January 18


Isaiah 8-10

We are sailing down the Prophetic Stream today in the book of Isaiah. Last week Isaiah encouraged King Ahaz with a sign that the virgin would conceive and bear a child – a foretelling of the Messiah. Our reading today will cover some more of those famous verses about the coming Messiah…from the perspective of people in Isaiah’s day.

Prayer

God you promise a Savior When things in the known world could not be worse. So there must’ve never been a better time to promise the whole world that the Savior was coming. Come Lord Jesus. Come to us. And may we not be dismayed.

In Jesus name we give thanks. Amen

Commentary

There is trouble in the world.  The northern Kingdom had split from the southern Kingdom of Judah in the 920’s B.C.  Isaiah comes on the scene prophesying as of ca. 740 B.C. or slightly earlier as Assyria is planning its initial attack of Israel.  The sabres of war are rattling and blood is going to flow like they had never seen.  The historical quote “only the dead have seen the end of war” applies here.  All the scheming and planning for war is always done by those who are certain they are going to win.  Otherwise they would not be going to war.  Watch the mess ‘unfold and be told’ today as every army that is talked about in todays passage is going to be decimated.  What a condition!  And come to think, what has changed today?  Into the Bible we continue to sail … !

Isaiah 8

08 – There is prophecy of a remnant that will outlast the wars in chapter 7 along with a baby born that is “God among us”.  However, the baby talked of in chapter eight is named “quick to plunder / swift to the spoil”.  What’s happening is that while Israel; the North (with Damascus’ help) is planning to attack Judah in the south, Assyria is planning and is going to take out Damascus/Syria, Israel plus some of Judah before being stopped.  So Isaiah is writing around 740 B.C.  Israel and Damascus are sharpening their spears between 740-735 B.C.  But Assyria swarms in 734 B.C.  We might read this and wonder how could the northern Kingdom be so oblivious to their coming troubles as they are planning trouble of their own?  Well in Berlin, Germany the world came to play games August 01-16, 1936.  Who knew that Nazis from within Germany were planning to light up the world starting 37 months later and would not stop until Europe/Asia had been terrorized and about 80 million were killed?  War erupts without outside warning.  Isaiah knows what is coming.  Assyria would come in the north end and be no less traumatizing than a flood.  His literative use of the water illustration is genius.  “Sure, go ahead make your plans Israel, plan your attack on Judah – but you will be shattered.”  Isaiah receives and shares a strong word to not follow the ‘wisdom of the day’ as the storm clouds are gathering.  Look to God for answers, not each other, not witches, not the dead, but to God.  Fear, gloom, darkness are the alternatives to following God.

Isaiah 9

09 – Isaiah speaks majestically about a Savior coming.  He speaks that the land of the north has been humbled (a few years before it happened).  He also talks of a day when all this distress (that is coming) is a thing of the past.  There is joy, and plenty and riches, and freedom because a child is born.  The baby is 700+ years into the future.  This baby will be the eternal king.  How can such glorious things be?  They were to hang on to this magnificent prophecy.  It is the stuff of a hundred thousand Christmas Specials, shows, plays, festivals, annually all over the world still; 27-28 centuries later!   And we would love to stay on the topic of this marvelous baby/King/God but trouble is at their doorstep.  A message from God goes to Israel this day; 730s B.C.  Israel is arrogant and thinks they will keep it together but waves and waves of punishment is upon them.  They have been stubborn and plugging their ears to God’s Word for hundreds of years.  There isn’t even an aged person in Israel who remembers their great grand parents talking about a time when “we were walking with God as a nation…”  By now, the initial attack of the Assyrians 734 B.C. seems to have occurred.  Galilee is ransacked and desolate.  Yet Samaria south of them is ebullient that they will rebuild.  They would be invaded viciously in 722 B.C. and cleaned out completely by 721 B.C.  Isaiah warns that the attack will be firey and maniacal.  Nothing will be spared.  Cannibalism would become rampant.  Who would have thought when Israel’s kings instituted paganism two centuries prior that it would lead to this?   The litany against Israel goes into Isaiah 10:4

Isaiah 10

10 – Then in 10:5ff., God notifies Isaiah that when Assyria is done ‘swinging a club’ in Israel (God’s club of punishment upon Israel, lest we forget) that they themselves are in order to be removed from history themselves.  Assyria’s stampede across the world of that time made all other armies of history look like lightweights.  Assyrians were worse than hyenas in the wild.  They loved blood.  Their war tactics were ghoulish.  My husband read about the Assyrians in seminary in the late 1980’s and they were full on worse than a horror show.  The scenarios they relished in are virtually Satanic.  But they were sent in to Israel on a 12-year campaign because God was not getting through to Israel.   Assyria will resume soon and reduce Israel to an ash heap with just a few smoking trees left standing.   But during this Isaiah talks that the day will come when Israel will not look around for answers.  They will look up.  They had been looking to Damascus for answers but that merely became a distraction that allowed a far worse disaster to happen.  The first third of #10 was written before Samaria fell.  Verses 12-34 were written after the northern kingdom was finished.  Assyria would bear down on Jerusalem at this time.  God would not let them finish off Judah, though Assyria threatened it.  They would not take Jerusalem, though the city was terrified.  Isaiah assured that they need not fear Assyria.  God will strike them.  They will not murder nor oppress for much longer.  God understands the anxiety, however.  The cities listed in vv. 28-32 were clustered just north of Jerusalem, so Assyria was close.  But just like we can be 2″ away from a 500 lb. lion at the zoo, the 2″ between us is plexiglass.  It will not allow us to be attacked.  II Kings 19:20-34 is concurrent with what we are reading here.  Read there about God’s protection and know that He protects us too.

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