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Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 4

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 28, 29: Ephraim and Judah

Chapter 22: Two Examples of Faith

Isaiah seems to love metaphors to illustrate truth. Isaiah 28:20 says,

20 The bed is too short on which to stretch out, and the blanket is too small to wrap oneself in.

This is a metaphor of Judah’s inadequacy, pictured by a six-foot man trying to sleep on a five-foot bed or a blanket that cannot cover one’s neck and feet at the same time. They had made a defense treaty with Egypt that proved to be totally inadequate, and it was only by the direct intervention of God Himself that Jerusalem was saved from the Assyrians. A century later, Judah would again depend on Egypt against Babylon, but to no avail.

David’s Example

Isaiah 28:21 says,

21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, to do His task, His unusual task, and to work His work, His extraordinary work.

The prophet was telling Judah to follow the example of David and Joshua, both of whom had received divine aid through prayer. Appealing to Egypt was inadequate but appealing to God would obtain good results.

Mount Perazim was in the valley of Rephaim, where David obtained two victories over the Philistines in 2 Sam. 5:17-25 shortly after he had been anointed king over all Israel. 2 Sam. 5:19, 20 says,

19 Then David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hands?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.” 20 So David came to Baal-perazim and defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through [paraz] my enemies before me like the breakthrough [perez] of waters.” Therefore he named that place Baal-perazim [“Lord of the Breaks”].

We then read that David and his army captured and destroyed all of the idols that the Philistines had depended upon for victory. This is what Judah should have done as well.

The Philistines regrouped and came again to the valley of Rephaim to fight against David. This time God told David to circle around the Philistines under cover of the balsam trees. When God gave the signal, “when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees” (2 Sam. 5:24), then David was to ambush them from behind. This battle too was successful.

The Breakthrough

David then named the place Baal-perazim, “Lord of the Breaks,” because the Lord, or “Baal,” (i.e., Yahweh) had broken through the Philistine defenses. Baal is a title that means “owner, husband, or lord.” It is primarily a landlord, or landowner. Israel’s Owner, Husband, and Landlord was Yahweh (Lev. 25:23), while other nations, of course, had their own lords (baalim). The term can be applied to either the true God of Israel or to false gods, much like the term Elohim, as we see in Exodus 20:2, 3,

2 I am Yahweh your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other Elohim before Me.

The problem comes when men worship a false Elohim or a false Baal (“Lord”). The false gods of the Philistines were destroyed when God broke through their ranks.

Then, too, God’s use of balsam trees may be significant as well, seeing as how this battle took place in the valley of Rephaim. Rephaim comes from the word rapha, “to heal,” while balsam oil was an essential oil that promoted healing (Jer. 8:22). David’s victory, then, along with burning the Philistine idols and false gods, healed the land (2 Chron. 7:14).

No doubt Isaiah was suggesting that if Judah would repent and follow David’s example, God would heal their land.

An Unusual Work

Isaiah 28:21 says that “He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, to do his task, His unusual task, and to work His work, His extraordinary work.” This is a reference to the battle that Joshua fought in the valley of Gibeon in Joshua 10, which was to protect the town of Gibeon from the attack of Adonizedek, the king of Jerusalem.

That battle is most known for Joshua’s prophetic declaration, “O sun, stand still in Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon” (Joshua 10:12). The day was thus lengthened in order to allow time for Joshua to do “His unusual task” and “His extraordinary work,” as Isaiah described it.

This story was the second example that Judah should have remembered before trying to make an alliance with Egypt that would fail to repel the Assyrians. Even today, as we face difficult times in the final showdown with Mystery Babylon, we ought to remind ourselves of Joshua’s example, knowing that the story set precedents for us today. To understand how it applies to us today, we must know the story of Gibeon.

The Covenant with Gibeon

The story properly begins much earlier with Noah’s curse upon Canaan in Gen. 9:25-27,

25 So he [Noah] said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.”

This curse put the Canaanites on Cursed Time for 2 x 414 years. Cursed Time is a grace period until the moment the curse is actually executed. The purpose of such grace is to give men time to repent. If they do not repent, then the curse is carried out at the appointed time.

In this case the curse was pronounced in the year 1660 from Adam, or three years after the end of Noah’s flood. (See Secrets of Time.) The curse came due 828 years later in the year 2488, the year that Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land to bring judgment on the unrepentant Canaanites according to the terms of Noah’s curse.

The wording of the curse shows that it was not meant to destroy the Canaanites but to make them servants. Gen. 9:26 says, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” Whose servant? Shem’s servant? Perhaps, but it could also mean that Canaan should be His servant,” a servant of “the Lord, the God of Shem.”

The point is that when Israel’s wars against the Canaanites began, at least some of those Canaanites would have to survive in order to serve Shem or, better, the Lord God of Shem. Men do not make good servants when they are dead. For this reason, God caused the town of Gibeon to trick Joshua into making a covenant of peace with them. While it was not the will of God according to God’s instructions to Moses, it was most certainly His plan dating back to Noah.

The Gibeonites made their covenant of peace with Israel in Joshua 9:15,

15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

The previous verse tells us that Joshua “did not ask for the counsel of the Lord” in this, implying that this covenant was not the will of God. Nonetheless, it was in the plan of God that had been established in the days of Noah.

The War with Adonizedek

The king of Jerusalem at that time heard of this peace covenant and mobilized its army to attack Gibeon. After all, the king did not want any other city to follow Gibeon’s example. Canaan needed to present a united front to repel the Israelite invaders. So he gathered a coalition of five kings (Joshua 10:16) and attacked Gibeon. The Gibeonites then appealed to Joshua for help, and that is why the battle took place in the valley of Gibeon.

Joshua’s troops marched all night from Gilgal and won a decisive battle (Joshua 10:9, 10). The Canaanite survivors fled the scene but were met with a hailstorm that killed more Canaanites than the Israelites had slain with the sword (Joshua 10:11).

But as nightfall approached, the Israelites needed more time to pursue the fleeing Canaanite troops. So we read in Joshua 10:12-14,

12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jasher? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 There was no day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

This was certainly a noteworthy miracle, but unless we understand some less-known details, most will not understand the real significance of this battle.

First, Joshua was a type of Christ. Jesus Christ came as the high priest of the Melchizedek order (Heb. 5:10). Melchizedek was the builder of Jerusalem who met Abraham after the battle against the kings of Shinar (Heb. 7:1). Melchizedek, “King of Righteousness,” was the official title of the king of Jerusalem.

Adonizedek, “Lord of Righteousness,” was the equivalent of Melchizedek. The two terms were used interchangeably. The book of Jasher, mentioned in Joshua 10:13, uses Adonizedek to describe the one who met with Abraham, whereas Scripture speaks of Melchizedek.

Jasher 16:11, 12 tells us the story.

11 And Adonizedek king of Jerusalem, the same was Shem, went out with his men to meet Abram, and his people, with bread and wine, and they remained together in the valley of Melech. 12 And Adonizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tenth from all that he had brought from the spoil of his enemies, for Adonizedek was a priest before God.

Shem outlived Abraham, but when Shem finally died at the age of 600, his successors continued using the same title. We have no record of the kings of Jerusalem after Shem, but it is clear that by the time of Joshua, they were unbelievers who had been fully integrated with the Canaanites. Hence, the Adonizedek that fought against Joshua was a counterfeit Melchizedek priest ruling in Jerusalem.

He was thus an antichrist ruling from the earthly Jerusalem, which Paul identifies prophetically as “Hagar” (Gal. 4:25). So the New Testament story of Jerusalem’s war against the true High Priest of the order of Melchizedek was actually prophesied in Joshua 10.

Likewise, in our own time, we are seeing the next phase of the same war being fought in the context of the second coming of Christ. For this reason, Isaiah’s reference to this battle in Isaiah 28:21 is relevant to us today, even though Judah and Jerusalem failed to take heed to that example in the days of the prophet.

Keeping Covenants

Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites came with a sacred oath that was made under the authority of the Third Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” In other words, when you swear by the name of the Lord your God to do something, you must keep your word. Joshua did this when he defended the Gibeonites.

The immediate context was that the Gibeonites had become servants of the tabernacle in Shiloh, for we read in Joshua 9:27,

27 But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place which he would choose.

Perhaps each family of Gibeonites was scheduled to serve at the altar for a week at a time. In doing this, they were not only serving Shem (i.e., his descendants) but more importantly, they were serving the Lord God of Shem. In essence, they became types and shadows of the Melchizedek order.

Christ, who was of Judah, was a priest of this same order, because, unlike the Aaronic order, it was not dependent upon any genealogy from Aaron. So also the Canaanite Gibeonites too could serve as types and shadows of the Melchizedek order, regardless of their descent from Ham.

Their example also shows how the curse of God works out for good in the end. All those Canaanites who were killed fighting Joshua in those days will be restored in the end. The Gibeonites established that pattern of restoration and were the first fruits of Canaan. Though they were trodden down as grapes, they will be placed on God’s great Communion Table in the end.

This is the “extraordinary work” in Isaiah 28:21, as much as the hailstorm (of truth) and the sun standing still for a day.