Refusing to Learn

“Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts?” (v. 9).

- Isaiah 28:1–15

Chapter 28 is the first part of a section of woes, which continues through chapter 33. In this first chapter, God rebukes Israel for its pride, and He reproves Judah for its refusal to listen to His teaching. Though the Lord would temporarily save Judah from going into captivity along with the 10 tribes of Israel, the Jews were guilty of great sin before the Lord. They had become like drunken men, a metaphorical description that is given in 28:7–8. Their crime was not that they had actually become drunk, but that they had become so desensitized by the world and so confused in their thinking that they were like drunkards who no longer could perceive the truth.

Their sin was magnified by the fact that God had been their teacher, but they had refused to listen, treating Him as one who stammered and could not be understood. The Lord, therefore, reproached them for their ignorance and blindness. They were a people who had been shown more light than any other, and yet in many ways they still lived in the darkness. They turned their eyes from the light that was offered to them, preferring to sin rather than to be enlightened.

The punishment that God would bring upon them would be the result of this willful ignorance. He would take all light from them and strike them with such bewilderment that they would be totally deprived of the benefit of saving doctrine. The promises of God would mean nothing to them, and they would find no comfort in His Word. John Calvin writes, “The Jews shall be justly punished for their ingratitude; not that the word shall be taken from them, but that they shall be deprived of sound judgment and understanding, and shall be blind amidst the clearest light.”

Paul quotes this passage in 1 Corinthians 14:21 when he reproves the Corinthians for loving the applause of people instead of loving the truth of God. The Corinthians improperly aspired to those things that brought no real advantage instead of resting on the Word of the Lord, which alone brings security, peace, and true understanding.

The church has too often been guilty of being blind in the midst of great light. Woe be unto those who have closed their ears to Scripture’s instruction, for they will become hardened in their ignorance and blind to the doctrines of grace.

Coram Deo

The prophet mocks the Jews by saying they had to learn like children, precept upon precept and little by little. This was not a compliment. While you are to have the humble heart of a child, you are not always to learn as a child. You should be growing in your understanding of Scripture. Make this your desire as you study daily.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 50:17
Proverbs 1:7; 18:15
Isaiah 5:24
Jeremiah 6:10
Zechariah 7:12

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.