Isaiah: Chapter 28 | The Wolfe Notes

Welcome, Family! We're spending 2024 with the prophet Isaiah. While we claim no expertise, we're excited to sit with you as we both learn at the feet of Jesus. Each month, we offer a calendar that outlines daily exercises (adapted from Jenn Wilkin's Women of the Word Bible study process) to progress through Isaiah. Download  May's calendar to begin with us and witness what we uncovered in our weekly "Wolfe Note" postings.

A stone wall with text overlay that quotes Isaiah 28:16.


  1. Different Versions Noting and clarifying differences between KJV NIRV.
  2. Annotation My thoughts, connections, clarifications, and questions.
  3. Research Crops and farming methods.
  4. Summary An approximately twenty word overview of the chapter.
  5. Memorize Why I chose to memorize Isaiah 28:16.
  6. Cross References Of Isaiah 28:16.
  7. Respond Based on reflections on God's character and my own.

Different Versions

I read Chapter 28 in the King James Version (KJV) and the New International Reader's Version (NIRV). The KJV is a word-for-word translation and the NIRV is a thought-for-thought translation.

Major differences I noticed (*My thoughts alone are in italics and designated with an asterisk.):
  • Isaiah 28:2
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one (1 omitted), which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, (2) shall cast down to the earth with the hand.
      • NIRV: The Lord will bring the strong and powerful king (1) of Assyria against Samaria. (2) The Lord will throw that city down to the ground with great force. It will be like a hailstorm. It will be like a wind that destroys everything. It will be like a driving rain and a flooding storm.
    • Discrepancy: 
      1. Is it a person (NIRV) or natural disaster (KJV) that devastates Ephraim?
      2. Basically says the same thing but with more poetry in the KJV and more clarity from the NIRV.
  • Isaiah 28:6
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.
      • NIRV: He will help those who are fair when they judge. He will give strength to those who turn back their enemies at the city gate.
    • Conclusion: *The NIRV offers clearer phrasing.
  • Isaiah 28:9
    • Comparisons:
      • KJV: (1 omitted)Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
      • NIRV: (1) The Lord's people are making fun of him. They say, "Who does he think he's trying to teach? Who does he think he's explaining his message to? Is it to children who do not need their mother's milk anymore? Is it to those who have just been taken from her breast?
    • Discrepancy: Is God looking for someone to teach knowledge to (KJV) or are God's people making fun of God (NIRV)?


Notes on my process*Denotes my thoughts alone. ! Denotes a connection. Researched quick answers are in italics. *Indicates a topic with more extensive notes under the research heading.
  1. Woe to Ephraim (v. 1-4)
    1. Ephraim! You drink away your beauty.
    2. God will devastate the weather and you will be chastened.
      1. ๐ŸŽตAnd maybe you're a lie that I don't need...Maybe you need reminding you're under my feet.๐ŸŽถ ("Under My Feet" performed by Zach Williams)
      2. "Her son will crush your head. And you will bite his heel." Genesis 3:15 NIRV
    3. You'll be quickly devoured.
      1. Is there underlying meaning to this verse?
  2. But God will crown His remnant, judge the people and strengthen His warriors. (v. 5-6)
    1. *The reversal of roles here seems to indicate that God takes the place of Ephraim's pride. Where Ephraim originally wore the crown, now it's rightfully on God's head.
    2. ? What is the meaning of turning the battle to the gates? Does it reference the kingdom gates? 
  3. But We (v. 7-9)
    1. Remain drunk and unreliable.
    2. Have corrupted every place.
  4. Yet God Still Pursues (v. 10-13)
    1. He looks for those who are ready to learn, slowly but surely, piece by piece.
      1. ! The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
      2. ! The words I spoke to you were like milk, not like solid food. You weren't ready for solid food yet. And you still aren't ready for it. I Corinthians 3:2
    2. It will be difficult for them to understand.
      1. Here is why I [Jesus] use stories when I speak to the people, I say, 'They look, but they don't really see. They listen, but they don't really hear or understand.' In them the words of the prophet Isaiah come true. He said, "You will hear but never understand. You will see but never know what you are seeing. The hearts of these people have become stubborn. They can barely hear with their ears. They have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes. They might hear with their ears. They might understand with their hearts. They might turn to the Lord, and then he would heal them." (Matthew 13:13-15 referencing Isaiah 6:9-10)
    3. Even though He plainly shows them the way to peace, they do not hear.
    4. To them, His word is scattered and confusing, which leads them in the wrong direction.
      1. ? Might this be describing people who take what they want from scripture to support their viewpoints and ignore the rest?
  5. CAUTION! (v. 14-15)
    1. Listen! Stop hating God's word.
    2. You think that you are safe under your bed of lies, having struck deals with darkness.
      1. ? Does the "overflowing scourge" represent judgment?
  6. Solution (v. 16-20)
    1. But Rock Solid Truth stands only in Zion and those who believe in Him won't readily agree with your lies.
    2. God will reveal the truth and your sin will be exposed.
      1. ? What does lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet mean? Is it a measurement technique that proves how far we've strayed?
    3. Your dealings with darkness won't protect you.
    4. As you experience turmoil, you will struggle to understand why your plan failed.
      1. ! People trusted in Cush to help them. They bragged about what Egypt could do for them. But they will lose heart and be put to shame. At that time the people who live on the coast of Philistia will speak up. They will say, 'See what has happened to those we depended on! We ran to them for help. We wanted them to save us from the king of Assyria. Now how can we escape?' Isaiah 20:5-6
      2. ! In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of hte house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel in truth. Isaiah 10:20
    5. You won't find consolation or comfort though you try.
  7.  God Knows How to Produce Results (v. 21-29)
    1. God will act, just as He's acted before, carrying out the unimaginable.
      1. ? What happened on Mount Perazim? In the Valley of Gibeon?
      2. ! His "strange work" reminds me of "the mystery" Paul references: "I'm talking about the mystery God showed me. I have already written a little about it." Ephesians 3:3
    2. Don't take this warning lightly: devastation will cover the earth.
      1. * Mocking, which Isaiah here warns us against, imprisons us. It shows we're uncomfortable and keeps us from opening our minds to the truth.
    3. Stop and listen.
    4. A keeper of a garden labors all day to prepare the ground for planting. Then he plants each seed precisely where it must go to maximize production. 
      1. ? This verse is asked as a question. I'm not sure if a plowman does take all day to sow, but I'm guessing yes?
      2. ? Is there any significance to the plants mentioned? Is it symbolic of the different needs each of us has and how God attends to each of us according to our needs? ๐ŸŽตWe're all just seeds, in God's hands. We start the same, but where we land is sometimes fertile soil, and sometimes sand.๐ŸŽถ ("Seeds" performed by Kathy Mattea
    5. It is God, the ultimate keeper, who taught man this.
    6. The farmer then processes each plant's harvest differently for use.
      1. * We each must be processed differently.
      2. ? What are the differences between the types of processing here discussed: threshing, cartwheel, staff, rod, and bruising?
    7. God also taught man this. Because, God's counsel is perfect.
      1. His resume is us: His vineyard which He constantly waters and keeps diligently. With discretion, He positions us to flourish and uniquely refines us so our yield serves His kingdom abundantly. 


*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.
Is there a lesson to be learned in the type of plants mentioned and the way they are processed? (Isaiah 28:24-29)


  • Jeremiah 4:3 KJV: For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
  • Hosea 10:11-12 NIRV: Ephraim was like a well-trained young cow. It loved to thresh grain. So I will put a yoke on its pretty neck. I will make Ephraim do hard work. Judah also must plow. So all the people of Jacob must break up the ground. Your hearts are as hard as a field that has not been plowed. If you change your ways, you will produce good crops. So plant the seeds of doing what is right. Then you will harvest the fruit of your faithful love. It is time to seek the Lord. When you do, he will come and shower his blessings on you.
  • The allusion to plowing gives the Israelites hope - plowing is only a part of the process. Through these tough times, a better harvest will result. (Ellicott and Barnes)


  • Fitches or fennel. Microscopic seeds that must be scattered. (Ellicott)
  • Cumin is also small and sown similarly to fennel, yet technically different - as the verse indicates. (Ellicott)
  • Wheat and barley are both dropped in. Wheat and barley are important because it is the mainstay of their diet. The barley crop being excellent. (Ellicott and Barnes) Both harvests are used in end time prophecy (from Hearing the Truth of God  and Jesus Plus Nothing, based on Revelation 14:14-20):
    • The Barley Harvest will happen first and is the rapture of overcomers. The ones who believe in and serve Jesus now. (*Connects with the barley crop described as excellent)
    • The Wheat Harvest happens second and is for believers who aren't yet completely sanctified. Refinement is still required. (*Connects with the wheat crop described as important.)
    • The Grape Harvest is third and for unbelievers who require even more wrath and judgement before refinement.
  • Rie / Vetches / Spelt - hedged in the field. (EllicottJob 1:10 KJV: Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
  • Soil type is also a consideration for planting. (Barnes)


  • Cummin and fennel were tapped or beat with a rod or staff as specified in this verse: cummin with a rod and fennel with a staff. The idea being that the "little" or "poor and meek" ones of the earth God deals with more gently than the strong. (Ellicott*Which reminds me of parents disciplining children: fair, but not equal. The level of punishment matches the need to correct the wrong.
  • Threshing would not be used on cummin and fennel because it is a process to loosens the grain from the straw. Threshing  is often discussed in regards to tribulation:
    • Micah 4:13 KJV: Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.
    • Habakkuk 3:12 KJV: Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
  • Bread corn represents Israel because it is the "chief crop". It requires severe chastisement which will preserve, but not destroy, the grain. The process separates the worthless from the precious. (Ellicott)
    • The message Isaiah conveys is that the threshing process is just for a time and serves a specific purpose.
    • The four common threshing methods are all mentioned in this verse: sledging with rollers and pieces of iron or stone; a cart with serrated wheels; a flail; or a cattle and horses. (Watch "How Ancient Farmers Worked the Fields" by Corie Bobechko at YouTube  for a description of the four methods.) The implication is that God varies the way He chastises us. (Barnes)
  • Psalm 103:9 NIRV: He won't keep bringing charges against us. He won't stay angry with us forever.
*Conclusions: God determines and carries out what each of us need to maximize our harvest, or unleash our true kingdom potential. He considers every detail, from where and when we are planted to how He processes our production.


You fool yourselves with pride, intoxication, and dealings in darkness. Only God is truth. He will harvest righteousness.


I chose to memorize Isaiah 28:16.
Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 

This is Jesus! ๐ŸŽตChrist is my firm foundation. The Rock on which I stand. When everything around me is shaking, I've never been more glad that I put my faith in Jesus 'Cause He's never let me down.๐ŸŽถ("Firm Foundation (He Won't)" performed by Cody Carnes)

Cross References

*Thoughts that are mine alone are marked with an asterisk and italicized.

Of Isaiah 28:16.

Therefore, thus saith the Lord God,...

...I lay in Zion for a foundation...

  • Romans 9:33 NIRV: It is written, "Look! In Zion I am laying a stone that causes people to trip. It is a rock that makes them fall. The one who believes in him will never be put to shame." (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16)
  • Genesis 49:10, 24 KJV: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be...But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
  • Isaiah 14:32 KJV: What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord has founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.
...a stone,...

  • Luke 19:39-40 KJV: And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
  •  Isaiah 8:14 NIRV: Then the Lord will be a holy place of safety for you. But that's not true for many people in Israel and Judah. He will be a stone that causes them to trip. He will be a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
  • Used to communicate with God as a sign of a covenant (Genesis 31:44-46) by offering sacrifice on stone altars (Exodus 20:25) or by reading the priest's ephod (Exodus 28). Used as punishment, stubbornness (Exodus 15:4-5Leviticus 24:23; Job 14:24).

... a tried stone,...

  • Matthew 4:1-11 Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness for forty days and nights.
  • Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
  • Luke 23 Jesus is tried by man. And evil prevails even though Pilate found no fault in him.
...a precious corner stone,...

  • The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (Psalm 118:22Matthew 21:42Mark 12:10Luke 20:17Acts 4:11)
  • I Peter 2:4-5 NIRV: Christ is the living Stone. People did not accept him, but God chose him. God places the highest value on him. You also are like living stones. As you come to Christ, you are being built into a house for worship. There you will be holy priests. You will offer spiritual sacrifices. God will accept them because of what Jesus Christ has done.
  • Ephesians 2:19-22 NIRV: So you are no longer outsiders and strangers. You are citizens together with God's people. You are also members of God's family. You are a building that is build on the apostles and prophets. They are the foundation. Christ Jesus himself is the most important stone in the building. The whole building is held together by him. It rises to become a holy temple because it belongs to the Lord. And because you belong to him, you too are being built together. You are being made into a house where God lives through his Spirit.
...a sure foundation:...

  •  Matthew 7:24-25 KJV: Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
  • Isaiah 22:23 KJV: And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house.
  • I Corinthians 3:11 NIRV: No one can lay any other foundation than what has already been laid. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

he that believeth shall not make haste. 

  •  John 3:16-17 KJV: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
  • Isaiah 30:18 KJV: And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.
  • Habakkuk 2:3-4 KJV: For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

*Conclusions: Jesus was more than likely a stone mason because buildings at that time were built nearly entirely from stone. We tend to think of Him working with wood, but more than likely, He worked with stone. (Brant Hansen ~9:40 & Christian Post) And He continues working with stone, living stones - you and me - of which He is the chief cornerstone. We're built on a sure foundation!


  1. God sees through our charades. At times, I try to block God's hand in my life. I ignore situations by building barriers or allowing anger to overtake me, which is akin to getting drunk. (Isaiah 28:7). I try to solve problems on my own, which is essentially crowning myself with pride. (Isaiah 28:1). I trust in solutions that are contradictory to or completely devoid of God, which is making deals with darkness (Isaiah 28:15).  He sees me stumbling without Him and He either waits patiently for me to turn back to Him or He knocks down all barriers that are keeping me from Him. I can turn to His word for help, pray earnestly, and wait for His answer. I need to accept His answer may not be the answer I expect or want. But I will choose to trust that when I keep the crown on His head, He provides me His spirit of judgement and His strength for the battle. (Isaiah 28:6)
  2. God teaches bit by bit. I want the answers to all my questions, to understand every mystery in the Word, and to accurately predict how God will respond. But, I am not God. He reveals to me what I need to know when I need to know it (Isaiah 28:10). I can meditate on God one revelation at a time and be satisfied by it until He is ready to reveal another. I can practice not being hasty (Isaiah 28:16).
  3. God knows what He is doing. I don't always think He does - especially when I feel attacked or when I see darkness in the world. I can remember He is the I am. Before earth was, He is (John 8:58). Just as He was in the beginning, He is, and always will be (Gloria Patri). His plan will stand. We are, because He is. Because He is good, even though it may not feel like it in the moment, we can trust that goodness will prevail.

In Closing

Father God, You see us. You see us when we hide, You see us as we scheme, You see us as we work to promote our wants and our desires above Your will. You see us, Father, and You love us. You love us enough to draw us out of our hiding spots, our comfort zones, to grow us through trials and tribulations. You love us enough to topple our thrones when we try to build them higher than Yours. You love us enough to shine light on our darkness and break every chain. You love us so much that You lay down the life of Your Son so that we can build on a sure foundation of faith. You love us so much that You keep shaping us, Your living stones, into magnificent works so we can be part of Your kingdom. You love us! Thank you for Your love. Teach us how to abide in it by walking boldly, yet humbly, in Your light.

Learning with You,

Ready for Chapter 29?

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Image Credit: Stone Wall by Billy 11 at Pixabay.



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