Isaiah 27-35 follows a pattern we’ve seen before: a condemnation of the people of God, followed by a condemnation of people of the world, followed by a hymn of praise from the redeemed.
Isaiah 30 continues God’s condemnation of Judah begun in chapter 29 and highlights the contrasting nature of God. The Lord is insistent His people listen to Him, trust Him, and be obedient to Him. But they do not. Instead, they rely on their political alliances and turn from the Lord’s instruction, telling their preachers: “Your sermons must be more pleasant, more interesting, more comforting. Stop with all this condemnation of sin and pronouncements of gloom and doom!” (See verses 10-11).
In the Lord’s anger and disappointment, He will bring punishment upon His people, but it is not what He wants to do. “He longs to be gracious and show compassion.” But He can’t, because he is also a God of justice. He cannot reward or bless people who live defiant of (oblivious to) His will.
This is the contrasting nature of God. He is not just a God of grace. He is not just a God of wrath. He is not just a God of compassion. He is not just a God of punishment. He is all these things. But most of all, he is the sovereign Lord who has His way with all nations – even those He uses to discipline His people. Those nations not His have but one destiny: a fire pit ignited by the the breath of God, a stream of burning sulphur.