Life-Study of Isaiah, by Witness Lee

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Isaiah 30:1-17 and 31:1 speak of Jehovah’s dealing with Israel’s reliance on Egypt.

A. The Rebellious Children Going down to Egypt

In 30:1 and 2 the prophet speaks woe to the rebellious children, who devise counsel but not of Jehovah, and who pour out libations of alliance, but not of Jehovah’s Spirit, in order to add sin upon sin; who go down to Egypt, yet do not ask of Jehovah’s mouth, to take refuge in the refuge of Pharaoh, and to take shelter in the shadow of Egypt, which is their humiliation. These libations were drink offerings which the Gentiles poured out to their idols. When two parties or nations made an alliance or formed a league, they would pour a libation upon the earth to indicate that they had made an alliance. Israel had formed such an alliance with Egypt. Therefore, the refuge of Pharaoh will be their shame, and shelter in the shadow of Egypt, their humiliation. The people of Egypt cannot be a help or a profit to them but rather a shame and also a reproach (vv. 3-5).

In typology Egypt signifies the world. Whenever God’s people are in a fallen condition or low estate, they go to Egypt (Gen. 42:10). Abraham did this (Gen. 12:10). Today, when Christians become low, they often go to the world. To go to Egypt, to rely upon Egypt, or to make an association with Egypt is sin. To go to the world or to rely upon the world can never be a profit, glory, or help to us. It always issues in humiliation, shame, and reproach (Isa. 30:5). I have seen a good number of saints who became unhappy with the church life and turned to the world. Then they went into the world, and eventually they stayed in the world. Many of them could not return from the world.

Here we need to learn a lesson. No matter how low we may be, we should not go to the world. Instead, we should look up. When we look up, the Lord has a way to bring us up.

B. Being a Rebellious People, False Children,
Children Who Refuse to Hear
the Instruction of Jehovah

Isaiah 30:9 says, "For this is a rebellious people,/False children,/Children who refuse to hear/The instruction of Jehovah." Here instruction indicates a teaching which is according to the law; it is the divine instruction given to God’s people in the law. Apart from the law, God’s people in the Old Testament did not have any instruction. However, in Isaiah 30 they refused to hear the instruction of the law.

In verse 15 Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, says, "In returning and rest you will be saved; / In quietness and in trust will be your strength." If they would return to God and rest in Him, they would be saved. Today, we first need to return to God and rest in Him. Then we will be quiet, we will trust, and we will have strength.

However, Israel was not willing to return to God and rest in Him. Rather, they said, "No, for we will flee on horses" (v. 16a). Therefore, they will flee until they are left like a bare mast upon a mountaintop and a standard on a hill (v. 17).

(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 17, by Witness Lee)