In the first part of this section of chapter 22 Isaiah gives another somber oracle to Israel regarding the persecution that will come to them from Assyria. The trumpet of warning is sounded and the people will respond to it but not with proper motives.
The passage says that they did some fortifying to Jerusalem but it was because their houses were in it and not because God’s house was in it. It was all about them and not at all about God.
God’s whole purpose in bringing this calamity upon His people was to see them come to repentance. God’s discipline of us is always for the same reason. He wants to see us restored. However, if we spurn the Fatherly rod there will be just consequences.
Jerusalem ignored the warning and not only that, they mocked the warning! “Therefore in that day the LORD GOD of hosts, called you to weeping, to wailing, to shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth. Instead there is gaiety and gladness, killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine.”
They took some minimal steps to repair the breaches in the walls of their city and then they sat down to “eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.”
Henry's words on this passage are profound. They have pierced my heart and I will share them in their entirety.
“God’s design in bringing this calamity upon them was to humble them and
bring them to repentance. In that day of trouble the Lord did thereby call
them to weeping and mourning, and all the expressions of sorrow, even to
baldness and girding with sackcloth; and this to lament their sins, to enforce
their prayers, and to dispose themselves to a reformation of their lives. To this God called them by His prophet’s explaining of His providences.
How contrary they walked to this design of God. They were as secure and cheerful as if they had had no enemy or were in no danger. When they had taken precautions for their security, they set dangers at defiance, and resolved to be merry: Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.”
This was the language of the profane scoffers who mocked the messengers of the Lord and misused His prophets. They made a jest of dying. They ridiculed the doctrine of a future state on the other side of death. A practical disbelief of another life after this is at the bottom of the carnal security and brutish sensuality which are the sin, and shame, and ruin of so great a part of mankind.”