The rebuke found in Isaiah 31 will, I trust, provide adequate warning for us to consider our alliances and the places in which we put our confidence. In the New Testament we begin our reading of the great book of Philippians. This book can certainly challenge us as it relates to our attitudes. Don’t forget, as you read these words in Philippians, that Paul is writing while incarcerated in a Roman prison. Let us be joyful today because we have Christ—regardless of our lot in life.
Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt
31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
or consult the Lord!
2 And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
he does not call back his words,
but will arise against the house of the evildoers
and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
3 The Egyptians are man, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
and they will all perish together.
4 For thus the Lord said to me,
“As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey,
and when a band of shepherds is called out against him
he is not terrified by their shouting
or daunted at their noise,
so the Lord of hosts will come down
to fight  on Mount Zion and on its hill.
5 Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts
will protect Jerusalem;
he will protect and deliver it;
he will spare and rescue it.”
6 Turn to him from whom people  have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. 7 For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.
8 “And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man;
and a sword, not of man, shall devour him;
and he shall flee from the sword,
and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
9 His rock shall pass away in terror,
and his officers desert the standard in panic,”
declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion,
and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.
A King Will Reign in Righteousness
32:1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness,
and princes will rule in justice.
2 Each will be like a hiding place from the wind,
a shelter from the storm,
like streams of water in a dry place,
like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
3 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will give attention.
4 The heart of the hasty will understand and know,
and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly.
5 The fool will no more be called noble,
nor the scoundrel said to be honorable.
6 For the fool speaks folly,
and his heart is busy with iniquity,
to practice ungodliness,
to utter error concerning the Lord,
to leave the craving of the hungry unsatisfied,
and to deprive the thirsty of drink.
7 As for the scoundrel—his devices are evil;
he plans wicked schemes
to ruin the poor with lying words,
even when the plea of the needy is right.
8 But he who is noble plans noble things,
and on noble things he stands.
Complacent Women Warned of Disaster
9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.
10 In little more than a year
you will shudder, you complacent women;
for the grape harvest fails,
the fruit harvest will not come.
11 Tremble, you women who are at ease,
shudder, you complacent ones;
strip, and make yourselves bare,
and tie sackcloth around your waist.
12 Beat your breasts for the pleasant fields,
for the fruitful vine,
13 for the soil of my people
growing up in thorns and briers,
yes, for all the joyous houses
in the exultant city.
14 For the palace is forsaken,
the populous city deserted;
the hill and the watchtower
will become dens forever,
a joy of wild donkeys,
a pasture of flocks;
15 until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.
16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness abide in the fruitful field.
17 And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust  forever.
18 My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
19 And it will hail when the forest falls down,
and the city will be utterly laid low.
20 Happy are you who sow beside all waters,
who let the feet of the ox and the donkey range free.
O Lord, Be Gracious to Us
33:1 Ah, you destroyer,
who yourself have not been destroyed,
whom none has betrayed!
When you have ceased to destroy,
you will be destroyed;
and when you have finished betraying,
they will betray you.
2 O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
Be our arm every morning,
our salvation in the time of trouble.
3 At the tumultuous noise peoples flee;
when you lift yourself up, nations are scattered,
4 and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers;
as locusts leap, it is leapt upon.
5 The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
6 and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion’s  treasure.
7 Behold, their heroes cry in the streets;
the envoys of peace weep bitterly.
8 The highways lie waste;
the traveler ceases.
Covenants are broken;
cities  are despised;
there is no regard for man.
9 The land mourns and languishes;
Lebanon is confounded and withers away;
Sharon is like a desert,
and Bashan and Carmel shake off their leaves.
10 “Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
“now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted.
11 You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
your breath is a fire that will consume you.
12 And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
13 Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?”
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
who despises the gain of oppressions,
who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,
who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed
and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,
16 he will dwell on the heights;
his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;
his bread will be given him; his water will be sure.
17 Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty;
they will see a land that stretches afar.
18 Your heart will muse on the terror:
“Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed the tribute?
Where is he who counted the towers?”
19 You will see no more the insolent people,
the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
stammering in a tongue that you cannot understand.
20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts!
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent,
whose stakes will never be plucked up,
nor will any of its cords be broken.
21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor majestic ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver;
the Lord is our king; he will save us.
23 Your cords hang loose;
they cannot hold the mast firm in its place
or keep the sail spread out.
Then prey and spoil in abundance will be divided;
even the lame will take the prey.
24 And no inhabitant will say, “I am sick”;
the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.
1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants  of Christ Jesus,
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,  both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The Advance of the Gospel
12 I want you to know, brothers,  that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard  and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word  without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
To Live Is Christ
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy  of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (ESV)
 31:4 The Hebrew words for hosts and to fight sound alike
 31:6 Hebrew they
 32:17 Or security
 33:6 Hebrew his
 33:8 Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll witnesses
 1:1 Or slaves; Greek bondservants
 1:1 Or bishops; Greek episkopoi
 1:1 Or servants, or ministers; Greek diakonoi
 1:7 Or you all have fellowship with me in grace
 1:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 14
 1:13 Greek in the whole praetorium
 1:14 Some manuscripts add of God
 1:27 Greek Only behave as citizens worthy