THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF
THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES
The gift of languages (tongues) is the most misunderstood
and therefore most controversial of all the spiritual gifts. The fact that
it is indeed, a bona fide spiritual gift cannot be disputed. However, tongues
had a very specialized and restricted expression, and it is that specialization
and restriction which has been consistently and harmfully ignored since
very early in the history of the church.
The focus of this treatise is to demonstrate that the
gift of tongues is no longer a functional gift for God's people; that it
served its specific purpose between the years 30 and 70 AD; and that any
manifestation of similar activity in this day and age is at best, involvement
in personal or group emotional ecstatics which produces an un-intelligible
gibberish, or at worse, involvement with demons seeking to distract the
people of God from genuine worship and service. In either case, God is
not glorified and the Lord Jesus Christ is not honored. Jesus taught that
there are many who "prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out
demons, and in Your name perform many miracles," (Mat. 7:22), but
they are unbelievers and they are rejected by Jesus as ones whom He never
knew (Mat. 7:23). Accordingly, it is just as likely that there will be
those who are believers in Jesus, such as those of the Corinthian church
of the first century, who through wrong motives and influence from others,
will get involved in religious activity that is not from God or honoring
to Him. The modern day "tongues movement" is just such an activity.
The key passage for understanding the gift of tongues
is 1 Cor.14:20-22.
From this passage we are referred to the Old Testament and find that the
gift is directly tied in with the nation of Israel and her failure as God's
representative here on earth.
From Exodus 19:5-6 we understand that when God delivered
the people of Israel from Egypt He established her
at that time as an official nation and as a formal
agent to promote the Messianic message within the world.
1. If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant:
The covenant as outlined at Exodus 34:27-28 and Deuteronomy 5:2-21.
It is first the covenant of the Decalogue or the 10 commandments,
and then all the regulations and rituals God gave as amplification of the first 4 commandments which are centered around worship;
and the social and moral guidelines which amplify the last 6.
Notice the two parts of the covenant at Deuteronomy 29:1.
2. Then you shall be my own "treasured possession"
(Hebrew, segullAh) among all the peoples. Israel will
become a nation ruled by God, a Theocratic nation.
This involves special care and protection with emphasis on the nation's physical function and well being.
Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4
3. And a kingdom of priests: this is the issue of service.
Israel is to be a servant to God as a representative of God to others.
Deuteronomy 4:6 and Isaiah 43:10; 44:8; 49:3; Jeremiah 13:11
4. And a holy nation: holy means set apart as special
and different. Israel, by following the law of God
will become a nation that is morally and spiritually
unique; different from all other nations.
This was God's intent for the nation. And the plan was
to center Israel's service in the land of Palestine,
and from there, reach out to other nations. But if the nation ever fails
to fulfill its evangelistic responsibilities, then she will be removed from
the land, placed under a curse and her priestly function
will be assigned to a different group of people.
A. The curse of discipline: Leviticus 26:14-33; Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy 28:63, and it will come about that as YAhweh
delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so YAhweh will delight
over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you shall be torn from
the land where you are entering to possess it.
B. The curse of replacement by another group: Isaiah 65:1,
Deuteronomy 32:21, they have made me jealous with what
is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will
make them jealous with those who are not a people;
I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation (Matthew 21:33-46; 23:37-39).
They substituted something else for the place God was
to have, so God will substitute something else for the place they are supposed
C. The discipline on the nation will be carried out in
five separate cycles according to Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
D. The first three cycles would be administered by God
at many different times throughout Israel's history,
but what is of immediate concern for us is just the 4th and 5th.
See Topic, Israel: National discipline
E. Definition of the 4th cycle of discipline: Leviticus
Basically, it is military occupation by a foreign power (v.25) and the
economic hardships that result (v.26).
F. Definition of the 5th cycle of discipline: Leviticus
1. Total destruction of the national structure, v.31-32
2. Removal of the people from the land, v.33.
The nation of Israel flirted with God's justice all throughout
it's history. In fact, we find at Deuteronomy 9:7,
"Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD
your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land
of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against
And so, through an ever increasing spiral of rebellion
and failure to fulfill its divine commission, the
nation faced the 4th cycle of discipline on several occasions, and in time, the 5th cycle as well.
It was 263 years after the division of the nation into
the Southern and Northern kingdoms that the Northern
kingdom was placed under the 5th cycle at the hands of Assyria in the year
719 BC. But it was not until 605 BC that God administered the 5th cycle
upon the Southern kingdom via the Babylonian captivity. That discipline
lasted only 70 years and served as a shadow of another time of discipline
that would come in the future when the nation would reject the Messiah
who would be presented to them.
It is in reference to the nation's commission and failure
that we see the gift of tongues provided. As indicated
earlier, the key is found at 1 Corinthians 14:20-22.
Here, Paul reminds them of the true function of the gift
in order to offset any misinformation and the abuse
and misuse that may result.
1. Brethren, do not become children in thinking
refers to the act and the process of thinking). The emphasis is on "immaturity"
and incompletion in ones perception of a certain set
of facts, which of course, is the subject at hand.
It speaks of having a deficiency because one has not "grown
up" through proper learning and acceptance of
2. Yet in evil be babes: this is a parenthetical aside
from the subject in order to establish a specific
subject matter. It is actually desirable to be "deficient"
in the area of evil. But Paul wants to stress the
idea of "not" being deficient in the area
of "knowledge" and the thinking enablement (discernment) that
results from having accurate facts. However, the clear implication is that Paul certainly views the Corinthian fabrication of a
"universal" gift of tongues as evil.
3. But in your thinking become mature: teleios means mature
The use of the word, become (ginomai) indicates that they need to be re-taught
the true facts about the gift of tongues in light
of the distorted view and imitation practice in the church.
In verse 21, Paul provides an historical orientation.
He references the Old testament to show the original
purpose for the gift.
1. In the law it is written: reference to "God's"
law in general, as revealed in the Old Testament.
And thus, the book of Isaiah qualifies. He quotes Isaiah 28:11.
2. By men of foreign tongues and by the lips of strangers
I will speak to this people, and even so they will
not listen to me.
3. It is necessary therefore that we study the quote within
the context of its original setting. Isaiah 28:1-22
4. The overall context extends from chapter 28 through
33 in a section that can be designated as the Book of Woes.
5. It was written c.713-712 BC as a warning to the Southern
kingdom of Judah that God was about to discipline
them and remove them from the place of their evangelistic
and priestly function.
6. The Northern kingdom of Israel had already been placed
under a three-stage administration of discipline which
began in 736 BC and would culminate in 673 BC with
a total loss of national identity.
7. The "fading crown" of Ephraim (the Northern
kingdom) is used by God in Isaiah 28 as a teaching
aid to the people of the Southern kingdom in order
to snap them out of their rebellion so that they can escape
the overflowing scourge of the Assyrian invasion and avoid the same fate
as the Northern Kingdom.
8. Assyria invades the Southern kingdom in 711 BC, but
because of the Hezekiah revival, the nation is spared,
Assyria is driven back by the intervention of God
and the nation escapes destruction for 120 years.
9. But as is the case all throughout the book of Isaiah,
the historical situation is used by God to teach about
conditions that will exist and events that will take
place during one or both of the two advents of the Messiah.
10. The two advents of the Messiah are discussed frequently
in Isaiah and often times without distinction between them. One of the
primary concerns to the bible student then, should be diligence in making
and preserving that distinction between the Messiah's
11. In this section (28-33) we find application to both
advents of the Messiah. One such application is that God uses the threat
of national discipline on the Southern kingdom to
give a prophetic sign and warning to the generation that will live at Messiah's
first advent. That sign and warning is the gift of
12. As we will see, the sign is for both blessing and
Blessing if the nation will accept their Messiah and cursing if the nation does not accept Him.
1. Isaiah covers a period from 755 to 696 BC - 59 years.
Isaiah 1:1 with 6:1
From Uzziah's (good king) death, through Jotham (good
king) for 16 years, Ahaz (bad king) for 16 years, and Hezekiah (good king)
for 29 years.
2. The subject is the spiritual and moral condition of
the Southern kingdom of Israel, called Judah. But although the book was
written TO Judah, it also deals with other nations including the Northern
kingdom of Israel (Samaria).
SEE topic: Israel, the Division of the kingdom
3. Chapters 1-5: the prediction of and reasons for the
4th and 5th cycles of discipline on Judah.
A. Review 5 cycles of discipline via Leviticus 26.
B. Reason: progress of apostasy since king Rehoboam
C. Prediction: Fulfilled in 605 BC and 586 BC by the Chaldean empire under
4. Chapter 6: the call and commission of Isaiah in about
5. Chapters 7-12: Southern kingdom under Ahaz (738-722
A. War with Syria and the Northern Kingdom (738-736 BC).
B. Alliance with Assyria (736-711 BC).
C. Northern kingdom alliance with Assyria from 768 to 736 BC.
D. Southern kingdom had alliance with Assyria from 738 to 736 BC.
E. Southern kingdom under 4th cycle of discipline by Assyria from 736 to 725 BC. The 4th cycle of national discipline is when
a foreign nation places economic and geographical controls on another
nation to such an extent that the foreign government actually becomes the
dictator over the affairs of the invaded nation.
6. Chapters 13-27: Various nations dealt with. Given in
c. 713 BC. Isaiah 20:1
7. Chapters 28-33: The Book of Woes
A. Written in c. 713-712 BC and deals with the Southern
B. This section deals with the Imminency of foreign invasion leading to
the 4th and 5th cycles of discipline.
C. But because of spiritual revival in 711 BC, the nation
will be spared, and Assyria will be judged and neutralized.
D. The 4th cycle does not occur again until 608-605 BC
under Egypt and Pharoah Neco (609-593 BC).
E. In 605 BC, Chaldea, under Nebuchadnezzar, administrates
the 5th cd.
1. This includes 70 years captivity. 605-536 BC
2. And the 70 years desolations of Jerusalem. 586-516
BC (Zechariah 1:12)
3. The 5th cycle ends in 536 BC but the city and the temple
are not rebuilt until 516 BC.
F. But the issue in this section is the apostasy of the
Southern kingdom, national discipline and national recovery in 711 BC.
8. The immediate lesson from this section is the insignificance
of religion and human viewpoint in contrast to the all sufficiency of divine
9. Chapters 34-35: Prophetic of the Day of the Lord and
10. Chapters 36-39: Historical record reflecting the prophecies
of chapters 28-33.
11. Chapters 40-66: Given after the crisis of 711 BC,
and deals with the establishment and blessings of Messiah's kingdom.
Verses 1-4, relates the progress of national discipline
on the Northern Kingdom of Israel (called Ephraim).
1. Woe: the word, hoy, indicates the expression of God's
justice to those who are in opposition to Divine viewpoint.
A. It is not a threat
B. It is not really even a promise.
C. It is a principle. Deviation from divine design produces WOE in various
degrees; soulish, physical, national.
2. The prophecy of divine judgment does two things.
A. It indicates that God's righteous standards must be
honored. Verse 29:13
B. It provides time for recovery. As long as there is
life, there is hope.
C. But for the Northern kingdom, there is no recovery
and no return.
The major blow has been struck; what remains is sweeping up the debris.
D. In addition, this prophecy is not written to or for
the Northern kingdom, but to the Southern Kingdom as a warning.
3. To the proud crown: This is a symbol of national sovereignty
and honor, which in this case, is expressed by arrogance and independence
that rejects God and clings to personal and national human viewpoint standards.
4. of the drunkards of Ephraim.
A. The spiritual and moral condition of the Northern kingdom
is indicated by drunkenness.
B. Spiritual drunkenness: This is based on verses 7-8
They are drunk (deluded and numbed) by the influence of idolatry and false
C. However, it also includes the social condition of the
nation which is given over to the practice of bacchanalianism.
5. And to the fading flower of its glorious beauty.
A. The crown refers to national sovereignty and honor
which has been removed.
B. The flower refers to the remnant of national honor
that still remains among the population and among the captives.
C. But the flower is fading fast. This message was given
in 713 BC and describes the process of destruction that will take 65 years.
1. It began to be destroyed in 736 BC, when Tiglath Pileser
of Assyria subjugated the Northern Kingdom under the 4th cycle of discipline
(2 Kings 16:5-9).
2. The flower faded further in 721-719 BC, when the nation
was put under the 5th cycle of discipline by Shalmeneser, and most of the
people were taken captive to Assyria (2 kings 17:9-12).
3. But the flower is not yet totally faded. The final
stage is yet to be carried out between 680 and 673 BC, by Esar Haddon of
Assyria (2 Kings 17:24).
But the fading is in progress between 719-680 BC also.
4. This is based on the message given to Ahaz in 738 BC
(Isaiah 7:8), "within 65 years." (738-673 BC) Ephraim
will be shattered so that it is no longer a people.
6. Which is at the head of the fertile valley.
This simply refers to the beautiful, mountainous location of the city of
Samaria, the capital, which was situated at a height of about 300 feet,
at the head of the Valley of Sharon. cf. Amos 4:1; 6:1
7. Of those who are overcome with wine.
A. the word overcome (hAlam, qal participle) means to
smite, to hammer, strike down.
B. It refers to the total neutralization that results
from adherence to idolatry and false doctrine (2 Kings 17:7-18).
If someone is a political leader of a nation and is continually involved
with physical drunkenness (dominated by the philosophy of sensuality),
he cannot properly administrate leadership responsibilities.
If someone is a spiritual (religious) leader of a nation, and is continually
involved with the spiritual drunkenness of idolatry, he cannot properly
administrate his leadership responsibilities.
C. This comes from the darkened soul and the blindness
of heart that results, which then in turn results in the indictment found
at Isaiah 29:9-10.
1. Behold: the word, hina, means to focus attention on
something; concentrate on. It is a very common expression in the Hebrew
culture, using both the Hebrew and Greek languages, which basically means
to see or look at. The communicator wants to get the hearers' or readers'
attention and this device should elicit a concentrated focus on what follows.
Here, it is addressed to the leaders of the Southern Kingdom concerning
what has happened in the Northern kingdom and what will happen to them
if they do not recover.
2. The Lord (adonai) has a strong and mighty one (an agent).
This refers to the nation of Assyria, which has been the
dominant force in the world since 883 BC.
Ashurnairpal II 883-859 BC
Shalmaneser III 858-824
Shamsi-Adad V 823-811
Adad-Nirari III 810-783
Shalmaneser IV 782-773
Ashur-dan III 772-755
Ashur-nirari V 754-745
Tiglathpileser III 744-727
Shalmanezer V 726-722
Sargon II 721-705
Then Babylon's Nabopolasser 625-605
3. As a storm of hail: a large hail storm, a tempest (great
wind) of destruction. Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters (great
These are examples of natural force used to represent the great military
force of Assyria.
The word, overflowing, is a qal participle of
and looks to the invasion of the Southern kingdom in 711 BC, that "overflows"
from the attack on the Northern kingdom in 722-719 BC. The very same word
is used at verses 15 and 18 (translated in the NASB as overwhelming) and
further refers to the extension of Assyria's attack into the Southern kingdom.
The historical record of this attack is found at 2 Kings 18:1-13 and Isaiah
36-39 and 2 Chronicles 32:1.
4. He has cast it down to the earth by hand. This refers
to personal judgment on the Northern Kingdom form the hand of God. It refers
to the fact that the crown was removed in 719 BC.
The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden
This describes the status of the nation's honor. The
crown has been removed. The only thing left is the fading flower of the
The yet future, third stage of the 5th cycle of discipline
1. And the fading flower . . . WILL BE: This refers to
a yet future judgment on the nation that will bring its glory; its cultural
heritage to an end.
2. Like the first ripe fig prior to summer, which ones
sees, and as soon as it is in his hand, he swallows it.
This refers to someone other than the nation's population
partaking of the nation's assets. These assets will not be enjoyed by the
people of the land, but by a usurper; an invader, who sees what they have
and takes it for himself.
3. This final blow to national sovereignty and honor takes
place between 680 and 673 BC. The Northern kingdom is under the 5th cycle
of discipline and the administration of that discipline will not be interrupted.
However, this information is not given for the benefit of the Northern
kingdom, but for the Southern kingdom, which can still prevent the actions
that will bring about the 5th cycle upon them.
Starting with verse 5, the focus will now be on the Southern
kingdom through immediate application, and by distant application, on the
restored kingdom that will exist during the time of Messiah's first advent,
even though they will still be under the 4th cycle.
The Southern kingdom can look at the failure of the Northern
kingdom, and the discipline that comes upon it, and take positive steps
to prevent the same thing from happening to them.
Verses 5-8 The issues of both victory and defeat
As Isaiah continues his ministry to the Southern kingdom,
he gives them a promise of victory, but a victory that is based first on
their trust in God. And if they choose to reject such faith-trust in God's
character and plan, then they also will be placed under the 5th cycle of
discipline and be destroyed by the invading armies of Assyria. But first,
the leaders of the nation will try everything they can to resist the invaders
apart from trusting in God, only to finally concede that God alone has
the answer and the means of victory. And all the while, God was patiently
waiting for them to trust Him (Isaiah 30:18).
Verses 5-6 The promise of victory in the crisis based
on trust in yahweh
1. In that day: This refers to the PERIOD of time when
Assyria will be completing its domination of the Northern kingdom. This
takes place after 719 BC and will be completed in 673 BC. It is then, within
this time period that Assyria will turn against Judah and seek to totally
Hezekiah became king of Judah in 724 BC, at the age of
25. He immediately began promoting divine viewpoint and policy in the nation,
even to the point of rebelling against the servitude imposed by Assyria
under his father's reign (2 Kings 18:5-7). In 722 BC, Assyria conquered
the Northern kingdom, which took about 3 years (2 Kings 18:9-12), and then
for the next several years (until 673 BC), the people were slowly displaced
from the land and taken captive to Assyria. Eight years later, in 711 BC,
he turned upon Judah because of Hezekiah's rebellion (2 Kings 18:13). At
the first, Hezekiah succumbed and gave to Sennacherib silver and gold from
the temple in order to appease him. However, this did not please God nor
did it truly appease Assyria, for he immediately sent his generals to attack
Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). It is probable that this lapse of Hezekiah is
the reason for his sickness as discipline from God, even though through
Isaiah's help, they were able to endure the attack of Assyria at this time.
It is this attack, that takes place during Assyria's domination of the
Northern kingdom, that is in view at Isaiah 28:5, "in that day."
2. The LORD of Hosts: Yahweh of the armies is the commander
in chief of the nation of Israel. As long as the people and the military
put their trust in Him, they will find inner peace and be given national
peace through victory over their enemies.
Yahweh of the Armies:
1 Samuel 17:45
"I come to you in the name of Yahweh of the armies,
the Elohim (God) of the battle ranks of Israel."
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
"The one with us is greater than the one with him
. . .
with us is Yahweh our God (elohim) to help us and to fight our battles."
If they maintain this focus of trust on Yahweh, then He
will become for them - -
3. A beautiful crown: the symbol of national pride and
God is the true basis for national stability. Whenever
a people concentrate on secular culture; politics and economy, apart from
genuine trust in God, they undermine the thing that makes a nation truly
great. Such a spiritual decline of a nation leads to the moral decline
of that nation and eventual self-destruction.
This is the pattern throughout all of history. All the
great nations that have come and gone, have dwindled based on failure to
follow the principles of divine morality and relationship with God.
4. And a glorious diadem: poetic repetition that refers
to the same idea.
This is a common device in Hebrew poetry to provide emphasis.
5. To the remnant of His people: This refers to those
of the Southern kingdom who trust in God during the crisis of the Assyrian
1. A spirit of justice: this refers to the attitude and
influence of God's justice that is present in the king.
2. To him who sits in judgment: This refers to king Hezekiah.
God will become a source of great strength and stability and encouragement
to Hezekiah, so that as the ruler, he can stand up in front of the people
and proclaim to them not to worry about the invader for God is on our side.
And he did just that, even after all his failures.
3. And a strength to those who repel the onslaught at
This refers to the military personnel who are on the battle lines.
These men need encouragement from their leaders and from
the people they are defending. But mostly, from a mutual trust in God's
character and plan that recognizes that "the battle is Yahweh's"
(1 Sam. 17:47) and "Yahweh will fight for you," (Ex. 14:14).
Verses 7-8 The actual status of the nation which is the
cause of defeat.
1. And these also: This refers to the spiritual leadership
of the Southern nation. The word, also, takes us back to what has previously
been said in the context about the leaders of the Northern kingdom. It
sets up a parallel. Just as the leadership acted and failed in the Northern
kingdom, so ALSO, the leaders of the Southern kingdom have acted and failed
to trust in Yahweh.
The status of the Northern kingdom prior to their destruction
is described in Hosea 4:1-6. And since we are told that Judah has done
worse than Israel (Ezek. 16:44-52), we can use such passages as this one
to understand the nature of the spiritual and moral depravity that existed.
2. They reel with wine: there are several words here that
describe the unstable condition of the nation; reel, stagger, confused,
totter. We will look at each of them in order to get a complete picture
of their spiritual condition. Isaiah is not giving us a difference between
the effects of wine vs. strong drink, but the difference in the effects
(or rather the progress) of drunkenness regardless of the source.
A. Reel: shAgAh means to stray or swerve, and indicates
imbalance and dizziness while standing in place. It communicates physical
dizziness from wine.
B. stagger: tAAh means to wander about. But there is no
control because of the influence from the wine, so that the result is a
staggering. The progress from swerve to stagger is important to the image
that is being communicated, as it will be mentioned again at the end of
3. The priest and the prophet: The difference between
these two is that the priest is the one responsible for taking existent
divine revelation and communicating it to the people. This would be done
in two ways; through ritual observances of the law, and through reading
and commenting on the text of scripture. The prophet is the one who actually received
new divine revelation from God and as such was the actual mouthpiece
4. There are 3 things mentioned in describing these religious
A. They reel: This refers to physical imbalance while
B. They are confused: this refers to MENTAL imbalance. The word is bAlA
and refers to mental confusion. It is the same word used in Genesis 11
where we are told that God confused their languages.
C. stagger: This refers to physical imbalance while moving.
5. In the last part of this verse, these words for imbalance
are related to religious activity and indicate the severity of the spiritual
problem in the nation.
A. While having visions: They are not in MOTION. They
are having visions. This describes the activity of preparation for teaching.
That is, the gathering and receiving of information to pass on to the people.
If it is the priest, he is reviewing revealed information.
If it is the prophet, he is seeking new revelation from God.
If this person is literally drunk while having visions, then it is obvious
that he is not receiving information from God. If "drunk" is
symbolic for while he is having visions, then it is indicating the source
of the visions. He is under the influence of false doctrine.
B. Totter while rendering judgment. The verb is pug and
is only used four times in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 10:4; Amos 2:13x2).
It means to totter or give way under excessive weight. Too much of a load
or too much pressure on one's back or shoulders so that he shakes and collapses.
These are receiving an influence that so pressures these teachers, that
they collapse under it and fail to represent divine truth, but instead,
teach the false doctrines and viewpoints of the idolatrous sects around
them. The real issue, then, is that there is no accuracy to what is being
REVIEW Isaiah 29:9-10, which explains the spiritual application
of drunkenness to the religious leaders of the nation. God
has allowed the influence from false doctrine. The teachers choose to accept
the false doctrine and harden their hearts toward God. God continues to
allow the influence but also continues to proclaim truth to them, and in
so doing, God hardens the heart.
That is, by giving more information to those who are negative to the things
of God, he actively participates in the process that leads to their hardness
of heart. See Topic: Hardness of Heart
C. the result is that there is the byproduct of drunkenness
all over the tables; the vomit of false doctrine served to the people.
1. For all the tables:
A. Literally: at the wine feasts
B. Symbolic: the teaching sessions
2. Are full of filthy vomit:
A. Literally: GROSS
B. Symbolic: the true character of false doctrine.
3. Without a single clean place: no truth anywhere
Hosea 4:1-3; Isaiah 1:1-4
Verses 9-13 Focus on communication of truth as the solution
to the nation's problems. However, there is very little responsiveness
to God's truth, and that condition is used as a prophetic anticipation
of the Messiah generation who will see Messiah's person and works, and
1. To whom would he teach knowledge?
This refers to divine truth in general and reflects the general attitude
of the nation's populace, which is unresponsive to God's viewpoint and
policies (Isaiah 3:8-9).
2. And to whom would he interpret the message?
This refers to the specific message of either blessing or cursing depending
on whether the nation responds or not.
3. Those just weaned from milk; those just taken from
The question implies that there is no one in the land who can respond to
truth and the only people left are the infants. They have not been corrupted
by false doctrine and idolatry. Everyone else is disinterested and rebellious
against God. However, teaching the infants will not deliver the nation.
4. But the message will be proclaimed to the nation anyway.
And in that proclamation will be a prophecy concerning the nation in the
distant future, when Messiah will have come and been rejected by the nation.
Verse 10 The sign of Messiah's new priestly agent
1. For (kiy): this introduces a monosyllabic poem that
announces that the prophet's message will indeed be proclaimed to the entire
2. The poem indicates two things:
A. The content of the message: the message will be one
of both blessing and judgment through identification with the Messiah's
presence on the earth and acceptance of Him as the Savior.
B. An imitation of a Gentile language: This will serve
as a sign to the nation that the Messiah has indeed come to the nation
and will bless only those who identify with Him, while judging all the
C. Some have seen in this poem, the imitation
that a baby would make in order to relate to the mention of babies in verse
9, but this picture does not correlate with the specific language that
describes the poem (foreign tongue) nor does it correlate with the future
fulfillment of the prophecy, when God uses actual Gentile languages to
communicate truth to the nation.
D. The significance of babies in the passage is that there
is no one of volitional responsibility who is responding to God's truth,
and that leaves only babies to receive the message. But the message is
meaningless to the babies; just as meaningless as having the message proclaimed
to the adults in a Gentile language. However, there will come a time when
the message IS proclaimed in a Gentile language and WILL be understood
because the Jewish culture of that future generation will be dominated
by the Gentile languages prevalent in the Roman Empire. And when this occurs,
it will serve as a sign that God is about to make a major change in administrating
truth in the world.
3. Order on order, order on order: tsav(w)
lAtsAv(w), tsav(w) lAtsAv(w)
The word, tsav, means a command or precept. It refers to the content of
the message being an orderly proclamation of one precept upon another.
The final letter (wav) can be rendered either as a W sound or a V sound,
however, whichever, "school" one follows, he needs to be consistent.
4. Line on line, line on line: kav(w) lAkAv(w),
This indicates an orderly and thorough proclamation of divine truth that
evaluates each and every word that comes from the mouth of God.
5. A little here, a little there (here): zeayr
This indicates consistency and repetition for maximum exposure.
The other factor is that this message will be proclaimed
to the nation through a Gentile language instead of the language of the
prophets. But this is yet future, and when it occurs, it will serve as
a sign that God is going to displace the nation as His evangelistic agent,
and create a new nation, a spiritual nation, comprised of both Jew and
Gentile to function as His representatives of truth here on the earth.
1. Indeed (kiy): For - in further explanation.
This makes a correlation with the monosyllabic poem of verse 10 and a guttural
type Gentile language, and in this case, an invading army.
2. He will speak to THIS people: This has a two-fold application.
A. In the immediate time context of 713-712 BC, it refers
to the Southern kingdom of Judah under Hezekiah, and to Isaiah quoting
this poem to them to emphasize the simplicity of the message.
B. In a future generation, it refers to the nation of
Israel that will be visited by the personal presence of the Messiah.
3. through stammering lips: This refers to a guttural
Not smooth like the Hebrew. Isaiah speaks to this people using the format
of tsav latsav, etc, imitating a guttural type Gentile language in order
to emphasize the simplicity of the message.
4. And a foreign tongue (language): This gets more specific
and refers to a future generation when the prophet's message will be given
in an actual Gentile language, and serve as a sign to the nation that God
is making a change in His operational procedure.
5. The sign to the nation is two-fold.
A. First, the fact that God is going to discontinue the
administration of the divine commission through Israel, and give the responsibility
to a NEW nation.
Rom. 9:4-5; Isaiah 41:8-9; 43:7, 10; 49:3; Hosea 4:6
B. Second, it is a sign of national discipline; the fact
that Israel will not only be displaced, but also removed from being a functionally
free nation through destruction of her temple and cities (Matthew 21:33-45;
Verse 12 The content of the message
1. He who said to them: This is the grace message from
God, which communicates a universal principle; while there is life, there
2. this is the security: menuchAh, is used to emphasize
spiritual stability and then national protection.
3. give security: nuach as a hiphil imperative
4. To the weary: Ayaph refers to the condition of men
living under human viewpoint standards; inwardly wearied.
A. Isaiah 57:21, no peace to the wicked
B. Matthew 11:28
C. Romans 5:6-10, the spiritual depravity of H.U.S.E.
5. And this is the rest: margaAh refers to contentment
and happiness; peace and rest - through relationship and fellowship with
This is a blessing extended to all people on God's terms, but with special
emphasis on the national crisis of 711 BC and the Messiah generation of
the distant future.
6. But they would not listen:
A. They were not willing: AbhAh as a qal imperfect indicates
an established pattern of volitional rejection
B. To listen: ShAma as a qal infinitive construct
the attitude of verse 30:11, "Let us hear no more of the Holy One
C. This total rejection of relationship with Yahweh, is
the basic attitude of the nation, but until the discipline actually takes
place, there is still hope (Verse 30:19).
D. And during the Messiah generation of the distant future,
the same attitude will be mentioned and be finalized by total rejection
of Jesus as the Messiah (Matthew 23:37, "and you were not willing.")
Verse 13 The alternative to blessing is judgment
1. So: Because of their rejection of God. This introduces
a principle that is applicable for those in 711 BC, as well as for all
2. The word of Yahweh to them will be: It will be the
same kind of message, but with a different emphasis.
A. Divine viewpoint always includes both blessing and
judgment as can be seen at Deuteronomy 30:15-20.
B. However, after rejection of truth has been expressed,
the message will focus primarily on the judgment that results from rejection,
from both a spiritual and a national perspective.
3. So that they may go: hAlak is used to indicate the
actions of rebellion that come from the initial negative volition toward
It is preceded by a particle of purpose to indicate the
process of negative consequences that come from the rebellious attitude.
The next four words are all preceded by the connective
AND, to indicate a specific and certain progress toward national and social
4. And stumble backward: The choice to GO in rebellion
against God, results in a depraved spiritual condition and total involvement
with darkness viewpoint. This produces stumbling in every area of life.
5. and be broken: This word gives us a transition to the
physical judgment on the nation.
A. There is an inner BROKENNESS of frustration and misery.
B. But there is also the brokenness of being physically dominated by a
6. and snared: This refers to being trapped by foreign
7. And taken captive: This refers to total destruction
of the national structure through the ruin of national resources and the
enslavement of the people, who will be taken away to slavery in a foreign
8. This condition was avoided in 711 BC through returning
to trust in Yahweh, but the generation that rejects the advent of the Messiah
will not recover.
1. The message of the prophet was given in a way that
imitated a Gentile guttural language.
2. The message was one of spiritual and national rest
based on relationship and fellowship with Yahweh Messiah.
3. But since the message is rejected, it becomes one of
judgment, both spiritual and national.
4. The prophecy has a two-fold application.
A. At the present in 713-711 BC, if the message, delivered
by Isaiah in an imitation Gentile language, is not heeded, the nation
will be disciplined and lose its priesthood responsibility during that
time of discipline.
B. If the message is heeded, the threat of foreign invasion
will be removed and blessing and prosperity will result.
C. In a future generation, the message of rest, when delivered
in Gentile languages, will accomplish the same thing.
1. Acceptance equals spiritual and national blessing.
2. Rejection equals national discipline and temporary removal of priestly function.
5. The prophetic message in Gentile languages, thus becomes
a sign of potential national discipline and priestly replacement.
6. The difference between the two generations is that
in 711 BC, the nation will recover and return to yahweh, but in the future
generation, the nation will not recover.
A. They will be placed under the 5th cycle of discipline
and be dispersed throughout the Roman empire.
B. Their priestly function will be taken from them and
given to another group; a spiritual nation, comprised of both Jews and
7. This prophecy views only the generation of 711 BC and
the one that witnesses the arrival of Messiah. The national discipline
of 605-536 BC is bypassed by the prophet.
8. Most prophetic passages deal with an immediate crisis
and applies to one or both of the Messiah's advents, without focusing on
subsequent crises in the nation's history.
Verses 14-15 Specific Application to the Hezekiah generation
1. Therefore: Because of the reality of judgment through
2. Hear the word of Yahweh: Divine provision for avoidance
3. O scoffers: men of lAtson - mockery and derision
A. Indicates the attitude and expression of Israel's leadership.
B. They reject divine viewpoint.
C. They embrace darkness viewpoint and mock divine viewpoint.
4. Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem:
This identifies the rulers and the Southern kingdom
1. Because you have said: Not only do they express their
open adherence to darkness viewpoint and policy, but using the message
of Isaiah, they mock divine policy.
2. We have made a covenant with death:
A. This is a reference to the military alliance with Egypt
of verse 30:2.
B. Such an alliance has been clearly denounced by Isaiah (V. 20:3-6).
1. It is not divine policy
2. Egypt will become neutralized and unable to help anyway.
C. Accordingly, the leaders mock such a pronouncement
by using sarcasm. Isaiah has told them that their covenant with Egypt will only result in death. They take that concept and mock by
saying, "We have made a covenant with death"
and it will deliver us.
3. And with the grave we have made a pact: poetic repetition
for emphasis. The grave is the place of death.
4. The overwhelming (overflowing) scourge: Using Isaiah's
description of the Assyrian army as found at verse 2, they continue to
mock by saying that this scourge will not reach to them.
A. Overflowing: shAtaph - qal participle
B. scourge: the word shot means a whip, but the emphasis is on a severe
calamity that comes upon them. The use of the word, whip, may be mocking
the idea of divine discipline that Isaiah claims is coming upon them.
5. Will not reach us when it passes by.
This expresses confidence in their human viewpoint solution.
6. For we have made falsehood: kAzAph refers to something
that is contrary to truth and therefore constitutes deviation from divine
viewpoint standards. This is still sarcasm that ridicules Isaiah's criticism
of their chosen attitudes and actions.
7. Our refuge: machseh refers to a shelter or protection.
This is the opposite of what Isaiah proclaimed in verse 6.
8. And we have concealed ourselves: sAthar communicates
protection by being totally shut away from any pressure and crisis.
9. With deception (sheqer): Human viewpoint always provides
a false, deceptive comfort, security, hope and solution. This deception
can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but always produces some kind
of denial or sublimation instead of comprehension of the crisis and a true
solution to the crisis.
Verses 16-17a Messiah's future arrival and the new priestly
1. Therefore: Because the Hezekiah generation has rejected
the plan of God for them, AND because the future Messiah generation will
do the same, God here prophesies of the coming of the Messiah and the new
priestly house that He will build.
2. Behold: hina, again requests intense concentration
as required in order to understand this Messianic prophecy.
3. I am laying in Zion: This refers to the nation of Israel
The Messiah is first presented to the nation of Israel (to the Jew first,
and also to the Gentiles, Romans 1:16) as the agent of both national and
4. A stone: ebhen is explained in context as a foundation
A. This hints at the building of a structure.
B. It builds on past revelation and should be a reminder to them.
1. In Isaiah 8:12-15, a parallel crisis, 36 years before
in 738 BC
2. Psalm 118:2-24, A Psalm that deals with Israel as the priestly evangelistic
agency of God.
C. Thus, the stone is personified and refers to the Messiah.
D. The reference to the stone has a 2-fold application.
1. Dependence on the character of Yahweh/Messiah in 711
2. Recognition of Messiah's person at His first advent.
E. Application to 711 BC (cf. Isaiah 8:11-15)
1. Messiah as the stone is the source of either -
a. divine discipline through invasion by a foreign nation.
b. stability and victory in the midst of the crisis.
2. Trust in Messiah, then, removes the national discipline
and is the basis for a new beginning of priestly service by Israel.
F. Application to the Messiah generation (Romans 9:33;
10:11; 1 Pet. 2:6; Matthew 21:42-44)
1. Messiah as the stone, becomes the foundation for a
new priestly house because the old one (Israel) will be destroyed.
2. Participation in the new house depends on acceptance
of the stone - the Messiah.
3. Rejection of the stone results in national discipline
(5th cycle) and removal of priestly responsibility.
4. The nation is set aside under the 5th cycle, and a
new house is built with all who accept the stone, from among both Jew and
5. The sign that this is about to happen is when the message
of the priestly representative is given in Gentile languages.
5. A tested stone: bochan, means examined and approved.
That is, found qualified. This is the result of Messiah's first advent
ministry. (Isaiah 11:1-4a; 52:13 - 53:12)
6. A valuable cornerstone: yAqAr, communicates unique
value, as in the cornerstone, of which there is only one and it is different
from the others.
7. Firmly placed: yAsadh (piel participle) indicates that
nothing can dislodge it. Cf. Psalm 8:3
8. He who believes in it: Aman (hiphil participle,
indicates trust and dependence upon the Messiah.
9. Will not be disturbed (lo yAchiysh): The verb is chush
as a hiphil imperfect plus the negative.
A. As a qal, it means to make haste.
B. As a hiphil, it means to be caused to make haste, to be rushed, to be
intimidated or moved.
C. With the negative (lo), it means that this person shall
not be moved or intimidated. This refers to true spiritual stability based
on relationship with Yahweh and also indicates deliverance from the national
crisis that is at hand.
1. In the Hezekiah generation, those who trust in Yahweh,
will be delivered from the national crisis of the Assyrian invasion.
2. In the Messiah generation, those who trust in Messiah,
will not perish with the nation when it is destroyed and scattered by Rome.
Verse 17a The restoration of priestly representation through
the promotion of justice and righteousness.
When the nation recovers from her lapse into spiritual
apostasy, there will be a renewed promotion of truth in the land and a
proclamation of the Messianic prophecy.
1. And I will make justice: misphAt refers to the administration
of reward and punishment based on adherence to absolute standards for both
morality and worship activity.
2. Measuring line: An instrument of construction. The
instrument that will be used to reestablish priestly function will be justice.
3. And righteousness: tsedAqAh refers to the standards
God has designed for proper interaction with both God and people.
4. The level: Another instrument of construction
5. The two-fold application:
A. In 711 BC, spiritual revival produces adherence to
the principles of justice and righteousness which will build a new beginning
for the Southern kingdom in its priestly representation. This new beginning
will give the nation 106 more years before the 5th cycle is administered
in 605 BC.
B. In the Messiah's generation, the nation will reject
Him and as a result go out under the 5th cycle. Their priestly responsibility
will be taken away from them and their cities and temple will be destroyed.
But with the remnant of all those who do accept the Messiah, He will build
a new priestly body based on justice and righteousness (1 Peter 2:5-10).
1. It will be built on the justice of God's redemptive
program through the sin sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah.
2. It will be built on the righteousness of God which
will be imputed to all those who accept the justice of God's plan and trust
in the Messiah's sin sacrifice.
Verses 17b-22 Discipline on the nation if it fails to
Verse 17b The improper function of the priestly house
1. The hail shall sweep away: This is the destruction
worked by the invading army.
2. The refuge of lies: the machseh kAsabh of verse 15.
A. From a physical standpoint, Egypt will be neutralized
and the land devastated.
B. From a spiritual standpoint, the human viewpoint solutions
will be exposed as worthless.
3. And waters shall overflow: This indicates exposure
4. The secret place: sather refers to the place of concealment
mentioned in verse 15. There will be no protection from the crisis apart
from trust in God's character and viewpoint.
1. And your covenant with death: their dependence on human
2. Shall be canceled: Divine sarcasm that takes their sarcasm and throws
it back upon them.
A. their human viewpoint solution will fail.
B. But death and the grave will still be recompensed.
3. And your pact with the grave shall not stand.
4. When the overflowing scourge passes through: Refers
to the invading armies of Assyria.
5. then you become its trampling place: National
discipline administered by foreign invasion.
But this is dealing in principle and as a warning.
They can still be delivered by returning to yahweh (Verse 30:15ff).
Verses 19-22 The terror from foreign invasion
1. As often as it passes through: back and forth through
all the cities of the land as indicated at verse 36:1.
2. Day or night: constant threat
3. And only terror to understand the message:
A. The message is foreign invasion and domination.
B. The terror is pillage, killing, rape, and concern for what is to come
in the future.
"The bed is too short on which to stretch out
and the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in."
These are idioms for restlessness caused by worry and
Verse 21 Yahweh's work: National discipline through foreign
1. For Yahweh will mount up: This is a reference to the
fact that it is divine design behind the judgment on Israel.
2. AS at Mount Perazim: This is a reference to the incidents
of 2 Samuel 5:17-25.
Related to the overflowing flood of verse 2 and 17 (2 Sam 5:20).
3. AS in the valley of Gibeon: The incidents of Joshua
This relates to the hail storm of verse 2 and 17 (Joshua
4. In the same powerful way that God helped Israel in
the past, so He will now show Himself powerful to discipline them.
5. To do His task, His task is strange: zur (qal participle)
This word is used to indicate something one is not accustomed to.
His task is unusual; it is a rare occurrence.
It is something that is not in conformity with national priesthood.
6. To work His work; His work is alien: nAkriy (foreign)
This is used to indicate something that is not of your nation.
The work that is to be done, is not common to the nation's normal activity.
His work is foreign
A. Accomplished by a foreign nation
B. Foreign to the immediate welfare of the nation.
C. Foreign to the nation's past priestly function.
D. And this is exactly what happens in 70 AD as a result of the nation's
failure to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
1. And now: This takes us back to the present situation,
confirms the potential for either deliverance or defeat.
2. Do not carry on as scoffers: They are to cease the
attitudes and actions of verses 14-15.
3. Lest your fetters be made stronger:
A. fetters: foreign harassment during previous cycles
of discipline, and specifically the 4th cycle.
B. Made stronger: this refers to intensification of national
discipline based on Leviticus 26, "7 times greater." The experience
of the 4th cycle will escalate into the 5th cycle and result in national
destruction and dispersion.
C. This was avoided in 711 BC through the Hezekiah revival,
but will not be avoided in the Messiah generation, when the nation as a
whole, will reject the person and work of the Messiah in the person of
Jesus of Nazareth, which will result in the destruction of the temple and
the dispersion of the people all throughout the Roman empire.
4. For I have heard from the Lord Yahweh of hosts, about
decisive destruction on all the land. This refers to the vivid revelation
that Isaiah received about Assyria's potential devastation of the land
with application to the Messiah generation, when the nation will be challenged
by Messiah's presence and message.
When that challenge is faced and failed by the nation
of Israel in 30 AD, God will reject them as His evangelistic representative
on the earth (Matthew 21:43; Deuteronomy 32:21), and institute the gift
of languages as a sign to them that they are about to be displaced by a
new nation that will bring forth the fruits of the kingdom.
This is fulfilled initially on the Day of Pentecost, and
is recorded at Acts 2:1-40