Monday, August 21, 2017

Isaiah Post 4 - This Will Be a Sign to You (Chapters 7-9)

In my previous post, I wrote about how Isaiah had a magnificent vision and was made ready for his prophetic ministry to the kings of Judah.  He went from unclean to ready to serve in the blink of an eye (or from the burn of a fiery coal).

We now look at chapter 7.  The context is that the northern kingdom of Israel was plotting with Syria to join forces to come against Judah, in order to fight off the Assyrians.  

Ahaz was scared, as were the people.

Isaiah took his son to meet with Ahaz.  The name of Isaiah's son was She'ar Yashub (which means a remnant shall return).  It is important to note the presence of Isaiah’s son here.  We will come back to this.

Isaiah told Ahaz not to be afraid.  Isaiah also told Ahaz that the northern kingdom of Israel would fall within 65 years.

This prophecy was a promise to the entire house of David. The northern kingdom wanted to conquer the southern kingdom of Judah and kill off the line of King David.  But the plan of God cannot be stopped no matter who you align yourself with.

Ahaz had no faith; he was an idolator.  The LORD Himself told Ahaz to ask for a sign, and Ahaz gave lip service to the law and refused to do it in verse 12. However, when God commands a thing, it is probably best to obey Him.

What follows is the famous messianic prophecy in verse 14.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. 

This was not just a sign to Ahaz, but to the entire House of David, because the word you that was used is plural (if there were a Southern American Translation, it would say y'all).  Also, the word for behold is a futuristic word in the Hebrew grammar.

This promise is messianic because of the Davidic covenant given by the LORD to David in 2 Samuel 7.  You can go read the context, but the promise culminates in verse 16: 

 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.

Immanuel means God with us.  The Seed of David will someday come and dwell with man and rule a peaceful kingdom.

So who is or was this Seed of David?  In 70 AD - 40 years after Yeshua - the temple was destroyed, along with all the geneology records. Today there is no way to prove the Davidic lineage of anyone claiming to be the messiah, so He had to come before those records were destroyed. If you read Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3, you can find His whole lineage back to King David through both His mother (Luke) and His adopted father (Matthew).

Today, the Jewish rabbis will argue that the word used in verse 14 for virgin, almah, means a young maiden.  But virginity is assumed.  Almah is used 7 times in the Hebrew scriptures, and it is always an unmarried virgin. It wouldn't be much of a sign - an unmarried woman pregnant. But a virgin pregnancy... now that would be a sign!  THE virgin, which refers back to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

Immanuel will crush the devil’s head. And He began this work when He came the first time, taking on the sin of the world by His death and resurrection.  And He will finish the job when He returns as the mighty Lion of Judah.

Isaiah 7:16 switched gears and spoke to Ahaz about a current child. Isaiah pointed to his boy who was with him, little She'ar Yashub, who was just under bar mitzvah age. Isaiah told Ahaz, before THIS child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good (a reference to his upcoming bar mitzvah, when he would be reckoned as an adult with adult understanding), the land that Azah was dreading would be foresaken.

And indeed, within three years of that time, the alliance between Syria and the northern kingdom was gone.

The remainder of chapter 7 prophesies that Assyria would try to come against Judah but would not succeed. The northern kingdom of Israel would fall to Assyria, but the kingdom of Judah would stand (at least for the time being).

In chapter 8, the prophecy regarding Assyria continues. 

The LORD is again going to use a son of Isaiah as a sign.  Isaiah and his wife conceived another son and named him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, meaning speed the spoil, hasten the booty.  Probably not something you are going to find in a name-your-baby book.

The promise is this:  before Isaiah's second son would even be able to talk, the northern kingdom of Israel will fall.  And shortly afterward, the northern kingdom fell, in 722 BC.

(Later in this chapter, verse 18 to be exact, we are told that Isaiah and his children would be used as signs and wonders in Israel)

Isaiah then warned Judah that Assyria would pass through Judah - up to the neck, which means as far as Jerusalem - and there would be much fear.  But twice Isaiah assured Judah that God is with us – Immanuel! In verse 12 Isaiah warns against worrying about conspiracies.  (That would be great advice for today as well).  And in verse 13, he says, trust in the LORD and fear Him only.  Jerusalem will not fall this time. 

I love verse 14, which introduces the Messiah as our Rock.  He will be both a sanctuary (for those who know Him) and a rock of offense (for those who don't).  

This prophecy is directed to both houses of Israel - the northern AND the southern kingdoms.  At the time of Yeshua, there were remnants of all 12 tribes living in Judea. Many of the faithful had fled the northern kingdom and came south at the time of the Assyrian invasion. Otherwise, how could they stumble over the Messiah if the northern tribes were completely wiped out?

About five years ago (golly, was it that long ago??), I wrote a post about our Messiah the Rock.  You can read it here if you'd like.
The remainder of chapter 8 highlights the doom and darkness that will prevail at that time.

BUT, chapter 9!  (Did I mention yet how the book of Isaiah is FILLED with contrasts?)

The gloom will not remain.  Hallelujah!

Verse 1 sets the stage:  the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – this is talking about ancient trade routes.  Galilee was a major crossroads in the world of business.

The prophecy continues with this lovely promise:

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. 

We know Who grew up in that area and Who did most of His ministry there. But in case there is any doubt, verse 6 gives us a picture of Him:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

In this one verse, we see an occurrance of near/far prophecy.  He would be born (His first coming), and He will govern (His second coming).

And those names!  Three of the terms used in this verse are used only of the LORD.  Wonderful, God, and Everlasting.  The other three words can be used of man.  And the final term is Prince of Peace, which is a reference to the One who will set up His kingdom in Jerusalem someday and rule in SHALOM.

  • Wonderful – pele – wonder, marvel, extraordinary, a hard to understand thing. Only used of God. 
  • Counselor – ya-atz – to counsel, determine, devise, guide, purpose 
  • Mighty God – El gibbor – strong and mighty God 
  • Everlasting Father – ad av – connects Yeshua as God eternal (only God is eternal) 
And finally,
  • Prince of Peace – Sar shalom – chieftain, head of completeness, soundness. Wraps it up. 

These seven terms make a beautiful picture of completeness.

Speaking of light in the darkness...

Verse 7 wraps up this section beautifully with a picture of His reign on earth.

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The abundance of His government and peace, throne of David - the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant -  established with judgment and justice. It WILL happen someday soon!

Isaiah continues in his typical fashion, using a major contrast for the rest of chapter 9.

The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel.
All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria—
Who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones;
The sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”

This prophecy in verses 8-10 against the northern kingdom may sound familiar to some of us who remember 9/11.  We will rebuild!  We will rebuild, and come back even stronger!

But so many of our leaders, who spoke the last phrase of this prophecy over and over again, lifted it out of context!  Or did they?  What a display of human arrogance and self-sufficiency!  The context leaves no doubt - this is a picture of leaders trusting in their own strength and not trusting in the Lord. 

Sadly, the chapter continues with warnings of the coming destruction. Verse 16 says,

For the leaders of this people cause them to err,
And those who are led by them are destroyed.

Will our country heed this warning?  Are we being given a sign, even right now?  The word for sign (Hebrew ot) that is used in Isaiah is also used on the fourth day of creation, when God created the sun, moon, and stars for signs, seasons (appointed times), days, and years.

Here is the crazy thing.  All this talk of light, darkness, and signs...  I am sitting here writing this just as the solar eclipse of 2017 is hitting the west coast of the United States.  By the time I hit the "post" button, there will be literally seven minutes to total eclipse in Salem, Oregon.

I believe that this eclipse, which is ushering in first day of Elul and the 40 days of repentance prior to Yom Kippur, is a call for repentance for our nation.  Oh Lord, that You would send revival to our nation!

Click here for next post.

If you would like to start at the beginning of Isaiah, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! This wins the 2017 Solar Eclipse Blog Award! Well done, my friend. What a glorious word from HaShem and you!