Do You Take God at His Word?

Explore the Bible Series

March 19, 2006

 

Background Passage: Isaiah 7:1-12:6

Lesson Passage: Isaiah 7:1-14, 16

 

Introduction: This section, Chapter Seven through Twelve, recounts a period of serious military and political threat from the Syrians.  Isaiah addressed both Israel and Judah, and he encouraged the Lord’s people to trust Jehovah in the hour of trial.  Sadly, the Northern Kingdom allied with the Syrians and, as a result, laid siege to the city of Jerusalem.  Pekah ruled Israel, and he governed the people poorly.  He served as an officer in the army Israel during the reign of King Pekaniah; then, the ambitious soldier participated in the assassination of the king and assumed the throne (II Kings 15:23-26).  His wicked, idolatrous ruled ended when Hoshea conspired against the king.  Like his predecessor, Pekah died at the hands of an assassin. Pekah, in an effort to hold off the powerful Assyrians, joined an alliance with Rezin and the Syrians, against Judah.  Isaiah wrote this portion of his prophecy in the context of this political chaos.

 

Ahaz, king of Judah, did not follow in the godly steps of his father Jotham; instead, he participated in monstrous idolatry and child-sacrifice. This unwise man made disastrous decisions that brought the judgment of the Lord upon his kingdom, and Isaiah pulled no punches in describing the catastrophic consequences of this evil. However, even in the midst of this disastrous situation, God did not forget mercy.

 

The true spiritual condition of a people often manifests itself during times of crisis.  Judah feared the rising power of Tiglath-pilesar, ruler of Assyria.  This ruthless military leader cast a gloomy shadow over the political security of the Lord’s people, and the ruler of Judah was deeply shaken by threat to Judah’s security.  These were, indeed, perilous times.

 

In the midst of this profound difficulty, Isaiah the prophet stepped forward to call Judah and Israel to repentance and preach hope for the remnant of the Lord’s people.  We find, in these chapters, some wonderful messianic promises (See, in particular, 7:10-17; 9:6-7; and 11:1f).  Hope and promise shine from the darkness of the Lord’s judgment and the dismal days of tribulation.

 

 

Background Passage Outline:

 

I.                    The Prophet’s Message to the King of Judah (7:1-25)

A.     The historical background of the passage and the fear of Ahaz and the people of Judah (vv. 1-2)

B.     God’s message to Ahaz concerning the threat of the Syrians (vv. 3-9): God commanded Isaiah to take his son, Shear-Jashub (“A Remnant Shall Return”), and they were to go a specific location (an unknown aqueduct in the vicinity of Jerusalem) and deliver a message to King Ahaz.  The ruler of Judah must not, according to the prophet, fear the threats of Israel and Syria.  These two nations posed no real threat to Judah; instead, they simply served as smoking firebrands that foreshadowed the fiery blast of God’s judgment that would come in the form of the Assyrians.

C.     God’s test of Ahaz (vv. 10-17):  Jehovah detected the unbelief of Ahaz, and put the wicked king to a test.  He offered Ahaz a sign that all these things would come to pass.  Of course, the king refused to heed the Lord’s invitation; therefore, God foretold a great sign to come. (See, in particular, vv. 14-16). 

D.     God will call Egypt and Assyria to devastate Judah (vv. 18-25): God compared these great nations to swarms of insects that would descend on Judah and ravage the land.

 

II.                 Assyria’s Threat to Judah (8:1-22)

A.     Isaiah’s son, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (“Speeding the Spoil, Hurrying to the Plunder”), shall serve as symbol of Assyria’s sack of Judah (vv. 1-4): God told Isaiah to draw near his wife, a prophet in her own right, and they would have a son.  Before the son could speak, God promised, Syria and Israel would fall to the Assyrians.

B.     Like a great river, Assyria will flood over Syria and Israel (vv. 5-10)

 

III.               The Promised Child (9:1-7)

A.     The light of God in the midst of gloom (vv.1-5): Though they will live in the shadow of death, God pledged to remember mercy toward those under his chastening hand.

B.     Four-fold description of the Promised Child (vv. 6-7)

1.      “Wonderful Counselor”: The Child will possess the wisdom of God and will direct his people with infallible knowledge.  His great insight evokes wonder and worship.

2.      “Mighty God”: His might shall rival his wisdom.  He alone is God, and no one can resist his power. 

3.      “Everlasting Father”: This designation reveals the Son as authoritative over his household and tender toward his children.  The term “everlasting” reveals the Son’s essential difference from the fathers of the earth.  His paternal care will know not the boundaries of time and space. Forever, he will love and govern his family.

4.      “The Prince of Peace”: This Royal Son will govern in peace.  He will reconcile his children to the Father and bring peace inexpressible.

 

IV.              The Wickedness and Judgment of Israel (9:8-10:4)

A.     The pride and foolishness of Israel (9:8-12): God had sent warnings to these people, but they failed to discern the Lord’s displeasure.  Foolishly, they believed that they would quickly recover from the chastening of the Lord. In time, the Lord promised he would catch Israel in the vise of Syria and the Philistines.

B.     No one will escape the judgment of the Lord (9:13-17): The Jehovah will destroy Israel’s head (the “honorable” elders), the tail (the false prophets), the leaders (the political leaders), and even the young and the helpless.  All will suffer the wrath of God.

C.     Everything will be destroyed in the day of the Lord (9:18-21): The desperate circumstances, brought by the righteous hand of God, will not spare anyone or anything.

D.     The reason for God’s displeasure (10:1-4):

1.      the injustice of the rulers and judges of Israel (vv. 1-2)

2.      without God, Israel will have no one to whom they may turn for comfort, protection, and guidance (vv. 3-4)

 

 

V.                 God’s Future Judgment on Assyria and the Restoration of Israel (10:5-19)

A.     Assyria will not escape the Lord’s wrath (vv. 5-11): Jehovah promised that Assyria would face his judgment just as the Lord decreed justice toward Israel.  Eventually, the Lord’s people will make spoil of Assyria and trend the idolatrous people under their feet, like muck and mire in the street.

B.     God will use Assyria as an instrument of chastisement, but, in due time, he will save a remnant of his people, and Judah will not fear the Assyrians anymore (vv. 12-23).  Thus, the impetuous Assyrians will serve as nothing more than a chastening scourge for Israel. 

C.     Israel will be restored after the chastisement (vv. 20-34): After God’s day of reckoning, he will restore Israel, and they will return to Jehovah like a son chastened by a loving Father.

 

VI.              The Root of Jesse Will Rule Over God’s People (11:1-12:6)

A.     The character of the “shoot” from the root of Jesse (11:1-5): A shoot shall emerge from the root of Jesse.  David’s royal line may seem destroyed, but God was not through with Jesse’s progeny.  Of course, this passage refers to Christ, and it promises that, in his incarnation, the Son of God will continue to bear all the marks of deity.  The Holy Spirit will rest upon him, and he will possess understanding, wisdom, might, and the fear of the Lord.

B.     The work of the “shoot” from the root of Jesse (11:6-9): He will reorder creation and bring peace to the earth.  As the waters cover the sea, his knowledge shall cover the whole earth. The Gentiles will seek him, and he shall set his banner over the nations of the earth. 

C.     The Messiah will remember the remnant of Israel (vv. 11-16).  Though the judgment of God has scattered Israel among the nations, he will, in Christ, gather them again.  He will strike the nations with judgment and vindicate his remnant.

D.     A doxology of praise (12:1-6): Isaiah closed this section with a glorious hymn of praise to the God of mercy.  Gentile and Jew will know his grace, and all the earth will witness his purpose of mercy.  His anger will be turned away, and he will become the salvation of his people.  His works will evoke praise from his people among all the peoples of the world.  “For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst.”

 

 

Thoughts on the Lesson Passage: Isaiah 7:1-14 and 16

 

1.      (vv. 1-9): God’s pledge of mercy comes to men in the horror and destruction of their sin.  Sin brings great wretchedness. The English Puritan, Joseph Alleine, cataloged the misery that our sinful condition brings. Among Alleine’s observations, these ideas seem particularly applicable to ancient Judah.

(1)   The infinite God is engaged against the sinner.

(2)   The whole creation of God is against the sinner (See 7:23-25)

(3)   The guilt of your sin lies like a mountain upon the sinner.

(4)   Raging lusts miserably enslave the sinner.

(5)   The furnace of eternal vengeance is heated already for the sinner.

(6)   The law discharges all its threats and curses at the sinner.

(7)   The gospel itself binds the sentence of eternal damnation upon the sinner.

2.      (vv. 14-17): Merciful God, in the midst of human sin and despair, meets man with promises of a Savior. This Promised One will send a Son, born of a virgin.  This, however, will be no ordinary child.  He shall be called Immanuel, God with Us.  The fullness of deity will dwell in him, and he will bring goodness and righteousness to the earth. 

3.      Discuss the consequences of sin, and the undeserved mercy of the Lord, brought to us in Christ.