Line Upon Line, Precept Upon Precept


Isaiah 28:9&10 says line upon line precept upon precept” this is not only repeated in the same verse, but also in verse 13, I have always found that when something is repeated that many times it must be important. Could you please explain these verses to me?


The Church has traditionally used this verse as an admonition against taking verses out of context. The idea is that by taking line upon line and precept upon precept, it’s easier to understand what a passage is really trying to teach us. When we fail to do this we can wind up “misquoting” God making His word say something other than what He intended. It’s also used to encourage us to study all of His word, not just our favorite parts.

It’s good advice, but the passage is really God’s sarcastic indictment against Israel’s leaders for turning His word into a list of rules, repeated endlessly to the people as if they were little children, barely able to understand. (In Hebrew the passage reads, “Sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav, like a child’s rhyme.)

Instead of teaching them that He intended for their land to be a place of rest for the weary, the leaders had taught the people to live in fear of breaking His rules. In verse 13 He tells them, in effect, that since they’ve done this to His people, He’s going to bring the Assyrians to do it to them. Shortly thereafter the Assyrians over ran the Northern Kingdom and dispersed the leaders.

So I guess you could say that, however well-intended, the Church broke it’s own rule. We took the passage out of context.