Thursday, November 5, 2020

Chapter 8 - Christ is the Refuge!

The second part of Isaiah 8 presents the only refuge, the only sanctuary that can save those who are otherwise doomed to His wrath. It begins with Isaiah's preface, calling what follows that which was told him to keep him from going the way of national Israel. Isaiah 8:11 (HCSB) For this is what the LORD said to me with great power, to keep me from going the way of this people:

It should bring great comfort to those who know Christ as king to know He will do what is needed to protect us, even from our own inclinations. That's what this message is.

Isaiah 8:12-13 (HCSB) Do not call everything an alliance these people say is an alliance. Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the LORD of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe.

So often humans do what seems right to them because they want to prosper, to be safe. So they will team up with people who are naturally their enemies; fearing man more than they trust God. Rather than fear man or what terrifies him, we who call on YHWH as Father should rightly fear Him. He is totally separate from the creation. All that is from this earth will betray and crumble. God is - alone - above all and sovereign over all.

Isaiah 8:14-15 (HCSB) He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, He will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many will stumble over these; they will fall and be broken; they will be snared and captured.

YHWH will be a safe have - a sanctuary - but not for the two kingdoms of Israel. It's Jesus being referenced here, for He was a stumbling stone of offense to the Jews of His day. All who do not see Him as the promised One will fall and be broken, caught in a snare and captured - by Satan. All whom the Father chose will find refuge in Christ. No one else can; they will find Him to be offensive and they will stumble and be crushed under the Chief Cornerstone.

Isaiah 8:16 (HCSB) Bind up the testimony. Seal up the instruction among my disciples.

Note this: "Seal up the instruction AMONG my disciples." Progressive revelation - Daniel was told to seal the words (Dan 12:4); Isaiah was told to bind up the testimony but keep it among the disciples of God. In Revelation 5 Jesus begins to open the scroll and make it known to all.

Isaiah 8:17 (HCSB) I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob. I will wait for Him.

The servant of YHWH says he will wait for Him, the Creator and judge of things Who is hiding His face from Jacob (another reference to national Israel). He will make Himself known to those He has called.

Isaiah 8:18-22 (HCSB) Here I am with the children the LORD has given me to be signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of Hosts who dwells on Mount Zion. When they say to you, “Consult the spirits of the dead and the spiritists who chirp and mutter,” shouldn’t a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, there will be no dawn for them. They will wander through the land, dejected and hungry. When they are famished, they will become enraged, and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. They will look toward the earth and see only distress, darkness, and the gloom of affliction, and they will be driven into thick darkness.

Jesus quotes the first part of verse 18 in Heb 2:13. Though it appears Isaiah is still speaking and refers to his children (signs and wonders), Christ Jesus is Immanuel, son of a virgin, given by God the Father, for the deliverance of His people and a sign to them!

Isaiah tells the leaders of Israel and Judah Who the real king is, the LORD of hosts who dwells on Mt. Zion; and he goes on to tell them not to continue following the ways of the pagan nations that have consistently infiltrated their community and culture. All who have not Christ will never be filled by things of this world - it can only bring distress, darkness, and affliction.

Turn to Christ while ye yet have breath! He - ALONE - is a refuge from the certain wrath of God that will eternally consume those who are NOT in His Book of Life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Chapter 8 - The Assyrians are Coming!

Chapter 8 of Isaiah is easily seen as two parts. The first part builds on the prophesied judgment on national Israel by YHWH's use of Assyria. He speaks to Isaiah: Isaiah 8:1-2 (HCSB) Then the LORD said to me, “Take a large piece of parchment and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. I have appointed trustworthy witnesses—Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah.” The phrase "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" means "speeding to the plunder, hurrying to the spoil." That is the message to be proclaimed to national Israel. Assyria will hurry to spoil Israel, they will make speed to plunder that land.

Isaiah 8:3-4 (HCSB) I was then intimate with the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. The LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, for before the boy knows how to call out father or mother, the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried off to the king of Assyria.” Does this not remind of Hosea, who was told to take a woman as his wife and she gave birth to children with names that foretold what Jesus said in Matthew 21:43 " the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and it shall be given to a nation that produces the fruits of it." Isaiah's child had the name which was the same as the message of doom to national Israel; a precursor to the kingdom being taken from them by God.

Verses 5 - 8 are YHWH speaking judgment on Israel in colorful word pictures, flowing waters that were meant to fertilize were rejected so God brings judgment with rushing waters, which are identified as the king of Assyria. His exploitation of Israel overflow the banks - it will be total. The flood will overwhelm both north and south kingdoms, with Judah being identified in verse 8 as the one to be ruined. The end of verse 8 calls Judah "Immanuel" - for it was from that land that the promised One would come.

Verse 9 brings a change in tone - as YHWH pronounces doom on those who attack Judah: Isaiah 8:9-10 (HCSB) Band together, peoples, and be broken; pay attention, all you distant lands; prepare for war, and be broken; prepare for war, and be broken. Devise a plan; it will fail. Make a prediction; it will not happen. For God is with us.

The kings of Assyria and the northern kingdom of Israel would band together and be broken - three times, showing completeness. They will plan and prepare and predict their overthrow of Judah, the land called Immanuel, but they will not be able to succeed for YHWH tells His people "God is with us" - Immanuel!

Just as sure as the seed of the woman would crush the head of the seed of the serpent, so that seed would be born as a human in Judah and He would be Immanuel - God with us! This is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Chapter 7 - He is coming!

The second part of chapter 7 of Isaiah brings more bad news for national Israel. Last time we saw that YHWH had told Ahaz he would fall if he was not firm in his faith. Like Peter sinking into the waves when took his focus off Christ and fixed his eyes on the storm; he was not firm in his faith. So Ahaz, with disastrous results.

Our passage opens with God speaking to Ahaz. Isaiah 7:10-11 (HCSB) Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz: “Ask for a sign from the LORD your God—from the depths of Sheol to the heights of heaven.” Ahaz put on false humility: Isaiah 7:12 (HCSB) But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not test the LORD.”  Note this: obedience to what God has commanded does NOT put God to the test; it puts man to the test.  The Creator is not pleased with this creature's attitude. His prophet replies.

Isaiah 7:13 (HCSB) Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God?" God's patience was tried by the creature's disobedience. By addressing Ahaz by his covenant identity, YHWH is reminding him that he (and the house of David) have been blessed by God unlike any other nation; and now he is rebelling against the One Who has been their provision.

Isaiah 7:14-17 (HCSB) Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey. For before the boy knows to reject what is bad and choose what is good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned. The LORD will bring on you, your people, and the house of your father, such a time as has never been since Ephraim separated from Judah—the king of Assyria is coming.”

This well-known prophecy, "a virgin will conceive and her son will be named Immanuel - God with us!" is couched in the middle of bad news for national Israel. We see this son will learn obedience (Heb 5:8) and will be poor (eating butter - or sour milk - and honey was a sign of poverty). While He is growing into manhood (we speak of His human nature) both north and south Israel will be destitute - YHWH will send Assyria to punish them for continued disobedience. Rome would rule Israel by the time Jesus walked its streets.

The closing passage on this chapter talks about the judgment that will come on national Israel, using the phrase, "On that day," four times in announcing bad news.

Isaiah 7:18-19 (HCSB) On that day the LORD will whistle to the fly that is at the farthest streams of the Nile and to the bee that is in the land of Assyria. All of them will come and settle in the steep ravines, in the clefts of the rocks, in all the thornbushes, and in all the water holes.

The Creator is sovereign over all creation - even bugs. He sent flies and bees to swarm over the entire kingdom that had been given to the people He had created.

Isaiah 7:20 (HCSB) On that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave the head, the hair on the legs, and to remove the beard as well.

To be shaved clean was a mark of shame in that day. YHWH sends Assyria to bring shame to national Israel.

Isaiah 7:21-22 (HCSB) On that day a man will raise a young cow and two sheep, and from the abundant milk they give he will eat butter, for every survivor in the land will eat butter and honey.

National Israel will be thrown into poverty; those who survive will have sour milk and honey; hallmarks of lack rather than abundance.

Isaiah 7:23-25 (HCSB) And on that day every place where there were 1,000 vines, worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become thorns and briers. A man will go there with bow and arrows because the whole land will be thorns and briers. You will not go to all the hills that were once tilled with a hoe, for fear of the thorns and briers. Those hills will be places for oxen to graze and for sheep to trample.

On that day, what was once bright and valuable will be as weeds and goat heads. Hunters will find nothing, farmers' work will yield nothing. Oxen will graze there and sheep will trample everything. The lost sheep of Israel, waiting for their Shepherd.

There is One Shepherd, one sheepfold. The everlasting kingdom is not your country, it's not of this world. His kingdom is spiritual and will be fulfilled on the new earth when He returns, not to deal with sin but to gather those who eagerly await Him. Are you looking for Him, being faithful with what He's given you? Are you grumbling because you don't have enough stuff? Someone more mighty and awesome than the king of Assyria is coming. Do you know Him? Are you ready?