When the Enemy Comes In Like a Flood

We are living in very turbulent times:

I want to do something that might seem a bit strange here: I want to discuss a well-known passage, while also showing that it may not be the best translation available. So this is a two-part sort of article. I have been meaning to write something on this for a while now, and this may be a good time to do so. Let me explain.

My title above features a passage that all Christians would be familiar with. It is of course Isaiah 59:19. We all know the way the KJV renders this text: “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”

That phrase is a memorable one, and has been uttered by countless Christians, often in prayer. The only problem is it may not be the best rendering of what the text actually says. Without wishing to go into all the various linguistic, grammatical and interpretative reasons here, let me just note that many experts think the KJV translation – and others like it – may not be the most accurate.

As sometimes happens with the KJV – a wonderful translation in so many ways – new understandings or discoveries of the manuscript evidence may lead to different and sometimes better ways to render a text. That is part of what is happening here. Simply consider any number of the newer translations. They all give what may be the preferred rendering of the Hebrew text. For example, see these:

CSB They will fear the name of the Lord in the west and his glory in the east; for he will come like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the Lord.

ESV So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.

HCSB They will fear the name of Yahweh in the west and His glory in the east; for He will come like a rushing stream driven by the wind of the Lord.

TLB Then at last they will reverence and glorify the name of God from west to east. For he will come like a flood tide driven by Jehovah’s breath.

NASB So they will fear the name of the Lord from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the Lord drives.

NIRV People in the west will show respect for the Lord’s name. People in the east will worship him because of his glory. The Lord will come like a rushing river that was held back. His breath will drive it along.

NIV From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along.

NRSV So those in the west shall fear the name of the Lord, and those in the east, his glory; for he will come like a pent-up stream that the wind of the Lord drives on.

RSV So they shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the Lord drives.

As can be seen, it is not the enemy coming in like a flood, but the Lord. Three things at least can be said about this. One, this is NOT a case of a supposed ‘superior’ KJV being ‘attacked,’ ‘undermined,’ ‘distorted,’ or ‘liberalised’ by newer versions. It is just a matter of textual scholars running with possible better understandings of the manuscript evidence. See more on this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/05/07/the-king-james-only-controversy-part-1/

Two, it is good news that it is our Lord who comes in like a flood. That is something we can all take great comfort in. But three, it is still true that the enemy seems to come upon us in fierce and raging ways. That is still a reality, although this particular verse may not be the best source of this truth.

And that third point is what I want to focus on for the rest of this piece. Forgive me, but things will now become a bit personal here. Like many others, I have been struggling over the past few years. Covid and various state responses to it have all taken their toll. So many people have suffered for so many reasons.

The addition of the war in Ukraine has certainly made things worse for many people. Whether or not we are on the verge of WWIII, what is happening there is horrific indeed, and I have already penned a number of articles on the conflict. And one thing I said in yesterday’s article is worth repeating here:

Today many people have lost their jobs. Today many people have found out they have cancer. Today many people are struggling with raging floods in Australia. Today many people are huddling in bomb shelters in Ukraine. Suffering and hardships are ever with us. God can give real comfort and hope now, but Christians also look forward to this day: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4

I must say that my posts about the conflict in Ukraine here and on the social media have not been all smooth sailing. Many folks – including many Christians – have gotten quite upset with me and my viewpoint. Some have really gone full tilt hostile toward me, and/or unfriended me. It really has been intense this past week.

Indeed, one thing is certain: when controversial issues arise and folks have strong opinions about them, Satan will do his very best (or worst) to divide Christians and get them to turn on each other and hate each other. We must not be unaware of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Sure, we can rightly let go of some folks at certain times, but usually we must seek to work very hard on Christian unity where possible.

And last night as I tossed and turned in bed I thought and prayed a lot about suicide – not so much for me in particular. But I was aware of how so many folks are suicidal right now. I have many concerns about the world right at the moment, and various major issues that I am struggling with personally. I am supposed to be a strong mature Christian, but I still get so heavily weighed down.

So I can only imagine how others are coping who may be new or weak Christians, or non-Christians. I have especially noted how Satan is really getting believers to turn on each other of late. It has been some of the worst I have seen as a believer. It seems everywhere I turn recently a new fire has erupted, a new interpersonal war has flared up, and a new set of ugly enemy assaults have been taking place.

The enemy really does seem to be coming in like a flood! Sure, when it comes to hot potato issues, controversy and disagreements will always exist. And all this conflict and friction goes with the territory. It is part of the ministry that I am called to do.

But the need to pray for one another and uphold one another and encourage one another is so very urgent right now. We really need to take seriously what we find in 1 Samuel 12:23: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you.”

The truth is I am feeling totally overwhelmed right now. It seems every time I walk around a corner, or open a website, or hear of a discussion, more attacks and fights and controversies and fierce battles are coming upon me. As I say, so many others would be going through similar things, so I am not alone in this.

It sure does seem like the enemy is coming in like a flood, but we must recall that it is really God who is coming in like a flood.

I guess my bottom line is this: I really could use your prayers right now! Many thanks indeed.

[1471 words]

36 Replies to “When the Enemy Comes In Like a Flood”

  1. Certainly as per Acts 12 when intense intercession was raised for Peter taken because of some religious leaders connection with Herod ..there is a need to pray for you to God of the Angel Armies for The Lord to send a flood of intervention whether an Angel from heaven , but nevertheless divine intervention , to be delivered from the Hand of Herod and the expectations of the religious leaders that were manipulated by the crisis of the times ..famine .we have crises multiple now and incorrect alliances are attacking those that are a voice for the Lord.. praying for you ..trust prayer would become intense intercession..what is required for now

  2. Hi Bill

    I check your website nearly every day to see if there is a new article for me to read. I have been doing so for a number of years now, however have never sent an email. Thank you for being obedient to the call of God on your life. I am sure your ministry encourages (and convicts!) people all over the world. I pray that God will protect you and your family. Also that you will feel God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. Thank you for fighting the good fight.

  3. Praying for you n yours Bill. Thank you for all that you give – I am so new to the harvest…so much waisted time n yet His light is ever present during this long dark night.
    When I want Him to remove the darkness He reminds me that He will never violate our will….. this of course opens up another flood – so I am grateful that He, is in control n not me.

  4. Bill,
    We pray for God’s peace to be with you.
    Let not your heart be troubled nor be afraid.
    His peace He gives to you.

  5. Hang in there Bill. The last 2 years have been extremely tough for me personally also. 2 Corinthians 4 – verses
    8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

    9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

    Praying for you.

  6. Thank you for all you do Bill.

    My understanding is that Isaiah has only ever been confirmed from new discoveries of texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The archaeological discoveries are really a wonderful testimony to how accurately the scriptures have been passed down.

    Yes the Hebrew “sar” can mean a narrow place so a river going through a narrow opening would be like a giant fire hose but it is also often translated as adversary or foe:-

    https://biblehub.com/text/isaiah/59-19.htm

    https://biblehub.com/hebrew/tzar_6862.htm

    In Revelation 12:15 we see the flood coming from the Dragon’s mouth to attack the woman. To me the woman is Zion and this is a reference to the constant antisemitism the Jews have had to suffer including the haulocaust. It is a flood of lies and accusation from the dragon’s mouth. At the end of the chapter the dragon then turns his attention to her offspring which I believe to be the various Christian churches. I believe this is what we are seeing now.

  7. Thank you Lord for your faithful servant and heir, Bill. Thank you for the encouraging, challenging, reassuring and comforting words he has forwarded from you to us for such a long time.
    Please grant him rest, refreshment, peace, a good sleep and all the books his heart would desire.
    Father, I ask this in the name of Jesus.
    John 16:23, 24 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

  8. Thank you for sharing your own struggles, Bill. It’s easy to forget that even life-long Christians who I look to daily for teaching struggle as I do in these dark times. I will pray for you and your family, and share that my own small congregation and myself have been under assault, as well, as Satan would seek to divide the church. You have written nothing about the Ukraine situation that any Christian should attack you for, btw.

    Thank you for being a source of truth each day. May God’s Spirit place your feet on the Rock and hold you fast.

  9. Facebook killed you. There would be more friendly comments if not for that. Easier access. You can acknowledge the historical geopolitical aspects of Russia’s grievances and still condemn them. Some are pulling that neat trick off. Like Rick Joyner. Putin lost me last week when he condemned Israel holding the Golan Heights in the UN. Security for me, but not for thee. Apparently.

    The war you fight probably requires Pentecostal weapons.
    Tongues
    The Blood
    And 24/7 worship. Even the earworm kind in bed.
    Try Bill Gaither’s black gospel for starters and make your own YouTube playlists.

    https://youtu.be/TwSmevLMW1M

  10. I agree with you bill, but sometimes we just got to switch off our social media.
    When I do, (I try to anyways) i dont feel so burdened and worried.
    Not that we should ignore what’s going on, but when you look back 20 to 30 years ago, we were not so swamped with information like we are today.
    Granted there is a lot of evil and deception going on today more than ever, but I have to learn to pick my battles.

  11. Hang in there brother. I see your head shall hold many crowns. Hallelujah!

  12. Hi Bill, I do get to read & digest most of your articles, and I want to encourage you to “keep dishing it out”! The plain truth of the matter is that the enemy is hurt & DISCREDITED, each time you publish! He is going to retaliate, and Scripture informs us that he doesn’t fight fair. He is true to his nature and his character. Bill, you have thousands of supporters, and I continue to be one of them. From all those many years ago when you were one of my passionate lecturers at the Bible College operating out of the old Richmond Temple, you have continued to proclaim Truth through your website to this present day. I for one continue to “eagerly devour” your ‘Difficult Bible Passages’ articles when you get time to research & publish them. For one who is not particularly skilled in exegetical theology, your articles have been a tremendous personal resource. Bill, I want to encourage you to put the call out whenever you need additional Prayer Support. BOTTOM LINE, we can’t afford to lose you. Once again, “keep dishing it out”, Blessings to you and your family, Kel.

  13. Dear Bill, as one of your favorite authors, C S Lewis has said, “Affliction is often that thing which prepares an ordinary person for some sort of an extraordinary destiny.”

    The ‘enemy’ is relentless, but you ARE loved.

    Sincerely,
    Ron Adams

  14. Dear brother Bill, I don’t know what kinds of verbal attacks you sustain daily but I realize that since your gift is words that words can cut deeply. Let my words count then…
    I have rallied many times to your call for Truth… it has given me great courage and has taught me deeper lessons in fighting fear with faith. The lessons I’ve read and learned from you, I’ve passed on to many, many others who you may never meet, but they have likewise been encouraged and even urged to stand up and speak up because of God’s Love and Truth in your words.
    When I prayed for you just now these words came to mind from Malachi 3:
    “You have said,
    ‘It is useless to serve God;
    What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance,
    And that we have walked as mourners
    Before the LORD of hosts?
    So now we call the proud blessed,
    For those who do wickedness are raised up;
    They even tempt God and go free.’ ”
    A Book of Remembrance
    Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another,
    And the LORD listened and heard them;
    So a book of remembrance was written before Him
    For those who fear the LORD
    And who meditate on His name.
    “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts,
    “On the day that I make them My jewels.
    And I will spare them
    As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
    Then you shall again discern
    Between the righteous and the wicked,
    Between one who serves God
    And one who does not serve Him.”

    Take heart. Hold the line. He is coming….
    Maranatha!

  15. Thank you Bill. I read your blog every day and you have been a sane voice in the maelstrom. I was reminded of Jeremiah when he was down the well as I read your post today. A prophet’s job is not an easy one! And that is what you are – a prophetic voice. Just as Jeremiah was released from the well, God will release you for further work and give you the means of going forward. May He bless you richly.
    Tricia

  16. Hello Bill,
    I felt a real burden for you as I read your words. You shared with such a heavy heart and yet the Lord gave you the strength to continue writing. I see such a humble man fighting the good fight of faith no matter what. You are a man after God’s own heart Bill and the body of Christ, the ones who really support you, need your continued input. You have been called for a purpose, and, at such a time as this, so be encouraged brother for the Lord has His hand upon you. God bless and prayers are with you always.
    One last thing re Isaiah 59:19.
    Twenty years ago a Jewish friend revealed to me that the comma is in the wrong place in this verse….
    She said it was originally written “When the enemy comes in,
    like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will
    lift up a standard against him.”
    The comma being after the word IN,
    not after the word FLOOD!
    Bill, you are the first person in all these years that I have heard mention this thought on the verse.
    Every time I hear someone quote this verse from the Bible (no matter which translation), I always cringed!
    So thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  17. Hi Bill, just a short note to say how encouraged I am by you and what you do, I also had a particularly difficult time when all this started, and reading your articles was and is something I look/looked forward to each day, you are a blessing to not only myself but many others, praying for you!

  18. Bill,

    I pray that God will encourage you through his Spirit just as you have been an encouragement for so many. God bless you and keep you…

  19. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your honesty about your struggles.

    I appreciate your courage to speak boldly and am sorry that you’ve been attacked so often and also by fellow Christians. I think that this can be the hardest to take. Certainly, the devil will be smiling as we, Christians turn on each other.

    This verse has given me courage as we see what Moses’ was commended for:

    Hebrews 11: 24-26

    “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”

    Keep strong and continue to be faithful to the call of God on your life.

    We appreciate your work so much.

  20. Dear Brother in Christ,
    This hymn came to my mind as I read your request for prayers.

    When peace like a river attendeth my way
    When sorrows like sea billows roll
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say

    It is well, it is well with my soul
    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
    Let this blest assurance control
    That Christ (yes, He has) has regarded my helpless estate
    And has shed His own blood for my soul

    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought (a thought)
    My sin, not in part, but the whole (every bit, every bit, all of it)
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more (yes)
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul

    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul
    Sing it as well
    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
    Even so, it is well with my soul

    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    ‘Cause of You, Jesus, it is well

    It is well (it is well)
    With my soul (with my soul)
    It is well, it is well with my soul

    May God strengthen you!

  21. Dear Bill
    Thank you for being my daily source of truth. I too felt overwhelmed for you as I read your blog. Please be assured that I together with many of my praying friends will be praying for you and your family every waking moment in Jesus name Amen.

    Sincerely
    Susanne

  22. Bill be blessed and encouraged in the Name of Jesus the soon coming and rightful King.

    I too in recent days have reached out for prayer support. The Lord knew I needed it (in advance of several adverse events a bit over a week ago) and that I should ask brothers to stand with me. Jesus asked his friends to stand with Him in trials and testing. If Jesus calls in support and we are to encourage and build one another up in our most holy faith it is totally Spirit-led.

    Please reach out and encourage Martyn from ACL if you haven’t recently I am sure he would appreciate it. If you can stretch a call to Graham Hood too it couldn’t hurt either.
    Pray for a word for them you can share.

    I have been encouraged by a Teaching Pastor called Robert Pears who is based in the US and is uploading great messages on Youtube. Please listen to this humble teacher exhort the body in this hour. He has many great timely messages.

    I will hold you before the Lord in prayer also. You are standing well.
    I sent your blog message on the Australian Freedom Convoy in Canberra to my brother and father who attended and it nailed the truth home well.

    May the Peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. I have called on this Word and He has proven Him so faithful to it.

    He will be faithful to you.
    He is the Lord and our loving Father.
    His Word stands.

  23. Thanks Bill. When you preach against abortion, the LGBTQ mob, people using the name Jesus as a swear word, the judgement of God – people, even church goers, don’t like it. Have they never read Matt 23? I think the PC mob need to see that sometimes sensitivity is sheer cowardice.
    The last straw is just that. Something so light, that you cannot even share it, lest people think you’re too weak! I think of Eph 6 ‘having done all, still stand’. It is not easy. I am an old pastor, and I want to thank you for the many times you have inspired me. May God continue to use you mightily, through and despite all the batterings.

  24. Like birth pangs the farther along we go the closer together they are and the more intense they are. Something is about to be born. I feel the intensity too. You have my prayers.

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