Survival of the kingdom of Judah was important to God because the Messiah was going to come from that tribe of the nation of Israel. Whereas the purpose of captivity was to disperse the northern kingdom of Israel throughout the world, God intended to keep the southern kingdom of Judah in tact. In order to do that, God had to convince the people of Judah that their natural instincts couldn’t be trusted. Only God knew what was best for them.
Isaiah referred to the people of Judah as rebellious children. Their tendency to turn away from God and rely on the advice of false prophets caused them to be broken and crushed by their own sin. Isaiah stated, “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me, and that cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh and trust in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:1-2).
Fear was the greatest enemy of God’s people. When they were confronted with difficult circumstances, they wanted to go back to Egypt, which represented to them the comfort of a familiar way of life. God wanted his people to do something that was completely against their nature, sit still (Isaiah 30:7). Otherwise, they would be broken beyond repair (Isaiah 30:14).
Isaiah conveyed a sharp contrast between God’s will and the people’s intuition to flee to Egypt when he said:
For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill. (Isaiah 30:15-17)
God wanted to prevent the people of Judah from making a big mistake, but he knew their rebellious nature would get the better of them. Therefore, he was determined to make a disastrous example of those who fled to Egypt when the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem in 701 B.C.
In order for God’s children to survive, they had to learn to listen to him and do what he told them to do. Like little children receiving instructions from their parent, God expected his people to pay close attention to every word he said (Isaiah 30:21). Eventually, they would receive the benefit of God’s faithfulness “in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isaiah 30:26).