The Old Testament reading for Thursday, February 22 is:

Isaiah 31–32 (Listen)

Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt

31:1   Woe1 to those who go down to Egypt for help
    and rely on horses,
  who trust in chariots because they are many
    and in horsemen because they are very strong,
  but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
    or consult the LORD!
  And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
    he does not call back his words,
  but will arise against the house of the evildoers
    and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
  The Egyptians are man, and not God,
    and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
  When the LORD stretches out his hand,
    the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
    and they will all perish together.
  For thus the LORD said to me,
  “As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey,
    and when a band of shepherds is called out against him
  he is not terrified by their shouting
    or daunted at their noise,
  so the LORD of hosts will come down
    to fight2 on Mount Zion and on its hill.
  Like birds hovering, so the LORD of hosts
    will protect Jerusalem;
  he will protect and deliver it;
    he will spare and rescue it.”

Turn to him from whom people3 have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.

  “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man;
    and a sword, not of man, shall devour him;
  and he shall flee from the sword,
    and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
  His rock shall pass away in terror,
    and his officers desert the standard in panic,”
  declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion,
    and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

A King Will Reign in Righteousness

32:1   Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
    and princes will rule in justice.
  Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
    a shelter from the storm,
  like streams of water in a dry place,
    like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
  Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
    and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
  The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
    and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
  The fool will no more be called noble,
    nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
  For the fool speaks folly,
    and his heart is busy with iniquity,
  to practice ungodliness,
    to utter error concerning the LORD,
  to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
    and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
  As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
    he plans wicked schemes
  to ruin the poor with lying words,
    even when the plea of the needy is right.
  But he who is noble plans noble things,
    and on noble things he stands.

Complacent Women Warned of Disaster

  Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
    you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10   In little more than a year
    you will shudder, you complacent women;
  for the grape harvest fails,
    the fruit harvest will not come.
11   Tremble, you women who are at ease,
    shudder, you complacent ones;
  strip, and make yourselves bare,
    and tie sackcloth around your waist.
12   Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
    for the fruitful vine,
13   for the soil of my people
    growing up in thorns and briers,
  yes, for all the joyous houses
    in the exultant city.
14   For the palace is forsaken,
    the populous city deserted;
  the hill and the watchtower
    will become dens forever,
  a joy of wild donkeys,
    a pasture of flocks;
15   until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
    and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
    and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
16   Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
    and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17   And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
    and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust4 forever.
18   My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
    in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
19   And it will hail when the forest falls down,
    and the city will be utterly laid low.
20   Happy are you who sow beside all waters,
    who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.

Footnotes

[1] 31:1 Or Ah,
[2] 31:4 The Hebrew words for hosts and to fight sound alike
[3] 31:6 Hebrew they
[4] 32:17 Or security

(ESV)


English Standard Version: Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

Old Testament Pastoral Commentary for Isaiah 31-32
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
Psalm 20:7 says: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Isaiah must condemn Israel for doing exactly the opposite. Their trust in the forces of Egypt will not save them. No one can outsmart the Holy One of Israel. He is wise and fulfills His threats to punish wickedness. Both His rebellious people and those who try to help them will feel His wrath. The LORD is described as a great lion, undaunted by the Assyrians who like a crowd of shepherds seek to scare Him off. He is also like a bird hovering over its nest to protect Jerusalem. God's only desire is for Israel to throw away their idols of silver and gold and return to Him. Rescue will come, but not by the sword of Egypt. God's ultimate purpose in rescuing His people—to establish His eternal Kingdom—cannot be thwarted, either by the blindness and foolishness of His people, nor by their wickedness or complacency, which Isaiah condemns in the women of Judah. Isaiah calls the women to repent in the face of the Assyrian siege that they will soon experience, before deliverance comes from the LORD. That deliverance, however, would ultimately be replaced by destruction and Jerusalem being deserted, since the Assyrian invasion and siege was only a warning of things to come later, at the time of the Babylonian captivity. In the end however, God's plan and purpose will prevail. His Spirit will be poured out and righteousness will be established. "And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." Jesus' death for the sins of the world will bring righteousness for all who trust in Him, and they will be at peace with God and dwell in quietness forever. The metaphor of hail in verse 19 may refer to the defeat of the enemies of God's Kingdom, in stark contrast to the fate of His own people, who dwell securely.