"And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Ye shall defile also the covering of thy graven images of silver, and the ornament of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence." (Isaiah 30:20-22)
For Isaiah's countrymen, this bread and water of affliction represented the oppression of the Assyrians; but the representation need not stop there. The empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were all used to afflict the disbelief of Israel. In rejection of Jesus' authority, Israel cried, "...His blood be on us, and on our children (Matthew 27:25)." Such rejection has brought about the continuation of this divine affliction.
Yet, the text promises a change in the future. Instead of rejecting the true prophets and teachers of God, Israel will acknowledge and appreciate them. The spiritual blindness will be lifted and the eyes and ears of the nation will be opened. The godly teacher who was once in the shamed minority will be exalted to a place of respect. Rather than reject godly counsel when straying from the path, the Jews will accept it. Humility and sincerity will replace pride and dissimulation. In the kingdom, this attitude will exist among the citizens of the world and not just among the Jews. The approach of the end times is bringing with it fewer and fewer genuine believers. Righteous counsel, even among professing believers, is steadily becoming less appreciated. For many, that voice which whispers in the straying ear, "Turn back to God" is more of a burden than a blessing. The advent of the kingdom will change these things. The earth will be full of God's knowledge, and the righteous man will no longer occupy such a scorned position.
The covering refers to the thin plates of precious metals used to overlay the images which were often made of wood. God's work through the Assyrians and Babylonians would serve to purge Israel of her idolatrous ways. This rebuke of idolatry clearly indicates that Hezekiah's reforms had not been accepted by many. Apparently, idolatry was still present; and after Hezekiah's death, Manasseh would lead the people back into the abominations of idolatry and child sacrifice. Josiah's reign would witness the last thrust toward purging the land of idolatry before the Babylonian invasion.