In our study of Isaiah chapter twenty eight, we look at both the history and the future final failure of religion. As we shall see, Israel and mankind as a whole have clung to religion as their hope to provide a right relationship with God. We will look at Israel's past and future to see that religion is not a refuge from the coming judgment of God and it does not grant you access to the shining city of His presence.
"Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards, to the fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley - to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine!" NIV translation
At the end of chapter 27, Isaiah prophesied of a day of harvest in which God's people would be gathered up to live with Him in the New Jerusalem. The "wreath" does not speak of a decoration you would put on your door or elsewhere as the Hebrew word is "atarah" which means "crown or wreath". This speaks of the city of Samaria which was the capitol of Israel at the time and was built on a hill with steep sides and a long flat top.
The name was "Shomron" in Hebrew which means "watch-tower" and the modern ruins are located a few miles north of the city of Nablus in what is known as the "West Bank" area of Israel.
During Isaiah's life, the city was one of luxury and indulgence combined with religious idolatry as false gods (Baal) were worshiped there. It was known for its very ornate structures and being the crowning achievement of the northern kingdom of Israel.
"See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground. That wreath, the pride of Ephraim's drunkards, will be trampled underfoot. That fading flower, his glorious beauty, set on the head of a fertile valley, will be like figs ripe before harvest - as soon as people see them and take them in hand, they swallow them." NIV translation
This verse speaks of the king of Assyria which would be the instrument that God used to judge the city and His people for their idolatry. The city would be consumed by the Assyrians and remains in ruins to this day.