Isaiah 32 – Israel’s Ultimate Deliverance & Sin Versus Iniquity

I’m sure glad that I’m not You, I don’t know how You do it, how You can put up with us, but then again, You’re God and You can do anything:

Reconstruction of the central courtyard of a two-storey house in ancient Israel
The size of the rooms was limited by the fact that rooms could only be as wide as the beams that supported the roof. Beams, usually wooden and roughly shaped, reached from one wall to the other, and were covered with a mixture of woven branches and clay, which was smoothed with a stone roller.

The inner walls were finished with a smooth coat of clay or plaster, which could be decorated with frescoes, elaborate in the houses of the rich, simpler in the houses of ordinary people. Wide benches of mud brick or stone for sitting and sleeping, and shelves for storage, were built into the structure itself.

Stairs or a wooden ladder led up onto the roof, which was used as an outdoor room that was partly shaded by matting or a ten-like superstructure. The inside rooms tended to be small and dark, so the courtyard and the roof were important parts of the house, used for tasks that needed good light – such as spinning and weaving, and food preparation. The flat roof area might also be used for sleeping, or for drying food or textiles.

In the earlier period of Jewish history, it may also have been used for bathing – Bathsheba was probably bathing herself on the flat roof of her house when she was seen by King David (see the story of this famous act of voyeurism in 2 Samuel 11:2-4).

The Central Courtyard
In the courtyard of a 1st century house you might find:

• the mikveh, a pool of clean rainwater used for ritual cleansing by both men and women

• a stone-based cooking area with a fire, cooking utensils and possibly an oven

• stone or clay implements for grinding small amounts of grain

• a covered area where people sat while they worked or talked

• a covered area for animals – people lived at close quarters with their animals.

This outside area was, if the weather was good, a center of activity and socializing.

By modern standards, the houses of people in ancient Palestine were sparsely furnished. Ordinary people sat on cushions or mats on the floor to eat, rather than sitting on chairs at a table. They slept on padded matting filled with stuffing. Tables, couches and beds were only used in the houses of the rich.

For with God nothing shall be impossible (Lk 1:37). 

1 Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.

“King…reign in righteousness” – the Messianic age is again in view (see 9:7, 11:4, 16:5 and notes).

2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

“A man… hiding place’ – the Lord’s redeemed, as sources of protection and blessing, will reflect Him.

“Hiding place…covert…shadow” – similar terms are applied to the Lord in 25:4 (see 4:5-6 and note).

3 And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken.

4 The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.

5 The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.

32:5-8 – the redeemed will no longer be among the fools.  The contrast between the fool and the wise or noble man is characteristic of wisdom literature (compare Prov 9:1-6 with Prov 9:13-18).

6 For the vile person will speak villany, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the LORD, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.

7 The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.

“Churl” – another word for a fool.

“The needy speaketh right” – the fool disregards the truthful words of the needy (see 1:17 and note).

8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.

9  Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto my speech.

“Women” – cf 3:16-4:1.

“At ease…careless” – “careless” here means “complacent” (see v 11; Amos 6:1).  These words are used in a good sense in 18 (the Hebrew for “quiet” is the same as that for “careless”).

10 Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye careless women: for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come.

Merneptah Stele
Dated to c. 1219 B.C.E., the Merneptah Stele is the earliest extrabiblical record of a people group called Israel. Set up by Pharaoh Merneptah to commemorate his military victories, he boasts that he has destroyed his enemies in Canaan.

The word “Israel” here is written in Egyptian with the determinative for people rather than land. This implies that Israel did not have a king or kingdom at this time. This would be the time of the judges.

The text also implies that Israel was as strong as the other cities mentioned, and not just a small tribe. The south to north order of the three city-states may provide a general location for Israel.

Joshua 15:9 and 18:15 reads, “well of waters of Nephtoah,” which may be the Hebrew name of Merneptah. The well which is probably anachronistically named after Merneptah would be near Jerusalem.

“The vintage shall fail” – the armies of Assyria would bring widespread destruction, ruining the summer fruit.

11 Tremble, ye women that are at ease; be troubled, ye careless ones: strip you, and make you bare, and gird sackcloth upon your loins.

12 They shall lament for the teats, for the pleasant fields, for the fruitful vine.

“Lament for the teats” – Lit. “[they will be] wailing on their breasts.”  They will be beating their breasts like the slave girls of Nineveh (Nah 2:7).

13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:

14 Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;

“Places…multitude of the city” – Assyria’s invasion is a warning that Jerusalem (see 24:10 and note) will one day be destroyed.

15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest.

“Until the sprit” – the outpouring of the Spirit is linked with abundance also in 44:3 (see v 2, 11:2 and notes; Joel 2:28-32).

“Fruitful field…forest” – the forest probably stands for Lebanon (see 29:17 and note).

16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

17 And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.

18 And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;

19 When it shall hail, coming down on the forest; and the city shall be low in a low place.

“Hail” – probably Assyria (see 10:33-34 and notes).

20 Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass.

Sin Versus Iniquity

The following paragraphs are not mine, they are by David Reagon, but I agree with them.  A quick analogy of the difference is a virus and a fatal disease. 

Sin is a virus and it can be cured.  It doesn’t matter what it is, anything from a headache to the flu, they are all just a virus, as God sees all sins of equal value.  While iniquity is like cancer and AIDS, they are fatal diseases.

We all sin, as Romans 3:23 says, and we can’t help ourselves because we live in sinful world, just like we all get viruses/bugs from time to time. 

To me, iniquity begins as a sin, but the sinner could care less about Jesus.  Therefore, this tiny virus is not treated and it grows and grows and becomes the fatal disease. 

The words, sin and iniquity, are found together in some form in about 70 verses in the Bible.  Many times they are used parallel to one another:

“For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin” (Ps 38:18).

Although we can be certain that they are synonyms and have the same basic meaning, there must also be something that distinguishes them.  Let us consider these two words.

The word, sin, is the most general term for those actions which are wrong.  One word picture looks at sin as missing the mark.  If we think of this in the terms of an archer shooting for a bull’s eye in a target, this may give us a good idea of the meaning of sin.

He may overshoot the target.  We do that when we go beyond God’s allowed actions and commit what are commonly called sins of commission.  That is, we do something we are not supposed to do.  However, the arrow may also fall short of the mark.

This would be a picture of sins of omission.  This refers to the things we should have done but fail to do.  The arrow might even go to the right or to the left of the target, but we are to follow God’s word without turning from it to the right hand or the left hand:

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Josh 1:7).

Therefore, anything that comes short of the perfect glory of God (the center of the target) is sin:

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

Sin covers all wrong doing of any sort.

In many places, iniquity also seems to be a word dealing with all kinds of sin.  However, with iniquity, there is a difference.  First of all, whereas sin deals with the action or lack of action that is wrong, iniquity deals more with the character or nature of the act.

The word, iniquity, comes from in-equity and it refers to that which is unequal, unfair, or unjust.  That explains why David refers to “the iniquity of my sin.”  His sinful actions had the character of iniquity; of being unequal.

“I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid.  I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.  Selah” (Ps 32:5).

According to “Crabb’s Synonyms,” iniquity in its more narrow meaning “consists of violating the law of right between man and man.”  The Oxford English Dictionary says that it is used especially of “wrongful or injurious actions towards another, infliction of wrong, injury.”

To practice iniquity is to be unjust and unequal in our dealings with others.  We see this side of iniquity often in scripture.  The workers of iniquity are those who eat up God’s people like bread:

“Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge.  Who eat up my people as they eat bread and call not upon the LORD” (Ps 14:4).

“Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace when mischief is in their hearts” (Ps 28:3).

“Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of workers of iniquity” (Ps 141:9).

The money Judas received for betraying Jesus is called “the reward of iniquity” :

“Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18).

In summary, iniquity refers to that which is un-equal in our dealings with others.  In earlier English, it was especially used to refer to our unequal dealings with other men.   In time in came to include our unequal dealings with God and therefore to include all wrongdoing.  

However, its use in the King James Bible retains some of this earlier distinction.  And, whereas the word, sin, emphasizes the wrong action itself; the word, iniquity, emphasizes the true character of that wrong action. As God declared in the Book of Isaiah:

“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with: it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting” (Isa 1:13).

“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” (Hab 1:13).

The two direct scriptures explain how great an effect iniquity has on God, so how can He bare to even look at us, let alone save us?

I had wondered about this and sometime around 2008 when I was doing one of my many Bible Studies in prison I came across a pamphlet by, if I remember correctly, Texe Marrs. 

The way I now understand how such a holy God can bare to even look at us is that once we accept Jesus God can see us because He sees us through His Son where there is no sin or iniquity.

It doesn’t matter how fabulous you think you are or how great your wife or husband thinks you are, you’re trash.  We all are trash compared to God and it doesn’t matter what others think of us, to please God is the goal and the only thing that matters. 

“But we are all as an unclean  thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquitie4s,like the wind, have taken us away (Isa 54:6).

So next time you see someone that you think is worthless because they are poor or not so bright or whatever, before you judge them, remember that God sees them and you the same.  Yet, if you judge that person then you have lowered your own standards.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Mat 7:1-2).

One more thing, and it is definitely good news.  Years ago, I think it was in 2009 or 2010, one day God said to me, “You can do no wrong.”  That was a bit confusing.

First I thought He meant that I have to be very careful of what I do, that I was walking a very thin line and there were sins that others could get away with, but I if I did them I’d find myself in hell. 

Thank god, and I mean, Thank God, I was wrong about that.  He told me that I had misunderstood Him, but He didn’t explain anything to me.  So then I thought does that mean that I can get away with anything?  Wrong again.

God then directed me to how Paul explains it all:

“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 7:15-8:1).

So what does all that mean?  Does it mean that as long as we believe in Jesus that it’s okay to sin?  No it does not.  As Paul clearly said:

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

What then?  Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?  God forbid.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, o9r of obedience unto righteousness?

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:14-16 and 23).

It means that God loves us no matter what sins we commit.  Yet, that does not mean we will not be punished according to the sin we commit, trust me on that, I have experience in this field.  If you prefer to sin you will serve the devil and go to hell, like the Pope, or you can serve God, it’s one or the other that is the free will that God gives us.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Heb 12:6-11).