Isaiah 30 Part 2 – The Sieve of Vanity

In the first part of Chapter 30, Isaiah pronounced a woe to the rebellious children. He then said God would wait for them (v 18); That is, He would wait for them to repent. Isaiah then saw into the millennium, after the ‘rebellious children’ of Judah had repented and were walking with God. (vv 19-24) As we continue in Chapter 30, Isaiah looks at the period that precedes the millennium, the great tribulation period. This is when the nation of Israel will come to repentance and find Christ. Just when it looks like it is all over for Israel, Christ returns and crushes Israel’s enemies at the battle of Armageddon. (Zech 14; cf Rev 19)

Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Isaiah 30:25-33
25 And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.

I believe this verse contains a reference to 9/11. Traditionally, this verse has been considered an eschatological verse. I believe 9/11 was a prophetic alert, like the ten-second warning that the round is almost over. The church age is almost over, and there will be more towers falling during the great tribulation period that follows the church age. The rivers and streams of waters have been interpreted both literally and figuratively, as streams watering the desert and as blessings showered down by God upon his people. Both interpretations are true. Both these things will happen in the millennium.

26 Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.

Imagine sunlight reflected from the moon at 2:00 AM being like midday sunshine. The people who are alive during the great tribulation period will not have to imagine it, because it is going to happen. If you’ve ever walked around Las Vegas at noontime, you know that the sunlight can be pretty intense. I cannot imagine what that would feel like multiplied seven times. The people who miss the rapture will not have to imagine it. They will experience it for themselves. (Cf Rev 16:8f)

27 Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
28 And his breath, as an overflowing stream, shall reach to the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity: and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err.

The devouring fire, I believe, will be nuclear war. The sieve of vanity seems to be an apt description of popular culture. Satan desired to sift the apostle Peter like wheat. (Lk 22:31) I believe that is exactly what is happening to those who are swept up in the vanity of these last days. Eventually the vanity will become a strong delusion. (2 Thess 2:11) Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. I believe the bridle in the jaws of the people, causing them to err is probably the mark of the beast. The pressure to take it as a necessary means of survival will be immense. Once the mark is taken, it will open the door to demonic possession, as it will be a pledge of allegiance of sorts to the beast. The mark of the beast will be capable of mood control, if not mind control. This has already been proven in tests with implantable microchips, like the ability to put the user to sleep. This is why the people who take it will refuse to repent. (Rev 16:11)

29 Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One of Israel.
30 And the LORD shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall shew the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones.
31 For through the voice of the LORD shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.
32 And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the LORD shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.
33 For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.
Isaiah 30:25-33


Isaiah ends the chapter with a fire and brimstone warning to the rebellious children (v 1) and their enemies, the Assyrians (v 31). Isaiah put most of the hope and encouragement in the middle of the chapter, but these last verses are given to put the fear of God into us. The Bible says we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12) The Bible says God will look to the man who trembles at his word. (Isa 66:2) In the comments under verse 25, I mentioned the ten-second warning at the end of the round in a boxing match. Maybe a better metaphor would be a wrestling match. The Bible says we are supposed to wrestle. (Eph 6:12) The wrestling matches of Paul’s day were not like what we think of as wrestling. Wrestling was full-contact combat. There were only a few rules: no hitting, kicking, biting, or eye gouging—and no attacking the genitals. A wrestler who broke the rules did not lose a point; he was whipped. The objective was the same as it is today, to pin your opponent, but unlike today, wrestling matches sometimes resulted in death.

Paul likened spiritual warfare to a brutal physical conflict, but we wrestle not with flesh and blood. Another vivid picture of the warfare Christians engage in is seen in the book of Joshua. The wilderness wanderings are a picture of Christians who live in defeat. In the book of Exodus, they were delivered from Egypt, yes, but they doubted God’s promises. Consequently, they wandered around in the wilderness. The book of Joshua is different. They entered the Promised Land. There were battles to fight, but when they trusted God and walked in obedience, they always won. What was the difference? They had Joshua (Hebrew for Jesus) as their leader. It has been said that Joshua led them into the Promised Land; Jesus (Greek for Joshua) leads us into a land of promises. Just as it was in the book of Joshua, in the Christian life there are battles to fight. Disobedience and sin in the camp lead to defeat. (Josh 7) Obedience—through faith—leads to victories won in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Josh 6) This means trusting Jesus and following his instructions even when they do not make sense to us. The point is, we need to fight. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Our weapons are mighty, but only if we use them. Did you know the Greek word connected with the sword of the Spirit is not logos, but rhema?

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [Gk rhema] of God:
Ephesians 6:17

The logos is the written word,* while rhema is the spoken word. It is not always enough to memorize a Bible verse; to engage the enemy, sometimes you need to speak it out loud. That is the sword of the Spirit. The seventh weapon Paul lists in Ephesians 6 is prayer (seven being the number of completion).

We are in a war. We are under attack. We need to fight.

Father help us to number our days and make the most of the time that has been given us. Please account us worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before your Son, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


* While logos may refer to the spoken word in a literal sense of the word, the way God speaks is through his written word. Therefore logos refers to his written word in a biblical context. (Heb 4:12)