For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon—that He may do His work, His awesome [STRANGE – KJV] work, and bring to pass His act, His unusual [STRANGE – KJV] act (Isaiah 28:21, emphasis added).
HIS AWESOME WORK
When we read the words “awesome” or “strange act,” we automatically interpret this to mean unusual or odd. And those who believe God is the punisher of sinners believe this “strange work” means God will rise up to finally destroy them once and for all. But this interpretation makes no sense if God has been destroying sinners from the very inception of sin. If that is the case as many affirm, then there is nothing strange about God destroying sinners. Furthermore, this is not what this Hebrew word “strange” here means. The Hebrew word is , which means:
to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; specifically (active participle) to commit adultery: – (come from) another (man, place), fanner, go away, (e-) strange (-r, thing, woman) (Strong’s Concordance).
says that means “to depart.” And TWOT has the following entry for :
KB gives the basic meaning as “turn aside.” BDB cites the similar but apparently not related root that has this meaning.
Apart from its participial use, the word appears only four times in , twice in , and once in . Typical is Job 19:13, where Job states that his former friends have become “estranged” from him. The and are passive.
is principally used in the participial form, , appearing sixty-nine times. It carries the force of a noun, and is so listed by KB. It is used for some action strange to the law (Lev 10:1), and for one who is a stranger to another household (Deut 25:5), to another person (Prov 14:10), and to another land (Hos 7:9). The basic thought is of non-acquaintance or non-relatedness. The feminine form, “The Strange Woman,” often in Prov is the adulteress (TWOT).
God’s “strange act” is not an act of killing or destroying. His “strange act” is in essence to depart, to turn aside, to go away, to become a stranger to those who absolutely reject Him and His principles of agape love. It is true, however, that His turning aside does cause total panic and destruction. But this is not something that God does in order to punish those who reject Him. He does it in order to respect their freedom of choice.
God departs only when He absolutely has to, when He absolutely is no longer wanted. And He does so in deep pain, as a parent having to witness a child being killed by an intruder.
We can see His broken heart in a similar situation, as we look at Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, knowing that by rejecting Him, the Jews had sealed their fate at the hands of the Destroyer:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD’ Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis added).
Jesus wanted to protect His chosen people as a hen protects her little chicks with her wings. Did He want to protect them from Himself? Absolutely not! That would make no sense!
The work of God is to protect us from the Destroyer. But the Jews were not willing to receive the words of life which Jesus had come to bring. Therefore, their “house” was going to be left “desolate” because the glory of God was about to depart from it. A parallel passage in the Book of Luke describes when that was going to happen to the city that had rejected the Savior. Jesus was giving them a sign about when God was going to depart, when it would become “desolate:”
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:20-24).
Jerusalem would be surrounded by “armies” and this was a sign that its “desolation” was near. Jesus said these would be the days of “vengeance.” What did He mean by this? Did He mean that this would be God’s vengeance?
The word “vengeance” is the word which means “vindication, retribution, revenge, vengeance, punishment” (Strong’s Concordance). we ask, whose “vindication, retribution, revenge, vengeance or punishment’ was this? Was this punishment coming from the God of agape love, or from the god of reward and punishment?
God’s “strange act” is to “turn aside,” “to depart” from those who persecute and go to war with His people. His turning aside happens only then—because then they show that they have filled their cup of iniquity. Only by persecuting the true followers of Jesus do they seal their rejection of the gospel.
Today, many are getting a taste of the wrath of God already. They are panic stricken; they have pushed God so far away that they are being harassed by demons. God is calling all of us to come back to the only safe haven available to us. Why would we be destroyed when we have such a protector as God?
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah (Psalm 62:5-8)
God wants to protect us from Satan. We cannot remain safe one moment without His protective care:
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
HIS UNUSUAL ACT
As we finish our word study of Isaiah twenty-eight verse twenty-one, we will see what the second word “strange,” translated as “unusual” in the New King James Bible, means. This word is not the same word as the previous word for “strange” which was . Here the word for “strange” is the Hebrew word . Strong’s defines as this:
strange, in a variety of degrees and applications (foreign, non-relative, adulterous, different, wonderful): — alien, foreigner, outlandish, strange (-r, woman).” (Strong’s Concordance)
TWOT has the following entry for this word:
Foreign, strange, alien; often as a noun, “foreigner,” “stranger.” This term occurs over forty times and has a variety of uses… is normally translated “strange” or “stranger” in the av, but “foreign” or “foreigner” in the RSV. A non-Israelite is a “foreigner” (Jud 19:12; I Kgs 8:41 et al.). The term applies to a “foreign land” (Ex 2:22; 18:3) and “foreign (non-Israelite) women” (I Kgs 11:1, 8 et al.). In the book of Proverbs, “foreign (or strange) woman” () becomes a technical expression for a prostitute or adulteress (Prov 2:16; 5:20; 6:24 et al.). Sometimes carries the idea of “unknown,” “unfamiliar” (Job 19:15; Ps 69:8 [H 9]), or even “odd” or “surprising” (Isa 28:21).
In modern Hebrew, may stand for “gentile.”
As we can see, the last phase of “the wrath of God” means that God becomes a “stranger” to the people whom He has to let go. They have become foreigners to Him, because they now belong to another jurisdiction altogether. There is nothing in common with their ways of Good and Evil and God’s ways of agape love. They belong to a “foreign land,” the land of the Destroyer. Here also comes the symbolism of the prostitute, a “foreign woman,” a metaphor meaning spiritual adultery.
At this point, the story of Hosea (a name which interestingly means “salvation” or “deliverer) comes to mind. Hosea’s story is a living allegory through which God teaches us the mechanism of “the wrath of God:”
When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2, emphasis added).
Hosea took to himself Gomer, and Gomer began to have children. The first was Jezreel, which means “the Lord ” Then Gomer gave birth to a daughter, Lo-ruhamah, which means no-mercy. Then Gomer gave birth to a son, Lo-Ammi, which means “not my people:”
Call his name Lo-Ammi,
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God (Hosea 1:8).
Throughout the Book of Hosea, God outlines what the people have done and the whoredoms they have committed with the gods. Then He says in chapter five that He has withdrawn Himself from them:
With their flocks and herds
They shall go to seek the Lord,
But they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn Himself from them.
They have dealt treacherously with the Lord,
For they have begotten pagan children.
Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage
(Hosea 5:6-7, emphasis added).
The consequence of leaving God and His law of agape love for the gods and their teachings is that God has to give them up:
Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment,
Because he willingly walked by human precept [THE MORAL LAW OF GOOD AND EVIL] (Hosea 5:11, emphasis added).
Israel has rejected the good [AGAPE LOVE];
The enemy [SATAN] will pursue him
(Hosea 8:3, emphasis added).
They made idols for themselves—
That they might be cut off [LET GO BY GOD]
(Hosea 8:4, emphasis added).
Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin,
They have become for him altars for sinning.
I have written for him the great things of My law [AGAPE LOVE],
But they were considered a strange thing
(Hosea 8:11-12, emphasis added).
For Israel has forgotten his Maker,
And has built temples;
Judah also has multiplied fortified cities;
But I will send fire upon his cities,
And it shall devour his palaces” (Hosea 8:14).
I found Israel
Like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers
As the on the fig tree in its first season.
But they went to Baal Peor [SATAN],
And separated themselves [FROM GOD] to that shame;
They became an abomination like the thing they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird—
No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!
Though they bring up their children,
Yet I will bereave them to the last man.
Yes, woe to them when I depart [WHEN I AM FORCED TO HAND THEM OVER TO SATAN] from them!
Just as I saw Ephraim like , planted in a pleasant place,
Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer [SATAN] (Hosea 9:10-13, emphasis added).
Who is the murderer spoken of here? Is it God? Jesus told us who “the murderer” is:
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him (John 8:44, emphasis added).
In the next verses God clearly points out that eternal law of reaping and sowing from which no one can escape. This is a law of cause and effect, and is not an arbitrary act of God:
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity [GOOD AND EVIL].
You have sown wickedness and therefore you will reap iniquity!
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way [GOOD AND EVIL],
In the multitude of your mighty men [TRUSTED IN POWER AND VIOLENCE].
tumult shall arise among your people,
And all your fortresses shall be plundered
As Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle—
A mother dashed in pieces upon her children.
it shall be done to you, O Bethel,
Because of your great wickedness.
At dawn the king of Israel
Shall be cut off utterly (Hosea 10:13-15, emphasis added).
Lastly, in the next verses we hear again God’s deep pain as He addresses His people who are about to be destroyed by the Destroyer:
How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror (Hosea 11:8-9, emphasis added).
The story of Hosea is a type. It is an example. But the great antitype, which all the biblical types of the past point to, is about to take place in the very near future, as we will soon see explained in the Book of Revelation.