Friday, February 28, 2014

CCXL – Isaiah 7-12

I’ll begin chapter 7 with a bit of backdrop.  Assyria to the northwest was like a dark cloud hovering over Judah, ready to strike at a mere whim.  This particular time was about 735 BC and Ahaz was now Judah’s king.  As we saw in the previous chapter, Isaiah had been commissioned to share the light of God’s words with His rebellious people who were sinking deeper and deeper into idol worship and out-of-control sin, approaching the point of no return.  Isaiah had already announced the inevitable day of judgment which God had foretold through him.  But in this post we will look at the hope that a messianic king would come and save God’s people.

Chapter 7 finds us skipping in time from the last chapter’s description of Isaiah’s commission during Uzziah’s reign to Ahaz’s reign.  Jotham reigned in between Uzziah and Ahaz.  {Confused yet?  Don’t worry about it.  The timing is not important.  Isaiah’s message is the important thing to know.}  There were a lot of politics involved in this situation of nations allying together, but the bottom line was that Syria had enlisted Israel (Ephraim) against Judah because Ahaz refused to join their coalition against the powerful Assyria.  Verse 2 says that the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken which simply means they were frightened of not only Assyria, but now the additional threat coming from Syria and Israel’s combined armies.  God clearly did not want Judah to align itself with Israel and Syria, as He instructed Isaiah to take his son to meet with Ahaz and in verses 8-9 he encourages Ahaz not to worry because God would not allow Judah to be defeated in battle.  Then skip to verse 10 as God tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, just to make certain that Ahaz believes that God will deliver Judah, but Ahaz refuses in verse 11, fearing to test the Lord.  {This response is to Ahaz’s credit.  It showed much spiritual maturity.  We are instructed by Jesus never to test God.}  These following verses show God’s determination to deliver Judah and Ahaz, but let’s be careful we understand why.  The Davidic line was openly threatened by Syria and Israel.  Research makes it clear that Syria had already stated who would sit on the throne in Jerusalem, which was the son of Tabeal.  God could not allow His Davidic covenant to be broken.  God’s intervention was imperative.  {I would be remiss to neglect verses 14-16, as it would point to Christ as the Messiah to the casual reader.  However, taken in context, it indicates that there would be a leader born in the very near future, whose name would be Immanuel (God with us).  In verse 14, the word used for virgin is taken from the Hebrew which means “young girl”.  But there are scholars who insist that this reference is to Jesus himself.}  In the remaining verses in this chapter, there are a number of metaphors used depict Assyria’s character.

Chapter 8

In the first eighteen verses in chapter 8 Isaiah prophesies the Assyrian invasion, and details the prophesies to each individual group, including that group in Judah which had rejected God’s choice of Ahaz to be their king.  Isaiah told them all that in spite of all of the plans, strategies, and military build-ups, Judah would prevail anyway because God was on their side. 

8:19 - 9:7    The Messiah Foretold

Isaiah begins this passage by exposing the foolishness of Judah’s people who seek mediums and spiritualists for guidance when God is available.  Then in the second verse of chapter 9 he foretells the coming of Christ.  I’ve always liked verse 6.  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Verse 7 tells us that His kingdom and his kingship shall have no end.

9:8 – 10:4   Israel’s Captivity Foretold

This passage foretells of Israel's soon-to-be fate and urges Judah to consider it a warning.  As you read these verses try to visualize the actions taking place.  Rather gruesome but necessary as a reality check for Judah.

10:5-34   God’s Judgment on Assyria

God does not allow Assyria to go unpunished for its cruelty to His people of the northern kingdom.  We have already learned that Assyria will soon be taken over by the Babylonians.  But Isaiah goes on to prophesy that a remnant of Israel will return to the original “Promised Land”.  Also included in this passage of prophesies was the foretelling of Judah being spared from the acts of aggression of Assyria, while their cousins in the northern kingdom would be total consumed.

Chapter 11   The Davidic Covenant

Look in the first verse of this chapter and see that Jesse is mentioned.  Jesse is David’s father.  He goes on to emphasize God’s intentions of maintaining a descendant of David on the throne of Jerusalem and extends that to the Christ Himself.  Isaiah goes on in this chapter to describe to the best of his ability the character of Christ and the perfection of His reign, also mentioning that Israel and Judah would be once again united as one nation of God’s people.

Chapter 12    Songs of Praise

This is an extension of chapter 11.  Isaiah is trying to paint a picture worthy of Christ and his reign in chapter 11 which naturally leads to an outburst of praise in chapter 12.

We will continue in Isaiah with chapter 13 in our next post.

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