Prophecy of Isaiah – Isa 9:14-17 The Lord Will Cut Off From Israel The head and Tail


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Isa 9:14-17 The Lord Will Cut Off From Israel The Head And Tail

Isa 9:14  Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
Isa 9:15  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.
Isa 9:16  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.
Isa 9:17  Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

We are continuing our study of God's judgments upon His people. In this study we will learn that God is intent upon the destruction of His first "marred... vessel of clay":

Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

If we are aware of the sovereignty of God when reading all of His admonitions, then we will not continue to ask what Paul said we would ask:

Rom 9:19  But one of you will say to me, "If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? Who can resist God's will?" (GNB)

This statement is based upon these words in 2Chronicles 20 where we read:

2Ch 20:5  And Jehoshaphat stood in the congregation of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
2Ch 20:6  And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

The Truth is that mankind cannot resist the will of God. It is for that very reason we all wonder why God did not just make us all perfected spirits and why He did not just skip all the sufferings this flesh just naturally produces. However, our flesh refuses to believe that God is that powerful and that we are that weak.

Which brings us to our first verse in today's study:

Isa 9:14  Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.

The word 'therefore' refers back to "the pride and stoutness of heart" of verse 9:

Isa 9:9  And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,

The ignorance of mankind concerning the total sovereignty of God doesn't make God any less sovereign, as the apostle Paul points out:

Rom 9:10  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
Rom 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of [our] works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom 9:12  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Rom 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Rom 9:15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom 9:16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Rom 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
Rom 9:18  Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

It is given to our nature to rebel against the very idea of God hating any of us before we are even born and raising us up for the specific purpose of destroying us as He did Pharaoh. Paul knew how natural it was to resent such a powerful God whose plan is justified only by the loving outcome of His sovereign will, and he was given to anticipate the reaction of our own carnal minds to a statement which naturally seems completely unfair and unjust to the kingdom of our rebellious old man. So he poses the question he knows we will all ask:

Rom 9:14  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? ...

Which is the same as asking:

Rom 9:19  But one of you will say to me, "If this is so, how can God find fault with anyone? Who can resist God's will"? (GNB)

It has always struck me how blunt the holy spirit is in answering that question:

Rom 9:20  Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

The truth is that at everything happening at this very moment, the very little good as well as the much evil taking place in this world, is fulfilling and doing what He has preordained to be done. It is only by knowing that God Himself creates evil (Isa 45:7) and 'makes us to err from His ways' (Isa 63:17), makes 'wicked men for the day of evil' (Pro 16:4) and is 'working all things after the counsel of His own will' (Eph 1:11), that we can know and appreciate the Truth that even the first-man Adam typifies Christ (Rom 5:14), and that even today that rebellious first-man Adam is an integral part of bringing the kingdoms of this world under the sovereign rod of iron which He is about to give to His saints.

Rev 2:26  And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27  And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ begins with this promise of rulership for those in whom Christ dwells, and it ends with this promise being fulfilled:

Rev 20:1  And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Rev 20:3  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Rev 20:4  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The further we go in our studies of this prophecy of Isaiah, the more emphatic our Lord becomes in declaring that He, as our Creator, has every right to do with His creation as He sees fit and that we as His creatures have no right to even question Him. We are all very familiar with what He declares to us in:

Isa 45:5  I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Isa 45:6  That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
Isa 45:7  I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Then immediately He admonishes us:

Isa 45:9  Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
Isa 45:10  Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

But the reason we are warned against striving with our Maker is that we were created to do so, and our Creator knew that was exactly what we would just naturally do. That is the very meaning of these words:

Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

We were made "marred in the hand of the Potter" for the very purpose of giving God "an occasion" (Jdg 14:4) to destroy our old man and all that pertains to him. Mankind is a beast:

Ecc 3:18  I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

But Ecc 3:18 is not the sum of God's word on this subject of what is our "marred vessel of clay".

2Pe 2:12  But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

Is there another verse of scripture which tells us God made our old man for the specific purpose of taking him and destroying him? Yes, there are many such verses for the man who has been given eyes to see and ears to hear that "mankind shall... live... by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Mat 4:4). I will just repeat the two we have already covered in this study:

Rom 9:10  And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;
Rom 9:11  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of [our] works, but of him that calleth;)
Rom 9:12  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
Rom 9:13  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
Rom 9:14  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
Rom 9:15  For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Rom 9:16  So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
Rom 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

Esau and Pharaoh are both types of the flesh of all men and the old man within us all who "cannot inherit the kingdom of God":

1Co 15:50  Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

However, our flesh does not want to hear that Truth. Our flesh recoils to hear that God made our bodies of flesh for the very purpose of destroying them, and to nullify the Truth of 1Corinthians 15:50, mankind has developed the false doctrine of a physical bodily resurrection.  Those who teach this false doctrine, when confronted with the plain language of 1Corinthians 15:50, resort to yet another false doctrine which they call 'spiritual flesh', apparently oblivious of the words of Christ Himself when explaining this subject to Nicodemus:

Joh 3:6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Yes, it is true, Christ's physical body did not see corruption. However, it did not inherit the kingdom of God either. Rather it was "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [into] a spiritual body" (1Co 15:52). As such it was possible for Christ to appear to His disciples in a body of "flesh and bone" immediately following His resurrection, but that is because spirit can appear as flesh. The fact is that everything that is physically seen and can be physically touched is not "made of things which do appear":

Heb 11:3  Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

All of this is "the pride and stoutness of heart" which is just naturally within God's own people. It is this pride-filled marred condition with which He is working, and which He is in the process of purging out of His people":

Eze 20:38  And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

Isa 9:9  And all the people shall know, even Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in the pride and stoutness of heart,

Because of this pride and stoutness of heart:

Isa 9:14  Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.

What are the "head and tail, branch and rush [which will be] cut off... in one day" as God judges His people and destroys the kingdom of our old man and the kingdoms of this world? We don't need to speculate who or what this "head and the tail" is. The very next verse tells us:

Isa 9:15  The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.

This verse gives us the interpretation of the symbolism of the tails of the locusts in these verses of Revelation 9.

Rev 9:1  And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
Rev 9:2  And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. ["The sun and the air" are the light and the spiritual truths which are the Word of God]
Rev 9:3  And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

Locust devour everything in their path. Christ indicts the shepherds of His flock for doing just that:

Eze 34:8  As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;

The "power of a scorpion" is in the tails of these locusts, and look at what the tails of these locusts are given to do with that power:

Rev 9:4  And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Rev 9:5  And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
Rev 9:6  And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
Rev 9:7  And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
Rev 9:8  And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
Rev 9:9  And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
Rev 9:10  And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.

These locusts are as powerful as a horse, they appear as royalty wearing crowns of gold, they have the faces of men, the hair of women and they have the teeth of lions. What do these stinging, powerful, lion-like locusts symbolize? The scriptures come right out and tell us what these locusts symbolize:

Zec 11:3  There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
Zec 11:4  Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;
Zec 11:5  Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

The tails of these scorpions are defined right here in Isaiah as "the prophet that teaches lies, he is the tail" of the stinging, scorpion, lion-like locusts.

The political head of a nation leads even the prophets. King David led all Israel. He worked with the Lord's prophets, and the later kings like Uzziah over Judah, and Ahab and his wife Jezebel were "the ancient and the honorable...heads" of God's people. Aha was the head over his own lying prophets.

Here is a very clear example of the fruits of listening to "the ancient and honorable 'head' and his "prophets that [taught] lies":

1Ki 22:5  And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
1Ki 22:6  Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.

As we are about to discover, God had already decided that all these prophets were "tails... prophets that teach lies". So let's continue on with our story:

1Ki 22:7  And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?
1Ki 22:8  And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.
1Ki 22:9  Then the king of Israel called an officer, and said, Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah.
1Ki 22:10  And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them.
1Ki 22:11  And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them.
1Ki 22:12  And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand.

These are four hundred 'tails', four  hundred false prophets who are prophesying lies to "the head[s]... the ancient and the honorable" kings of Israel and Judah. Ahab is "the head" of Israel, so he says: "Hasten hither Micaiah the son of Imlah". Even the Lord's true prophets are subject to the powers that be (Rom 13:1) as long as those powers are not demanding that God's true prophets disobey God (Act 5:29). So when summoned by the king, the Lord's prophet appeared before the king, "the ancient and honorable... head" of the nation of Israel.

Now let's pay close attention to the difference between "the prophet that teaches lies" and a true prophet of God:

1Ki 22:13  And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.
1Ki 22:14  And Micaiah said, As the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.
1Ki 22:15  So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
1Ki 22:16  And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?
1Ki 22:17  And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. [Israel was about to lose its "head... the ancient and the honorable". Israel was about to lose its leader].
1Ki 22:18  And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?
1Ki 22:19  And he [Micaiah] said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
1Ki 22:20  And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
1Ki 22:21  And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
1Ki 22:22  And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
1Ki 22:23  Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.
1Ki 22:24  But Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near, and smote Micaiah on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee?
1Ki 22:25  And Micaiah said, Behold, thou shalt see in that day, when thou shalt go into an inner chamber to hide thyself.
1Ki 22:26  And the king of Israel said, Take Micaiah, and carry him back unto Amon the governor of the city, and to Joash the king's son;
1Ki 22:27  And say, Thus saith the king, Put this fellow in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.
1Ki 22:28  And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you.
1Ki 22:29  So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.
1Ki 22:30  And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.
1Ki 22:31  But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.
1Ki 22:32  And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, Surely it is the king of Israel. And they turned aside to fight against him: and Jehoshaphat cried out.
1Ki 22:33  And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, that they turned back from pursuing him.
1Ki 22:34  And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.
1Ki 22:35  And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot.
1Ki 22:36  And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country.
1Ki 22:37  So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.
1Ki 22:38  And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.

Here is what Micaiah knew to be true, and for which he was willing to eat the bread of affliction and to drink the water of affliction. It is our next verse:

Isa 9:16  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.

The people of a nation are led both by their political leaders and by their religious leaders, and both lead those who follow them into destruction. This is what we are told about the prophets who teach lies:

Eze 14:1  Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.
Eze 14:2  And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Eze 14:3  Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?
Eze 14:4  Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;
Eze 14:5  That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.
Eze 14:6  Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
Eze 14:7  For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
Eze 14:8  And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
Eze 14:9  And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
Eze 14:10  And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;
Eze 14:11  That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.

Just as the Kings Jehoshaphat and Ahab called the prophets to inquire of the Lord, these "elders of Israel" had also come before the prophet Ezekiel to "inquire of the Lord". So "the leaders of this people [who] cause them to err" are both the political and religious leaders, and as demonstrated by the story of King Ahab's destruction for listening to his lying prophets, and by this prophecy of Ezekiel, "the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;". Which brings us to our last verse in today's study:

Isa 9:17  Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one is an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

While "His anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still", Christ has given Himself a reason for all this fiery purging judgment. In the words of Isaiah:

Isa 26:9  With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

Ezekiel confirms this fruit of the Lord's judgments when he concludes:

Eze 14:10  And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;
Eze 14:11  That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.

Lord willing, next week we will examine the admonition the Lord gives us concerning His judgments in these last verses of chapter nine.

Isa 9:18  For wickedness burneth as the fire: it shall devour the briers and thorns, and shall kindle in the thickets of the forest, and they shall mount up like the lifting up of smoke.
Isa 9:19  Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
Isa 9:20  And he shall snatch on the right hand, and be hungry; and he shall eat on the left hand, and they shall not be satisfied: they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm:
Isa 9:21  Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: and they together shall be against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

[Questions or comments can be directed to the author at vinsmike@gmail.com]

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