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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Be comforted, part 3, Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz

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ISAIAH 7–12

God Is with Us!
Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts” (8:18).
This statement by the Prophet Isaiah is a key to understanding the meaning of the events and prophecies in this section. In his previous messages, Isaiah focused on the spiritual needs of his people, but in this section he deals with the political situation and the failure of the leaders to trust the Lord. Four symbolic names are involved in Isaiah’s messages, each of them with a very special meaning: Immanuel, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, Shear-jashub, and Isaiah.
1. Immanuel: A message of hope (Isa. 7:1–25)

A promise to King Ahaz (Isa. 7:1–9). These were perilous days for the nation of Judah. Assyria was growing stronger and threatening the smaller nations whose security depended on a very delicate political balance. Syria and Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom) tried to pressure Judah into an alliance against Assyria, but Ahaz refused to join them. Why? Because he had secretly made a treaty with Assyria! (2 Kings 16:5–9) The king was playing “power politics” instead of trusting in the power of God. Syria and Ephraim planned to overthrow Ahaz and put “the son of Tabeel” on the throne, and Ahaz was a frightened man.
The Lord commanded Isaiah to take his son Shear-jashub (“A remnant shall return”) and meet Ahaz as the king was inspecting the city’s water system. Ahaz’s heart had been wavering, and the hearts of his people had been shaking for fear (Isa. 7:2); but Isaiah came with a message of assurance: “Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted” (v. 4). How would Ahaz find this inner peace? By believing God’s promise that Judah’s enemies would be defeated. “If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established” (v. 9, NKJV). Faith in God’s promises is the only way to find peace in the midst of trouble. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (26:3, NKJV).
In God’s eyes, the two threatening kings were nothing but “two smoldering stubs of firewood” (7:4, NIV), who would be off the scene very soon; and they both died two years later. Furthermore, within sixty-five years, Ephraim (Israel, the Northern Kingdom) would be gone forever. Isaiah spoke this prophecy in the year 734 B.C. Assyria defeated Syria in 732 B.C. and invaded Israel in 722 B.C. They deported many of the Jews and assimilated the rest by introducing Gentiles into the land; and by 669 B.C. (sixty-five years later), the nation no longer existed.
A sign to the house of David (Isa. 7:10–16). If Ahaz had believed God’s promise, he would have broken his alliance and called the nation to prayer and praise; but the king continued in his unbelief. Realizing the weakness of the king’s faith, Isaiah offered to give a sign to encourage him; but Ahaz put on a “pious front” and refused his offer. Knowing that he was secretly allied with Assyria, how could Ahaz honestly ask the Lord for a special sign? So, instead of speaking only to the king, Isaiah addressed the whole “house of David” and gave the prophecy concerning “Immanuel.”
Of course, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “God with us” (Matt. 1:18–25; Luke 1:31–35). The virgin birth of Christ is a key doctrine; for if Jesus Christ is not God come in sinless human flesh, then we have no Savior. Jesus had to be born of a virgin, apart from human generation, because He existed before His mother. He was not just born in this world; He came down from heaven into the world (John 3:13; 6:33, 38, 41–42, 50–51, 58). Jesus was sent by the Father and therefore came into the world having a human mother but not a human father (4:34; 5:23–24, 30; 9:4).
However, this “sign” had an immediate significance to Ahaz and the people of Judah. A woman who was then a virgin would get married, conceive, and bear a son whose name would be “Immanuel.” This son would be a reminder that God was with His people and would care for them. It is likely that this virgin was Isaiah’s second wife, his first wife having died after Shear-jashub was born; and that Isaiah’s second son was named both “Immanuel” and “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (8:1–4; note vv. 8 and 10).
Orthodox Jewish boys become “sons of the Law” at the age of twelve. This special son was a reminder that Syria and Ephraim would be out of the picture within the next twelve years. Isaiah delivered this prophecy in 734 B.C. In 732 B.C., Assyria defeated Syria; and in 722 B.C., Assyria invaded the Northern Kingdom. The prophecy was fulfilled.
A warning to Judah (Isa. 7:17–25). Instead of trusting the Lord, Ahaz continued to trust Assyria for help; and Isaiah warned him that Assyria would become Judah’s enemy. The Assyrians would invade Judah and so ravage the land that agriculture would cease and the people would have only dairy products to eat (vv. 15, 21–23). The rich farmland would become wasteland, and the people would be forced to hunt wild beasts in order to get food. It would be a time of great humiliation (v. 20; 2 Sam. 10:4–5) and suffering that could have been avoided had the leaders trusted in the Lord.
2. Maher-shalal-hash-baz: A warning of judgment (Isa. 8:1–22)

Isaiah married the virgin, and the legal documents were duly witnessed and sealed. He even announced that their first child would be a son and his name would be Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “quick to plunder, swift to the spoil.” Since Isaiah’s sons were signs to the nation (8:18), this name was significant. It spoke of future judgment when Assyria would conquer Syria and invade both Israel and Judah, and when Babylon would take Judah into exile. A child would start speaking meaningful sentences about the age of two. In 732 B.C., about two years after Isaiah’s son was born, both Pekah and Rezin were dead (7:1); and Assyria had conquered Syria and begun to invade Israel (2 Kings 15:29). The army was “quick to plunder and swift to take the spoil.”
In the remainder of this chapter, Isaiah used three vivid contrasts to show the rulers of Judah the mistake they were making by trusting Assyria instead of trusting the Lord.
They chose a flood instead of a peaceful river (Isa. 8:5–10). The pro-Assyrian faction in Judah rejoiced when Assyria defeated Syria and when both Pekah and Rezin died. These victories seemed to prove that an alliance with Assyria was the safest course to follow. Instead of trusting the Lord (“the waters of Shiloah, that go softly” in v. 6), they trusted the great river of Assyria. What they did not realize was that this river would become a flood when Assyria would come and destroy Israel and devastate Judah. God offered His people peace, but in unbelief they opted for war. They were walking by sight and not by faith. But Isaiah saw no permanent victory for the invading army. After all, they were entering Immanuel’s land; and God was with His people and would deliver them for His name’s sake. Assyria might plan its strategy, but God would thwart its every move. Sennacherib’s army camped around Jerusalem, certain of victory; but God wiped them out with a single blow (chap. 37).
They chose a snare instead of a sanctuary (Isa. 8:11–15). God warned Isaiah not to follow the majority and support the popular pro-Assyrian party. Even though his stand was looked upon as treason, Isaiah opposed all foreign alliances and urged the people to put their faith in the Lord (7:9; 28:16; 30:15). The Jewish political leaders were asking, “Is it popular? Is it safe?” But the prophet was asking, “Is it right? Is it the will of God?”
When you fear the Lord, you don’t need to fear people or circumstances. Peter referred to this passage when he wrote, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Peter 3:14–15, NIV). Isaiah compared the Lord to a sanctuary, a rock that is a refuge for believers but a snare to those who rebel. The image of Messiah as a rock is found again in 28:16 (and see 1 Peter 2:4–7 and Rom. 9:33). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
They chose darkness instead of light (Isa. 8:16–22). The nation had rejected Isaiah’s message, but that didn’t mean that his ministry was a failure. The true disciples of the Lord received God’s Word and treasured it in their hearts. By faith, the prophet was willing to wait patiently for God’s Word to be fulfilled.
But even if his words fell on deaf ears, Isaiah and his family were themselves a “living prophecy” that the nation could not ignore. Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah is salvation,” and this would remind the people to trust the Lord to deliver them. His older son’s name means “A remnant shall return,” and this was a word of promise when it looked as though the nation was destroyed. A believing remnant did return to Jerusalem from Babylon and they were encouraged by what Isaiah wrote in chapters 40–66. The name of the younger son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, means “quick to plunder, swift to the spoil,” and pointed to the fall of Syria and Ephraim. Verse 18 is quoted in Hebrews 2:13–14 and applied to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In their time of crisis, instead of turning to God for wisdom, the people consulted demons (Isa. 8:19; Deut. 18:10–12); and this only increased their moral and spiritual darkness. The increase of the occult in our own day is evidence that people are deliberately rejecting God’s Word and turning to Satan’s lies. “If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (Isa. 8:20, NIV). Judah’s leaders anxiously looked for the dawning of a new day, but they saw only a deepening darkness. God’s Word is our only dependable light in this world’s darkness (Ps. 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19–21).
3. Shear-jashub: A promise of mercy (Isa. 9:1–11:16)

This name means “A remnant shall return,” and the return of the Jewish remnant to their land is a major theme in these chapters (10:20–22; 11:11–12, 16). When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim), the nation was never restored but became what we know as Samaria. After the Babylonian Captivity (606–586 B.C.), the people of Judah were given another chance to establish themselves in the land; and through them, the Lord brought the Messiah into the world. Had a remnant not returned, God’s plans for redeeming a lost world might have been frustrated. How much depended on that small remnant! God’s mercy to His people is seen in four ministries the Lord performed for them.
The Lord promised them a Redeemer (Isa. 9:1–7). Isaiah continued the theme of light and darkness (8:20–22) by announcing, “There will be no more gloom” (9:1, NIV). The Redeemer will come and bring to the world the dawning of a new day (v. 2; Luke 1:78–79; John 8:12). We know that this prophecy refers to Christ because of the way it is quoted in Matthew 4:13–15. The geographical areas named in Isaiah 9:1 were especially devastated when the Assyrian army moved in, but these areas would be especially honored by the ministry of the Messiah. Jesus was identified with “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matt. 4:15, NIV), and His loving ministry to the people brought light and joy.
But the prophet looked beyond the first coming of Christ to His second coming and the establishing of His righteous kingdom (Isa. 9:3–7). Instead of protecting a small remnant, God would enlarge the nation. Instead of experiencing sorrow, the people would rejoice like reapers after a great harvest, soldiers after a great victory (see Jud. 6–7), or prisoners of war after being released from their yoke of bondage. Of course, some of this occurred when God defeated Assyria and delivered Jerusalem (Isa. 37). But the ultimate fulfillment is still future; all military material will be destroyed (9:5) because the nations will not learn war any more (2:4).
Isaiah 9:6 declares both the humanity (“A Child is born”) and the deity (“A Son is given”) of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prophet then leaps ahead to the Kingdom Age when Messiah will reign in righteousness and justice from David’s throne. God had promised David that his dynasty and throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16); and this is fulfilled literally in Jesus Christ (Luke 1:32–33; Zech. 9:9), who will one day reign from Jerusalem (Isa. 11:1–5; Jer. 23:5–8; 30:8–10). This kingdom is called “the Millennium,” which means “one thousand years.” The phrase is used six times in Revelation 20
If His name is “Wonderful,” then there will be nothing dull about His reign! As Counselor, He has the wisdom to rule justly; and as the Mighty God, He has the power to execute His wise plans. “Everlasting Father” does not suggest that the Son is also the Father, for each Person in the Godhead is distinct. “Father of Eternity” is a better translation. Among the Jews, the word “father” means “originator” or “source.” For example, Satan is the “father [originator] of lies” (John 8:44, NIV). If you want anything eternal, you must get it from Jesus Christ; He is the “Father of eternity.”
The Lord judged Israel for their sins (Isa. 9:8–10:4). This long section describes what will happen to the Northern Kingdom when the Assyrians invade. While Isaiah’s ministry was primarily to the people of Judah, he used Israel as an object lesson to warn the Southern Kingdom that God does not take sin lightly. Judah had sinned greatly, but God in His mercy spared them for David’s sake (37:35; 1 Kings 11:13; 15:4; 2 Chron. 21:7). However, God’s long-suffering would one day end.
The key statement is, “For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (Isa. 9:12, 17, 21; 10:4; and see 5:25). This is the outstretched hand of God’s judgment, not His mercy (65:2; Rom. 10:21). God judged them for their pride in thinking that their present difficulties were temporary and the nation could rebuild itself better than before (Isa. 9:8–12). He also judged them for their hardness of heart in their refusal to repent and return to the Lord (vv. 13–17). God’s loving purpose in chastening is that we yield to Him; but if we harden our hearts, then chastening becomes judgment (Heb. 12:1–11). Israel was being led astray by false prophets and foolish leaders; the nation would not listen to God’s Word. Ephraim’s own wickedness was destroying the nation, the way a fire destroys a forest or a field (Isa. 9:18–19). But the sinners would become fuel for the fire God could kindle! In their greed, the people of the Northern Kingdom were devouring one another (v. 20) and battling one another (v. 21); but they would soon be devoured and defeated by Assyria.
In 10:1–4, Isaiah denounced Ephraim for its injustice, especially toward the poor, the widows, and the orphans. Unjust laws and oppressive decrees robbed these people both of their meager possessions and their God-given rights (Deut. 15:7–8; 24:17–18). The prophet’s three questions in Isaiah 10:3 ought to be pondered by every person who wants to be ready when the Lord comes.
If God cannot bring us to repentance through His Word, then He must lift His hand and chasten us. If we do not submit to His chastening, then He must stretch out His hand and judge us. God is long-suffering, but we dare not tempt Him by our careless or calloused attitude. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
The Lord will judge the enemy (Isa. 10:5–34). “Woe to the Assyrian!” is the way this section begins (see NIV). Though God used Assyria to chasten Judah, He would not permit His “tool” to exalt itself in pride. Assyria was His rod, club, axe, and saw (10:5, 15, 24); but they treated the Jews like mud in the streets (v. 6) and plundered the land like a farmer gathering eggs (v. 14). God’s purpose was to discipline, but the Assyrians were out to destroy (v. 7). They boasted of their conquests (vv. 8–14; see 37:10–13) but did not give glory to God.
Because of their arrogant attitude, God would judge Assyria, for the worker certainly has mastery over His tools! Like a wasting disease and a blazing forest fire, God’s wrath would come to this proud nation and its army. He would cut them down like trees in the forest (10:33–34). In the days of Hezekiah, God wiped out 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers (37:36–37); and the great Assyrian Empire ultimately fell to Babylon in 609 B.C.
In spite of Assyria’s conquest of the Northern Kingdom and its intention to destroy Judah, God would save a remnant so that “the twelve tribes” would not be annihilated (Acts 26:7; James 1:1; Rev. 21:12). “The remnant shall return” (Isa. 10:21) is the translation of the name of Isaiah’s older son, Shear-jashub.
In verses 28–32, Isaiah traces the advance of the Assyrian army as it invaded Judah and marched toward Jerusalem. But God’s word to the people was, “O My people that dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian!” (v. 24) Isaiah gave the same message to King Hezekiah when the Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem in 701 B.C. (37:1–7). God used Assyria to discipline His people, but He would not permit this godless nation to go beyond His purposes. God may use unbelievers to accomplish His will in the lives of His people, but He is always in control. We need never fear the disciplining hand of God, for He always disciplines in love (Heb. 12:1–11).
The Lord will restore His people (Isa. 11:1–16). In contrast to the proud trees that God cuts down (10:33–34) is a tender shoot from a seemingly dead stump. Isaiah looks beyond his people’s trials to the glorious kingdom that will be established when Messiah comes to reign (11:1–9). David’s dynasty was ready to end, but out of his family the Messiah would come (Rom. 1:3; Rev. 5:5). A godly remnant of Jews kept the nation alive so that the Messiah could be born.
His kingdom will involve righteous rule (Isa. 11:1–5) because the Son of God and the Spirit of God will administer its affairs justly. When the Messiah-King speaks the word, it is with power (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15). His kingdom will also mean a restored creation because nature will once again enjoy the harmony it enjoyed before sin entered in (Isa. 11:6–9; Rom. 8:18–25). “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9; see Hab. 2:14).
The nucleus of the kingdom will be a regathered and reunited Jewish nation (Isa. 11:10–16). The “Root” will become a “banner” for the rallying of the people as the Lord reaches out and gathers His people from the nations where they have been exiled (43:5–6). It will be like a “second exodus” as God opens the way for His people to return to their land. In a limited sense, this promise was fulfilled after the Assyrian conquest and when the Jews left Babylonian Captivity; but the ultimate fulfillment will be at the end of the age when Messiah regathers His people (27:12–13; 49:22–23; 56:7–8; Matt. 24:31; Rom. 11:25–29). The centuries-long division between Israel and Judah will come to an end, and even the Gentiles will walk on “the highway” that leads to Jerusalem.
The “highway” is one of Isaiah’s favorite images. Those who obey the Lord have a level and smooth road to walk (Isa. 26:7–8). When God calls His people back to their land, He will prepare the way for them (40:3–4) and lead them safely (42:16). He will remove obstacles so the people can travel easily (49:11; 57:14; 62:10). God’s highway will be called “the Way of Holiness” (35:8).
When Isaiah looked at his people, he saw a sinful nation that would one day walk the “highway of holiness” and enter into a righteous kingdom. He saw a suffering people who would one day enjoy a beautiful and peaceful kingdom. He saw a scattered people who would be regathered and reunited under the kingship of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10); for only when His kingdom comes can there be peace on earth.
4. Isaiah: A song of salvation (Isa. 12:1–6)

Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah is salvation,” and “salvation” is a key theme in this song. “In that day” refers to the day of Israel’s regathering and reunion and the righteous reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish remnant will have come through the time of tribulation on earth (“the time of Jacob’s trouble,” Jer. 30:7), seen their Messiah, repented, and received Him by faith (Zech. 12:10–13:1; 14:4–11). Cleansed and established in their promised kingdom, the nation will praise the Lord and extol Him among the Gentiles.
The refrain in Isaiah 12:2—“The Lord, even Jehovah, is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation”—was sung at the Exodus (Ex. 15:2) and at the rededication of the temple in Ezra’s day (Ps. 118:14). It was sung by the Red Sea after the Jews had been delivered from Egypt by Moses, a prophet. It was sung in Jerusalem when the second temple was dedicated under the leadership of Ezra, a priest. It will be sung again when the Jewish nation accepts Jesus Christ as its King. They will recognize Him as “the Holy One of Israel” and willingly obey His holy law.
This joyful song closes this section of Isaiah in which the prophet has used four significant names to tell the people what God had planned for them. Because of Immanuel, there is a message of hope. Maher-shalal-hash-baz gives a warning of judgment, but his brother Shear-jashub speaks of a promise of mercy. The father’s name, Isaiah, brings a song of rejoicing as the people discover that Jehovah is indeed their salvation.
The Lord will never forsake His people. No matter how difficult the days may be, or how long the nights, for the people of God, the best is yet to come.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be Comforted (S. 30–42). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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