THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
Escape Judgment by Fearing God
Isaiah 8 SCC 3/24/13
A consistent theme of Scripture is the certainty of divine judgment against the sinfulness of man. Judgment will yet fall on the earth and only the devout in the Lord will be spared. This is how it has always been when God has brought judgment against sin of mankind but delivered the faithful. God brought the flood and spared a few. God brought fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah and spared a handful. God brought down the walls of Jericho and spared a family. God brought Babylon against Jerusalem and spared a remnant. God will bring Tribulation judgments but spare his own with a snatching out of it. But count on it—for the sinful there will be judgment and then one final full judgment. But all along the way, God spares the faithful. This is the message to Judah in this chapter.
WHILE JUDGMENT FOR SIN IS CERTAIN GOD PROTECTS THOSE WHO BELIEVE
God’s judgment will be swift 1-4
Verse 1 introduces the theme that judgment will be swift on Syria and the northern state of Israel. The prophet was to take a great tablet and write the message on it for everyone to see. He wanted his message attested--it was prophecy. The Lord wants His message recorded so that all His people can easily understand His message. This is the name of Isaiah's second son, "Maher-shalal-hash-baz" (v 3). It means something like "Spoil--speed, prey--hasten." The name also uses repetition to stress the point: spoil//prey, and speed//hasten. It was a witness to the fact that the people had rejected the prophets' warnings and now only swift judgment lay ahead.
Verse 2 God is looking for two faithful witnesses (Deut. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28) to corroborate His message (i.e., like heaven and earth in 1:2).
Verse 3 then he and his wife had a child and called him by the name Maher-shalal-hash-baz. This is obviously a reference to Isaiah's wife. She was (1) also a prophet or (2) was married to a prophet.
Verse 4 If this prophecy were given in 733 B.C., then the focus of verse 4 would be about 11 or 12 years later, 722, when Sargon took Samaria. Judgment was certain because they had rejected the Lord.
God’s judgment is irresistible 5-8
Verse 5-6 can be called the tale of two rivers, Shiloah and Euphrates. King Ahaz and the people of Judah had rejected God’s faithful provisions for them, symbolized by the gently flowing Shiloah stream that carried water from the Gihon spring just outside Jerusalem into the city. This water source was unimpressive, but it provided for the people of Jerusalem faithfully. Instead they had rejoiced in the anticipated destruction of the kings of Syria (Rezin 7:1) and Ephraim (son of Ramaliah 7:1) due to Ahaz’s alliance with Assyria and the anticipation of Assyria’s destruction of both Syria and Israel.
Verse 7 So because they rebelled against the house of David, God would bring in the judgment, the River Euphrates. This river represents the king of Assyria and his armies, who will "flood" the land including Judah.
Verse 8 The Assyrian tide would not stop at Syria and Israel, however, but would sweep into Judah as well. This invasion happened in 701 B.C. But its waters would stop short of completely engulfing Judah; they would reach only to her neck. Israel would drown, but Judah would keep her head above water. Seen from above, the deepening waters of Assyria’s army filling every valley and rising higher and higher resembled the wings of a huge, ominous bird of prey that covered the whole land. "O Immanuel", the people who’s God was with them would not allow Assyria to devour its prey. We have a reminder that the Lord continued to be with His people and provided salvation for them ultimately in Christ.
God only averts judgment 9-10
Verse 9 The Assyrians may try their hardest to break and to dash in pieces the land of Israel, but their counsel will come to naught, and their declaration shall not stand, for "God is with us". For each action of the invaders there is an opposing plan of God.
Verse 10 Now remember originally God called them to invade because of His people's sin, but after judgment God will again deliver His people so as to accomplish His purposes through them. They could gird themselves for battle if they would, plan their plans, and propose their proposals, but they would fall because God was with His people. Ultimately God’s people would prevail.
ONLY GENUINE FAITH IN THE LORD IS THE MEANS OF ESCAPE
Stumbling over the Lord if there is no fear 11-15
Verse 11-12 begins with the prophet receiving a warning not to take the view that the people took (that this was all a conspiracy and nothing more--it was indeed divine judgment), nor to fear just what they feared.
Verse 13 if Israel were to panic it should not be because of foes, but because of the Lord. Israel was to learn from this that the Lord was not like other tribal gods or friendly spirits, who would protect His people without question. The result of fearing the Lord, among other things, is the avoiding of sin. If the people were to be true worshipers, they would have to sanctify and fear the Lord.
Verse 14 if people rejected the Lord, then He would become these avenues to judgment for them. The metaphors all show that God will bring the people down. His people, Israel ("both the houses of Israel"), will stumble over the stones of the sanctuary. This metaphor is later developed into the rejected cornerstone (the Messiah).
Verse 15 Many of His people, Judah, will fall over a stone or into a trap (i.e., pit) or be caught in a snare and perish. If the Lord is not your salvation, He is your stumbling stone. God has to be believed in before His name becomes real in our experience. Romans 9:32f and 1 Peter 2:8 pick up the use of the metaphor of a rock that cannot be rejected or it will be a stumbling stone.
Fearing the Lord brings hope 16-18
Verse 16 is the second time in the chapter that the Word of the Lord is to have witnesses. "Law" here probably means the clear teaching of the prophet Isaiah. It will be bound up and sealed by his disciples and kept as proof that he predicted the destruction ahead of time (Dt. 18).
Verse 17 tells of the prophet's expectation "I will wait for the Lord." He can only expect the judgment now, for his teachings have been set aside. Those who fear the Lord will wait for His Word to be fulfilled--having done all that they can do to warn others.
Verse 18 is Isaiah's confirmation of the truth of what he has said. He and his sons are signs. Their names mean what his message said and he wrote the name and the message with witnesses ahead of time as proof when it should come. Isaiah can say that he and his sons are proof that judgment was coming.
THERE IS ONLY IMMINENT JUDGMENT FOR THOSE NOT TRUSTING IN THE LORD
There may seem to be other alternatives to rely upon to deliver us from any crisis we face in life. But they will only prove to be false hopes unable to be manipulated to bring that deliverance.
Verse 19 Isaiah is amazed that the people would turn to spiritism in the day of crisis (the example of Saul going to the witch of Endor). The question is powerful: Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To pray to the dead, departed spirits instead of to the living God is utter folly. How ironic it is to consult the dead for information about the living. This is how far things have degenerated. Mostly unbelievers in the land since unbelief, idolatry, and necromancy had been the trajectory for generations.
Verse 20 gives the test. If they do not speak according to the truth of the teaching of Isaiah, the truth of Scripture, they are to be avoided. This is how the people can know whether these "wizards" and "necromancers" tell the truth or not. If they lie, they have no morning-- their counsel was darkness rather than light.
Verse 21 the end of such occult advisers is difficulty, hunger, frustration, distress, darkness, gloom, and anguish. They will look up to their leaders and curse both their king and their God because things did not turn out as they foretold.
Verse 22 They will look down to their fellows and find no help. Frustration meets them wherever they turn.
1. There is no hope or comfort from judgment if you refuse to have faith in the Lord.
Unbelief delves into alternatives for hope apart from faith in the God of the Bible. Attempts are made to find solutions or comfort from palm readers, spiritists, gurus, the occult, or astrology. This fear is wrong--they are afraid of the threats in life, and so they fear spirit powers that may assist them. The truth of Scripture is that if you fear the Lord (=trust and obey Him) you will not have to live in fear of life.
2. For believers is the warning not to live in the fear of your fears.
That would be living like those who are unbelievers—as Israel did. Instead of fearing God they feared their circumstances. Then they valued other worldly means of deliverance like the false views of God of idolatry. There is no escape from God’s judgment by simply changing the way you view his character—he is loving or tolerant or accepting or accommodating.
3. Believers can rejoice in the safety and security that they have in the Lord and hope for final deliverance.
While we can warn others of God’s impending judgment of sin and false trust cannot deliver them, that because God is with us in Christ we have the hope of eternal salvation; There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus Romans 8:1.