God will do God’s “alien” work–judgment of God’s own people–but will do it in a manner that is carefully measured so that JudahJudah was the name of Jacob's fourth son and one of the 12 tribes. More is finally saved rather than being “pulverized.”
On Perazim (2 SamuelThe judge who anointed the first two kings of Israel More 5:17-21) and at Gibeon (JoshuaThe successor of Moses, Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan More 10:10) God did what the people hoped and prayed for: fought against the enemies of Judah. But now God will do something unexpected–something “strange” and “alien”–namely, fight against Jerusalem (29:1-3).
In commenting on this verse (28:21), Martin Luther made a sharp distinction between God’s “proper” work of graceGrace is the unmerited gift of God's love and acceptance. In Martin Luther's favorite expression from the Apostle Paul, we are saved by grace through faith, which means that God showers grace upon us even though we do not deserve it. More and God’s “alien” work of judgment. But because God is wise and good, God’s judgment, too, is for our benefit: “But when our flesh is so evil that it cannot be saved by God’s proper work, it is necessary for it to be saved by His alien work”–that is, God must destroy our ungodliness in order that we might be saved (Luther’s Works, vol. 16, pp. 233-234).
In 28:23-29, IsaiahIsaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More uses a parableA parable is a brief story with a setting, an action, and a result. A prominent aspect of Jesus' teaching was telling parables to illustrate something about the kingdom, or reign, of God. More from the wisdomWisdom encompasses the qualities of experience, knowledge, and good judgment. The Old Testament book of Proverbs, which sometimes invokes a Woman as the personification of Wisdom, is a collection of aphorisms and moral teachings. Along with other biblical passages, it teaches, "The fear of the... More tradition to note how carefully God works, even in judgment. God does not destroy wantonly or for its own sake, but like a farmer, only so that the crop might flourish. The farmer does not plow (tear up the earth) continually, but only in order to plant. Like the farmer, God does not thresh to pulverize the grain, but only to free the seeds and grain so that it might provide nourishment. Thus, again, God’s “alien” work of judgment (metaphorically, plowing and threshing) is done in the service of God’s “proper” work of saving (metaphorically, planting and harvesting).