Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.
Also I will make justice the measuring line,
And righteousness the plummet;
The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
And the waters will overflow the hiding place.
Your covenant with death will be annulled,
And your agreement with Sheol will not stand;
When the overflowing scourge passes through,
Then you will be trampled down by it.
As often as it goes out it will take you;
For morning by morning it will pass over,
And by day and by night;
It will be a terror just to understand the report.”
For the bed is too short to stretch out on,
And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.
For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim,
He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—
That He may do His work, His awesome work,
And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.
Now therefore, do not be mockers,
Lest your bonds be made strong;
For I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts,
A destruction determined even upon the whole earth. (Isaiah 28:16-22)

God overflows on his people, whether in blessing or chastisement. The “waters will overflow” and the reference to Mount Perazim echo David’s words when he had his victory against the Philistines at Perazim right after he had became king of a unified Israel (2 Samuel 5:20). The Valley of Gibeon refers to the time David chased the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer (1 Chronicles 14:13). God told the Israelites that just as Israel had defeated the Philistines, so the Assyrians would defeat the Israelites. As God had once fought against Israel’s enemies, so God would now fight against Israel.

Sheol is merely the Hebrew word for “grave” and the covenant with it and death refer to the Israelite’s mistaken notion that somehow their treaty with God precluded the possibility of anything bad ever happening to them. They forgot that God’s treaty promised them not just prosperity, but also great disaster if they failed to keep it.

Nevertheless, God promised that his people would be his people no matter what. Therefore, like a parent, he was responsible for them, and like a parent, when they misbehaved, he had no choice but to discipline them. Disciplined or pampered, God’s people remain his.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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