"Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and join his enemies together; the Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (Isaiah 9:11-12)
The unholy coalitions would be cursed by God. Israel's alliances would not save her in the day of God's wrath. Pekah joined himself to Rezin the Syrian, but in the end, the Syrians would also be against Israel quite possibly in an alliance with the Assyrians. The last phrase appears four times throughout this section. Israel's wickedness had so angered the Lord that His wrath could not be turned away until He had fully dealt with northern Israel.
"For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day. The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." (Isaiah 9:13-16)
In letting the heathen nations invade northern Israel, the Lord was attempting to bring His people back. Outside of God, Israel was completely vulnerable, and the Lord wanted them to realize this; however, their pride would not permit them to see their predicament for what it was.
Rebellion blinds the eyes and fogs the senses. Human pride will go to unimaginable depths in seek of self-justification. Repentance is a much less costly option.
Verse fourteen is describing the completeness of Israel's punishment. The head, tail and everything in between would be taken away in a single day. The second part of the verse restates this fact. The entire branch along with the cattail would be quickly brought to an end.
The elderly man should have been watching out for Israel's welfare. In loving God and others, he should have been setting the example. The aged were also those in positions of authority. They judged the people and gave counsel concerning the country's direction. The spiritual climate of Israel had become so bad that not one of them could be trusted to give righteous advice.
The prophets should have been giving forth the Scriptures. Their revelations were to be guided by none but the Holy Spirit, and any prophet that spoke against the counsel of God was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). Israel's condition had deteriorated to the point where false prophets were praised rather than punished (Jeremiah 5:31). They were not warning the wicked man against the error of his ways but rather encouraging him. Their false dreams and visions did not compliment the commandments of Scripture but instead discouraged personal holiness.
Nothing could be done with such a situation; therefore, the Lord promised to destroy them. The saddest part of all is that they did not perish alone. Those whom they led were also destroyed. The disobedient man always takes someone with him.