“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? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” Isa 28:9, 10
The italicized part of this text is likewise repeated once again in Verse 13 with the additional statement,
“… That they might go and fall backward, and be broken, snared, and taken.”
From this many have erroneously surmised that this method of study is the wrong way to study, that if the child of God be taught in such a manner, he would “fall backward, and be broken, snared, and taken”.
But is this true?
We believe not, why? Because it is our opinion that this it is indeed the Lords means of instructing his people, that the trouble here is merely due to a misunderstanding not only of the specific text itself, but likewise of whom specifically the Lord was addressing. From a thorough review of the chapter we determine that he is addressing two specific classes, 1) “the drunkards of Ephraim” (Verse 1), i.e. The Church Nominal, Babylon, and 2) the “remnant of His people” (Verse 6), “those weaned from the milk”, the true children of God. The failure is in understanding how our subject text is applied to the two separate classes mentioned in this prophecy. In other words this same method of instruction, “precept upon precept, line upon line” is applied to both classes, but yields differing results.
The Lord points out in (Verse 9) that none may expect to understand His doctrine, the Truth, except those who will progress from the position of babes in Christ, that they may become strong men in Him; and that the course of procedure to attain this development is a feeding upon the Truth of the Divine Revelation.
Let us, dear friends, be of this class who are not satisfied with merely remaining babes in Christ, but who will go on to perfection and to a realization of the privileges that are ours, both in the present life and in that which is to come.
“The Lord proceeds to show how and why the Divine Revelation has been given in its present disconnected and broken form in the Scriptures. He informs us that He has a two-fold purpose in this: first, that His true people may the more particularly learn to depend upon Him and be strengthened through their search for the Truth, here a little and there a little, line upon line and precept upon precept, with stammering lips and in a foreign language, instead of plain statements in our native tongue. (That is to say sometimes statements are made, or words used, that are incoherent and difficult to grasp, without a deeper study and investigation, thus proving our love for the Lord and his Truth).
These difficult conditions are really helpful to those who are of the right attitude of heart in that they learn lessons which otherwise might escape them. And in the end the harmony of the fragments of Truth from Genesis to Revelation, often disconnectedly stated, becomes a demonstration and power to those who come to see their relationship, harmony and beauty. To such they have perhaps a greater strength, which would not come through a more plain and direct statement.
The Lord tells us that this arrangement which He had made is quite sufficient to cause all the weary to rest and to be refreshed. And all of the proper class, all of the Lord’s “little flock,” we may be sure, will rest in these promises and will be refreshed by them.
Secondly, the matter was stated in this fragmentary form, so that all others (“the drunkards of Ephraim”, the nominal professor), other than the Israelites indeed (John 1:47) might be confused, might fall away, might be stumbled, broken, ensnared, entrapped, just as the Lord stated in Verse 13. The Word of God contains a bountiful provision of milk of the Truth and of strong meat of the Truth, covering all the knowledge necessary to the man of God that he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work. (2 Tim 3:16, 17)
But these things are not intended for all. As our Lord declared to the disciples, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear” (Matt 13:16); and again, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God; but to others [outsiders] in parables; that seeing, they might not see, and hearing, they might not understand.” (Luke 8:10) But to outsiders, to all not Israelites indeed, the precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little, served not for their up-building, but for their ensnarement with error, that they “might go and fall backward and be snared and taken.” (SM110)
“For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people, to whom He said, “This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest,” And, “This is the refreshing”; yet they would not hear. But the word of the Lord was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little,” That they might go and fall backward, and be broken, snared and caught.” Isa 28:11-13
“Verses 10-12 show that it will take a great many more lessons to help those in Babylon who are not yet ready to be helped; for he will no longer speak to them through the old tongues–the intoxicated “priests and prophets,” mentioned in Verse 7 (the ministers and clergy of today) to whom they still look for leading. But rather “with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” He will raise up other teachers–teachers not ordained of men (of orthodoxy), but rather those ordained of God–whom therefore they will not be incline to recognize or heed; because they will not “prophesy smooth things,” saying, Peace! Peace! When there is no peace, nor will they “tickle their ears” preaching only what they wish to hear. And when these point out the true rest and refreshment of divine truth, they will not hear nor take heed.”
Those to whom the Lord chooses to speak his truth are chiefly the common people in the eyes of the world and therefore esteemed unqualified to speak (to preach); nevertheless it pleases the Lord to speak through such. Being that not many of these are great orator’s or public speakers such tend to stumble, “stammer” at times when addressing others, yet their words are nevertheless true, they come from the heart from a love for the Lord and for his truth. However the main reason why they are misunderstood by the world and the professing church is because they speak in “another tongue”, they speak a spiritual tongue, a tongue which only the spirit begotten can rightfully understand. (1 Cor 2:6-16)
Having we hope now a better understanding of the two specific classes addressed by the Lord in this prophecy let us look at it again from the perspective of the “drunkards of Ephraim” how do they view the words of the Lord as spoken in this prophecy specifically those spoken in Verses 9 and 10, viz. “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? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”
“Who then [asks the “drunkards of Ephraim”] is it whom he desires to learn understanding, and who can he make to give attention to his preaching?–Are we then recently weaned from the mother’s milk, recently taken from the mother’s breast?
For it is nagging upon nagging, nagging upon nagging, prating upon prating, prating upon prating, a little here, a little there [as if this class should say: ‘what does he take us for?–we are no babies either; it was not yesterday we discarded the old-fashioned theory of the fall and the redemption of man, etc.,–we are full-grown mature Higher Critics; and yet there are those who never let us alone, but are nagging at us ceaselessly, giving out tracts, papers and books, which represent us before the public as deceivers,’ etc.
Well, yes, through stammering lips and in a strange language shall he speak to this people, he who nevertheless has said unto them: ‘Here is the place of rest let the weary get rest; here is the place where refreshment is given,’ but such they would not hear. And thus the Lord’s Word shall be for them, ‘nagging upon nagging, nagging upon nagging, prating upon prating, prating upon prating, a little here, a little there, so that they, as they walk on, fall backward and are crushed, become ensnared and captured.”
Refusing to accept God’s grand plan for salvation, which would give them rest, they are annoyed by those who are pointing out its beauty, which to them is merely prating, and the result is that they fall completely into the snares of the adversary.” (R3531)
We will continue with this study in our next post.