The Handwringer

Bible Book: Isaiah 
Subject: America; National Sin; Repentence, Need for; Judgment of a Nation

Isaiah 9:8 - 10:4

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition, a “handwringer” is “a person who wrings the hands often as a display of worry or upset.” “Handwringing” involves “Clasping and squeezing of the hands, often in distress. An excessive expression of distress: handwringing by some experts over the state of the economy.”1

Todd Starnes recently shared the following: “I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America,” [Rev. Franklin] Graham wrote in Decision magazine. “I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality.” “We as a nation, are in trouble and only God can fix it, [Graham] said.”2

Is there a secret message for America in our text? No. Not any more than it is for any other nation that rebels against God and refuses to repent. While we might agree with the call to repentance issued in the best-selling book titled, The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America's Future; we must beware of the principles of biblical interpretation it presents, as David James warns in his extremely helpful book titled, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? We must “rightly divid[e] the word of truth”, if we are to be “approved” not “ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15). We must be careful not to read something into the Bible that is not there. This message is titled “The Handwringer” not “The Harbinger”, because there are some who sound the alarm like Chicken Little, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” after an acorn fell on his head. While we need to faithfully sound the alarm we must not become alarmists. Isaiah 9:8-10:4 is a prophetic poem with four stanzas. Each of these stanzas end with the following refrain: “For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4). This passage records God’s anger and action against Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom not the United States of America!

Remember, it was Omri who built Samaria and established it as the capital of the northern kingdom, Israel. 1 Kings 16:21-28 reads, “Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. But the people who followed Omri prevailed over the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri reigned. In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years. Six years he reigned in Tirzah. And he bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver; then he built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, Samaria, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill. Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all who were before him. For he walked in all the ways of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin, provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their idols.  Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and the might that he showed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Omri rested with his fathers and was buried in Samaria. Then Ahab his son reigned in his place.”

Dr. C. Weldon Gaddy explains the following in Geography of the Soul, “More than seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, Assyrians captured the northern kingdom of the Jewish people. As was their custom, the captors transported the captives out of their homeland and resettled them in Assyrian territory. At the same time, the captors placed exiled Jews with people from a variety of different places—Cutha, Ava, Hamath, Sepharvaim.

A few Jewish citizens of the Northern Kingdom escaped the Assyrian displacement and retained their homes. In subsequent years, these people intermarried with the new residents of the area. Racial purity vanished.

Years later, when the Southern Kingdom fell victim to the aggression of the Babylonians, a similar pattern was repeated, with one major exception. The captors transported Jewish residents of the south to Babylon. But these Jewish people remained unquestionably Jewish. They vigorously protected their racial purity.

Once their captivity ended, Jewish families from the south returned home and immediately began to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. . ..

The Samaritans worshipped at a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, which a Jewish general finally destroyed. Samaritans studied their own edition of the Pentateuch.”3

Dr. Robert H. Stein explains, “The mutual hatred of the Jews and the Samaritans is evident in such passages as John 4:9; 8:48. The united kingdom was divided after Solomon’s death due to the foolishness of his son, Rehoboam (1 Kgs 12). The ten northern tribes formed a nation known variously as Israel, Ephraim, or (after the capital city built by Omri) Samaria. In 722 B.C. Samaria fell to the Assyrians, and the leading citizens were exiled and dispersed throughout the Assyrian Empire. Non-Jewish peoples were then brought into Samaria. Intermarriage resulted, and the ‘rebels’ became ‘half-breeds’ in the eyes of the Southern Kingdom of Judea. (Jews comes from the term Judea .) After the Jews returned from exile in Babylon, the Samaritans sought at first to participate in the rebuilding of the temple. When their offer of assistance was rejected, they sought to impede its building (Ezra 4-6; Neh 2-4). The Samaritans later built their own temple on Mount Gerizim, but led by John Hyrcanus the Jews destroyed it in 128 B.C. (cf. John 4:20-21).”4

According to The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, “Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel had formed an alliance to withstand the threat of Assyria (Isa. 7:1-9; 2 Chr.28:5-15). They approached King Ahaz of Judah to join their alliance, knowing that three nations would present a more formidable opposition to the Assyrian war machine. However, King Ahaz refused to join the alliance. As a result, the coalition invaded Judah. This meant that the Northern Kingdom of Israel, along with Syria, was invading the land of their brothers, their fellow Israelites. Instead of turning to the LORD for help against the threatening enemies, Ahaz and his people placed their trust in Syria, relying on them in their hour of crisis. Because of their distrust, their unbelieving hearts, and their wicked lives, God’s hand of judgment was raised against them. He allowed the Assyrians to conquer and exile the people of Judah. But Isaiah the prophet predicted that Assyria would go too far in their savage treatment of the Israelites and other conquered nations. As a result, God would execute His judgment upon the brutal Assyrians.”5

God through Isaiah addresses the Northern Kingdom, Israel, with four indictments.

I. The first indictment involves their insolence.

Isaiah 9:8-12 reads, “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know—Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.’ Therefore the LORD shall set up The adversaries of Rezin against him, And spur his enemies on, The Syrians before and the Philistines behind; And they shall devour Israel with an open mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.” (Emphasis mine)

 Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) points out their “insolent defiance of the justice of God.”6 According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “insolence” means, “the quality or state of being insolent.”7 “Insolent” means “lack of respect for rank or authority.”8

 Instead of repenting they were busy rebuilding, replanting, and recovering from God’s initial act of judgment. Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) writes, “Most of us make the mistake of trying to change our circumstances instead of changing ourselves.”

 Rev. John G. Butler writes, “In pride the Israelites boast of removing the effects of judgment themselves. There is no repentance, no confession but only pride. They will correct their losses themselves—who needs God? is their attitude which is nothing but pride.”9   

II. The second indictment involves their incorrigibility.

Isaiah 9:13-17 reads, “For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, Nor do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel, Palm branch and bulrush in one day. The elder and honorable, he is the head; The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord will have no joy in their young men, Nor have mercy on their fatherless and widows; For everyone is a hypocrite and an evildoer, And every mouth speaks folly. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.” (Emphasis mine)

Rev. Matthew Henry comments on the “incorrigibleness”10 of those in Samaria. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “incorrigible” means “not able to be corrected or changed.”11

Proverbs 28:13-14 reads, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” Proverbs 29:1 reads, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Emphasis mine)

III. The third indictment involves their iniquity.

Isaiah 9:18-21 reads, “For wickedness burns as the fire; It shall devour the briers and thorns, And kindle in the thickets of the forest; They shall mount up like rising smoke. Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts The land is burned up, And the people shall be as fuel for the fire; No man shall spare his brother. And he shall snatch on the right hand And be hungry; He shall devour on the left hand And not be satisfied; Every man shall eat the flesh of his own arm. Manasseh shall devour Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh; Together they shall be against Judah. For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.” (Emphasis mine)

 According to The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible we read, “God’s hand of judgment was raised against Israel because of the flaming and destructive force of their wickedness (vv.18-21). While the nation was certainly suffering from enemies outside its borders, it was also being destroyed from within. The people’s iniquity was feeding upon itself, ever increasing and eating away at the very spirit of the people. Increasing lawlessness and discord were destroying the nation. Like a raging fire engulfing a huge forest, so this wickedness was engulfing the people. As a result, the people would suffer the flaming wrath of God (vv.19-20). God allows them to suffer civil strife and war and to give themselves over to consuming greed and selfishness. The more they engage in immorality and lawlessness the more they would crave illicit sex and lust after the wealth and possessions of this world. For this reason they would be allowed to suffer terrible famine and to undergo conflict within their own borders. One tribe (Manasseh) would feed upon another (Ephraim) through discrimination and constant conflict.

 But despite the rampage of lawlessness and wickedness and the terrible sufferings of civil strife and war, the people would still not repent or turn back to the LORD. Therefore God’s anger toward Israel continued, and His hand stayed raised in judgment.”12

IV. The fourth indictment involves their injustice.

Isaiah 10:1-4 reads, “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless. What will you do in the day of punishment, And in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory? Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners, And they shall fall among the slain.’ For all this His anger is not turned away, But His hand is stretched out still.” (Emphasis mine)

Rev. John G. Butler explains, “The rulers were making laws to perpetrate evil. Many nations do this today. They disguise their evil as a law passed by an accommodating legislature. . . . The evil laws are simply to take money from the helpless. Our land does this by taxes—God calls it robbery [‘rob the fatherless’] instead. Many of our tax laws are aimed at inheritances and other benefits the grieving family and relatives should receive, but the rulers want it.”13 According to The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible, “Note the word woe, which stresses that a special judgment is going to fall upon the leaders who write unfair, unjust laws (vv.1-2). These particular leaders included the politicians, judges, lawyers, and military officers throughout the nation. Instead of serving the people, they were using the law to oppress the people. They were actually depriving the poor, weak, and oppressed of justice. They were even preying upon the widows and fatherless of the nation. Consequently, the day of God’s judgment was inevitable and would soon come upon them (vv.3-4). The leaders naturally claimed that they had the law on their side. Therefore the public was forced to support their rulings even if they disagreed or protested.”14 From the New Bible Commentary, we read the following about “Judgment on injustice”: “Not the raw passions of the earlier paragraphs but the legalized wrongs of government (v 1) make the climax to the series. The haunting question of (v 3) could undermine the exploits of a lifetime, all of them within the laws of the land.”15 From a song to be sung in Judah, the southern kingdom, we read in Isaiah 26:7-11, “The way of the just is uprightness; O Most Upright, You weigh the path of the just. Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O LORD, we have waited for You; The desire of our soul is for Your name And for the remembrance of You. With my soul I have desired You in the night, Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; For when Your judgments are in the earth, The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let grace be shown to the wicked, Yet he will not learn righteousness; In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, And will not behold the majesty of the LORD. LORD, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see. But they will see and be ashamed For their envy of people; Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.”


God’s anger is roused by insolence, incorrigibility, iniquity, and injustice. The IVP Background Commentary: Old Testament reveals, “The three-year siege of Samaria shows that it was heavily fortified, for the Assyrians were unmatched in siege warfare. The city fell in 722-721. Although Shalmanezer III is given credit for the conquest of Samaria in the Bible, his successor Sargon II claimed the very same in the Assyrian annals.”16 Archaeologists discovered the Ebla Tablets record the fall of Samaria.17 2 Kings 17:1-6, 24 reads, “In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.  Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. . . .Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.” 2 Kings 18:9-12 reads, “Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.”

Ravi Zacharias explains, “Only when we as individuals see the evil that is within will we find an answer for the evil that is around us.”18

Hebrews 10:26-31 reads, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” In his well-known sermon preached at Enfield, July 8, 1741, titled, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Rev. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) explains, “It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For ‘who knows the power of God's anger?’”19

David James notes in The Harbinger “there is no mention of Isaiah 9:1-7. . . one of the most important messianic passages in the Bible.”20 Isaiah 9:6-7 reads, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” This is one of the greatest prophesies about Jesus Christ our Lord! David James further notes, “. . . while the Cross at Ground Zero is mentioned, the connection with Jesus and what He did is not. What is not clearly stated is that Jesus died on the cross, shedding His blood for our sins. It was Jesus’ death that secured the forgiveness of sin and it is His resurrection that provides the sure hope of eternal life. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 that Jesus’ resurrection is an essential component of the gospel and in Romans 10:9 that one must believe in His resurrection to be saved. However, there is no mention of the resurrection in The Harbinger.”

Jonathan Cahn describes in The Harbinger what someone must do to be saved: “By receiving . . . by letting go . . . by letting the old life end and a new one begin. By choosing . . . by opening your heart to receive that which is beyond containing—the presence . . . the mercy . . . the forgiveness . . . the cleansing . . . the unending love of God.”21 David James explains, “Neither faith in Christ, nor believing in Christ, nor trusting in Christ for one’s salvation are ever discussed. Someone with no biblical background would not understand what The Prophet means when he speaks of partaking in the infinite sacrifice.22 . . . “Neither is Jesus identified as ‘the Son of God.’”23 John 5:18-30 reads, “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him [Jesus], because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

Commenting on Isaiah 9:8-10:4, Rev. Matthew Henry explains, “Here are terrible threatenings, which are directed primarily against Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes, Ephraim and Samaria, the ruin of which is here foretold, with all the woeful confusions that were the prefaces to that ruin, all which came to pass within a few years after; but they look further, to all the enemies of the throne and kingdom of Christ the Son of David, and read the doom of all the nations that forget God, and will not have Christ to reign over them. . . .

 The Lord sent a word into Jacob, sent it by his servants the prophets. He warns before he wounds. He sent notice what he would do, that they might meet him in the way of his judgments; but they would not take the hint, took no care to turn away his wrath, and so it lighted upon Israel; for no word of God shall fall to the ground. It fell upon them as a storm of rain and hail from on high, which they could not avoid: It has lighted upon them, that is, it is as sure to come as if come already, and all the people shall know by feeling it what they would not know by hearing of it. Those that are willingly ignorant of the wrath of God revealed from heaven against sin and sinners shall be made to know it.”24 The danger is that we can call people to repent and fail to call them to trust the only One who can deliver us from the wrath to come, Jesus Christ the Lord. Without clearly presenting Jesus Christ as the answer for the greatest problem in the United States of America we merely play the role of The Handwringer.

1American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition, “Handwringer/Handwringing” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2011), Accessed: 01/16/16 .

2Todd Starnes, “Franklin Graham: It’s open season on Christians in America” January 11, 2016, Accessed: 01/16/16 .

3C. Weldon Gaddy, Geography of the Soul: Meditations on the Places Jesus Walked (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 95-96. 

4New American Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery Volume 24: Luke, Robert H. Stein (Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2003), 316. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

5The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible, Isaiah (Chattanooga, TN: Alpha-Omega Ministries, Inc., 2005), Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp.

6Matthew Henry, An Exposition of all the Books of the Old Testament; in Five Volumes (London: W. Baynes, 1809), 3:18.  

7Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Insolence” Accessed: 01/16/16 .

8Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Insolent” Accessed: 01/16/16 .

9John G. Butler, Analytical Bible Expositor – Isaiah to Ezekiel. (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 2013), 59. Database © 2013 WORDsearch.

10Henry, Exposition, 3:18.  

11Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Incorrigible” Accessed: 01/16/16 .

12Preacher's, Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp. 

13Butler, Expositor, 62. Database © 2013 WORDsearch. 

14Preacher's, Database © 2013 WORDsearch Corp.

15New Bible Commentary: 21st century edition. eds. D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 640. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

16The IVP Background Commentary: Old Testament, John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 781. 

17J. Warner Wallace, “The Old Testament Has Been Archaeologically Verified”, Jan. 1, 2013. Accessed: 01/16/16 . 

18Ravi Zacharias, “Is Paris Burning?” November 18, 2015, 01/16/16 .

19Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” Sermon Notes (Deuteronomy 32:35).  Accessed: 01/16/16 .

20David James, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? Abridged, Book Review Accessed 01/17/16 .  

21James, Harbinger, 233.

22James, Harbinger, 232. 

23James, Harbinger, 232. 

24Henry, Exposition, 3:18.


Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /   / (251) 626-6210

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