Commentaries