“The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”
These words were first uttered by leaders in Israel and in response to a limited strike by Assyria on the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali – an attack the prophet makes clear is actually part of a limited judgment by God against apostasy. It wasn’t meant to destroy the nation, but to awaken it, according to most commentaries.
Israel didn’t take the cue. Instead, the response from the people in Isaiah 9:10 is one of defiance. The brick buildings were toppled, but they vowed to build bigger and better. The little sycamore trees were uprooted, but they vowed to plant bigger and better cedars in their place.
God, speaking through Isaiah, explains what will happen as a result of their pride and arrogance and failure to heed the warning: Bigger and more potent attacks will follow.
Because neither the northern kingdom of Israel nor the southern kingdom of Judah truly repents, the first is eventually swept away by Assyrian invaders and the latter is carried off into captivity by the Babylonians for 70 years.
Rabbi Johnathan Cahn says the same thing happened to the USA on September 11, 2001.
In the aftermath of the attack, the nation was stunned. Everyone was trying to make sense of what had happened – this unprecedented attack on America. The very next day, September 12, then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle presented America’s response to the world. And what did he say?”
Daschle said: “America will emerge from this tragedy as we have emerged from all adversity – united and strong. Nothing … nothing can replace the losses of those who have suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that speaks to all of us at times like this.”
He then went on to read Isaiah 9:10, which is not a promise of blessing but of rebellion and defiance against God.
On the third anniversary of 9/11, Senator John Edwards’ entire speech was built on a foundation of Isaiah 9:10: “Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s Word to get us through,” he said. He then read Isaiah 9:10. He went on to talk about how America was doing just that – rebuilding with hewn stone and planting cedars.
Our response should not be one of defiance but repentance and a return to the foundation of Godliness.