What Does it Mean That the Enemy Comes in Like a Flood?

The Lord is referred to as “the enemy” because Israel had made itself an enemy of God by disobeying His commands. You might think you have enemies in your life, but as believers, the only enemies we have are Satan and sin.

Flood waters coming in over the port

The King James Version renders Isaiah 59:19 as “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.” From the Old Testament, we are told the enemy will “come in like a flood,” but what does this mean? Why does the enemy come in like a flood?

What Are the Roaring Waters of Life?

Isaiah is one of the 17 books of the Old Testament. The Book of Isaiah can be difficult for modern readers to grasp due to the prophecy and descriptive imagery contained within its pages. God does not want us to be discouraged by these difficult passages such as Isaiah 59:19.

Rather, through study and research, we can ascertain the true meaning of why the enemy comes in like a flood. Isaiah wrote this section of Scripture during a time when the people of Israel had separated themselves from the Lord. The Israelites had distanced themselves from God by worshipping idols and participating in sinful practices.

Earlier in Isaiah 59, the prophet wrote, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things” (Isaiah 59:2-3).

Rather than worshipping God, they were worshipping carved images, which God forbids. Due to the Israelites’ disobedience, God was upset with them. The favor God had for His chosen people Israel was quickly diminishing due to their disobedience. Due to their disobedience, the army of Israel was suffering greatly. Israel’s army was being slaughtered because of their sins and God had no other choice but to bring disaster upon Israel.

Even though Israel had sinned greatly against God, He extended mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to His chosen people after a duration of time. This is why God comes in “like a flood” (Isaiah 59:19). The King James Version renders the word “enemy,” however, the New International Version renders the name of “the Lord.”

This can be explained by the fact that the people of Israel had made themselves become enemies of the Lord. This is why the Lord is referred to as “the enemy.” Thus, the “enemy” (the Lord) comes in like a flood to save His people Israel from the destruction inflicted upon them due to their disobedience. God comes in like a flood because He loves them and yearns to show mercy to them again.

What Is the Mighty Hand of God?

God came in like a flood to save His people Israel because He dearly loved them. As previously stated, Israel’s army was under great attack and many Israelites died due to the invasion of the other nations. The Assyrians had taken Israel captive, and the other neighboring nations were looking for ways to capture the heart of Jerusalem.

The Assyrians and surrounding countries were known to be fierce warriors who showed no mercy to their enemies. God knew this; however, God is mightier, stronger, and greater than the Assyrians, the surrounding nations, and everything else in all creation. The Lord had to come in like a flood to bring glory to His Name and bring deliverance for His people Israel.

Even though we may never be involved in a scenario as Isaiah recorded in his lifetime, we have all faced the roaring waters of change, pain, and trials. Even in the midst of our struggles, God continues to sweep in like a flood to bring us comfort, peace, and rest.

God does not promise to take us out of the difficult times as He did with the Israelites; however, He does promise to be with us always.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? (Hebrews 13:5).

The Lord knows our sins and every single act of disobedience, but He still loves us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:8-9).

He does not delight in seeing our downfalls. God wants us to overcome temptation and be victorious through the power of Christ.

God can come in like a flood to save us today, but He normally will not completely fix the situation for us as He did by giving Israel victory in battle. He does promise that He will be with us through it all and He will provide strength if we ask Him.

The Bible tells us to bring all of our worries, concerns, and burdens to Jesus (1 Peter 5:7). He will uphold us and keep us strong with His Mighty Hand. God will always walk with us through the valleys of our lives, and He will give us rest (Psalm 23).

If you feel you are going through a difficult season, rest in the knowledge that God has it under control. He desires for you to talk with Him and place your concerns at His feet. He loves you and cares for you just as He did for Israel.

A Final Word on ‘the Enemy’

In this passage, the Lord is referred to as “the enemy” because Israel had made itself an enemy of God by disobeying His commands. You might think you have enemies in your life, or you have heard of someone mentioning somebody as being their “enemy.” As believers, we only have one enemy, Satan.

The devil is always trying to get us to fall, mess up, and sin against the Lord (1 Peter 5:8). Putting on the full armor of God can help us stand firm when we are under Satan’s attacks (Ephesians 6:10-18). There is no person in your life, whether believer or unbeliever, who is your enemy. You should never view someone as your enemy.

The devil is our only enemy as he wants us to fail in every way and he wants to keep unbelievers blinded to the truth of the gospel. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Rather than becoming prey for Satan, all Christians need to remain firm in the faith, study the Word, and be active in their relationship with Jesus. If you are ever in need of help, God can come forth as a flood in the depths of your heart to give you the peace, rest, and joy you need.

For further reading:

What Does it Mean to 'Love Your Enemies'?

What Is Spiritual Warfare?

How Does Satan Distort Our Thoughts on God’s Truth?

How Do We Know That the Devil Is a Liar?

Why Does Sin Desire to Have Us?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Eric Overton


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Christian Ministry and is currently working toward her Master’s Degree. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is probably embarking on an adventure.