Today: [Isaiah 8] Where is Our Trust? In chapter 8 of Isaiah the prophet is told that his children are for signs and wonders. His soon to be born son is given a name that predicts that in spite of the nation’s false trust in foreign powers they shall soon fall. The two houses of Israel trusted in foreign powers to save them from invasion because they saw no other option. The people cried out for treaties to be made rather than looking to the Lord their God for help. Many times when we are in trouble and going through hard times we are tempted to look to man rather than trusting in God. This didn’t work out for the two houses of Israel and it seldom works out for us on an individual level. We must learn to put our trust in God even in hard times lest we make things worse for ourselves than necessary.
[Isa 8:1-22 KJV] 1 Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz. 2 And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. 3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. 4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria. 5 The LORD spake also unto me again, saying, 6 Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;
In chapter 8 of Isaiah we continue from Isaiah’s confrontation of Ahaz. The two houses of Israel are at war and they have each called on the foreign powers of Syria in support of the north and Assyria in support of the southern kingdom to aid them. Isaiah declares that God will defend the line of David and the reign of Ahaz in Jerusalem even though Ahaz is a vile king who has dismantled the temple doors and installed pagan altars and idols in the holy place before the vail. This is because of God’s promise that a king of David’s line shall not fail to sit upon the throne until Shiloh come. King Ahaz does not believe and mocks Isaiah with feigned respect for the name of the Lord. Because of the refusal of either house of Israel to trust in the Lord, Isaiah declares that both house shall be desolate at a time when a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son.
In this chapter the Lord gives Isaiah a prophecy about his son yet to be born by the name of Mahershalalhashbaz. This name is a prophetic declaration that even though the two houses of Israel think they are safe from invasion because they have rejected God and called upon foreign powers nonetheless they shall fall. The boy’s name means “speed to the plunder and hasten to the spoil…” In this context Isaiah declares that before the child will speak his mother’s name that the northern kingdom shall fall to the Assyrians (which comes about exactly because the northern kingdom thought to rebel against Assyria by being confederate with Syria). The northern kingdom has rejected the waters of Shiloah – the humble streams of God’s providence but trusted in Syria they shall fall to their enemies.
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, [even] the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: 8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach [even] to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. 9 Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God [is] with us. 11 For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, 12 Say ye not, A confederacy, to all [them to] whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. 13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.
Because the northern kingdom despised the peaceful streams of the waters of Shiloah the strong rivers of the nation of Assyria will overflow their banks and even surge southward to pillage and conquer the southern kingdom of Judah because they likewise have refused to trust in God but have relied on foreign powers to sustain them. In verse 11 the Lord speaks through Isaiah against the cry of the day among God’s people “a confederacy! A confederacy!” In other words the only wisdom that either the northern kingdom or the southern kingdom could see as an answer to their dilemmas was to make a treaties with Syria and Assyria for the defense of their borders. In the day we live in what lessons can we learn from this for ourselves and the church at large?
We must put our trust in God. When we are under pressure and don’t know what to do the temptation is always there to make a decision out of expediency to relieve ourselves in the midst of a problem? How many times do we dash off a quick prayer and reach to the credit card or a lending agency to solve a problem? We choose solutions to difficulties that we know may not be God’s choice or in fact we know of a certainty we are acting contrary to the mandates of God’s word but we rationalize that there is no other course of action. Rather than waiting upon God we lean to the arm of flesh. As a result as Jeremiah declares this seldom works out to our benefit:
[Jer 17:5 KJV] 5 Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
What are we trusting in? As the two houses of Israel looked to Syria and Assyria to their own destruction we see this in the thinking of the church today. Over the last many decades the church has leaned away from the place of prayer and put their confidence in bringing change through the judiciary or through the political process. As a result the sanctity of marriage and the life of the unborn has gone from being a matter of sacred honor to a mere political football. We made the unquestioned moral issues of marriage and the life of a fetus a matter that we asked a judge to rule on or a politician to vote on and the enemy in delight moved against the church very effectively because the church in its foolishness looked to the government of man to solve a problem that would be have been left to prayer. Prayer in the eyes of too many of God’s people is a euphemism for helplessness. We are not helpless in prayer even as the two houses of Israel in Isaiah chapter 8 where helpless. We must turn again to the rock that bore us.
14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me [are] for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. 19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them. 21 And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and [they shall be] driven to darkness.
In verse 13 of our chapter Isaiah calls on the people to reject the solutions of popular opinion in the nation and to let the Lord be their fear and their dread. When we let the Lord be our fear and our dread then verse 14 states that He will be our sanctuary. A stone of stumbling yes and a rock of offence to both the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom but those who trust in the Lord will be spared. What this predicts is that while God will now punish the two houses of Israel in the north and the south that He will protect and defend individuals in these kingdom who have chosen to go against the tide of popular opinion and put their trust in God. There was no individual in either the north or the south who could hope to see the nation they lived in change or turn back to God but God promises that as He chastens the nation, He will spare those that are faithful in it.
In verse 18 Isaiah declares that his young children are for signs and for wonders set before this disobedience nation. Though the people (v. 19) are rapaciously seeking to hear from the supernatural words of false comfort (from wizards that peep and mutter) Isaiah declares if they are the people of God should they not seek unto their God for help. In other words the people are consulting the dead – looking to those that have gone on to somehow give them hope in this difficult time. This is more than necromancy or seeking out psychics or clairvoyants. The people were looking back to better days proclaiming “oh that king David were alive, or Solomon things would be different…” This happens to us when we are under pressure. It is natural to look back to the good old days and wish things could be as they were. This is a common desire and there are always people who will rise up with the false promise of making life as sweet and simple as it once was. Understand this – there is no going back. For us there is only pressing into the kingdom. If we seek first the kingdom, pressing through all the pressure around us and keep our trust in God things will improve for us regardless of what goes on around us.
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