What Does Isaiah 28:15 Mean?

Because you have said, "We have made a covenant with death, And with Sheol we have made a pact The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception."

Isaiah 28:15(NASB)
Picture courtesy of The Glory Story

Verse Thoughts

Centuries of rebellion and idolatry dictated that God's chosen nation of Israel had to be punished because of sin, and they would be taken into captivity until the time of the end. Isaiah's prolonged ministry gave details of how the Lord was to bring in a period of time - 'the Times of the Gentiles', during which Gentile nations would become supreme on earth; subjugate Israel and govern the world, until God's people - as a nation, repent of their sin.

While the first 39 chapters of Isaiah emphasis the holiness; righteousness and justice of God, the final section underlines His incomparable glory, everlasting-mercy and immense grace. While the first part predominantly warns of the approaching day of the Lord's judgement and calls for the spiritual renewal of priests and people alike, the last 27 chapters prophesies of Israel's eventual salvation; deliverance; restoration; peace and prosperity - which will only come when they call on the name of the Lord... their prophesied Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Despite the covenant God made with His people, where blessings would result from obedience and curses would be the outcome of disobedience, chapter 28 shows the foolishness of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, who preferred to place their trust in the surrounding nations, rather than in their sovereign God. Israel put their trust in Assyria to save them from their enemies while Judah chose to rely on the military might of Egypt, for protection from their foes.

As we trace their history, from the time of Moses to the present day, over and again we see God's people rejecting His word, breaking their covenant and blindly following the presumptuous but befuddled 'politicians' of their day, by trusting in man rather than God - bringing in its wake a deluge of destruction and judgement, according to His divine purpose and plan. 

Earlier in their history the nation had become respected and revered by the surrounding peoples, because they saw God working through Israel, but as their disobedience grew, so their former glory faded - yet they refused to listen to any prophetic warnings and would not repent of their wrongdoing or return to God and trust in His deliverance.

They not only mocked Isaiah's warning words, by making a peace covenant with their pagan neighbours and choosing to do the opposite - they believed that nothing could harm them and said sarcastically... "We have made a covenant with death!! And with Sheol we have made a pact!! The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by, for we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception!!!" 

They thought they could withstand any scourge; be protected from their enemies false words of comfort and not be swept away by overflowing floodwaters, about which Isaiah warned. But he sternly told these foolish people that because they arrogantly said, "We have made a covenant with death... and with Sheol we have made a pact..." God would bring their foolish peace treaties to naught.

Little did they know that God's long-suffering mercy towards His people would eventually bring His judgement upon them, not only by means of Assyria and Babylon but through their coming Messiah - "Therefore... thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a Stone... a tested Stone; a costly Cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed."

At the right time the Messiah would come and those who believe on Him would never be confounded or ashamed, while those who refuse to listen to His voice; align themselves with the world and choose to remain blind and deaf to His word, would be utterly crushed by it.

Israel's past folly was not only prophesied by Isaiah and recorded by many prophetic voices, but was clearly seen during the time that Jesus walked the earth. And today the same arrogant attitude has been adopted, by those who rely on the limitations of human wisdom rather than the sure foundation of God's unchangeable word. 

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that as I read through Your word You would teach me the many lessons that need to be learned - that I must not put my trust in the wisdom of man but in the Word of Truth - the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You that in Him I have life and hope and an inheritance in heaven. Give me discernment to do that which is right in Your eyes and eschew all that is evil. Thank You that the day is coming when the curse of death will be removed forever and Jesus will put all enemies under His feet. I pray that I may never be swayed by the deceptive words of worldly men or lying politicians, but look to Jesus, moment by moment and trust in Him alone. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Picture courtesy of The Glory Story

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