Swift is the Plunder, Speedy is the Prey

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Isaiah 8:1

 A Prophecy for a People Not Unlike Ourselves

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 “Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; and listen, all remote places of the earth. Get ready, yet be shattered.

Get ready, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will fail.

State a proposal, but it will not stand, for God is with us.

For so the LORD spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,

 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ regarding everything that this people call a conspiracy, and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. It is the LORD of armies whom you are to regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. Then He will become a sanctuary. Isaiah 8:9-14

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A People … who are not unlike ourselves

 

Basically, Isaiah was telling these people that this coming King was the only One Who had solutions to the situations in which they found themselves – A people, who are not unlike ourselves.

Let’s set the scene, that is, let’s look at the historical context:

  • After the death of King Solomon, the Hebrews were divided into two kingdoms – the northern kingdom known as Israel and the southern kingdom known as Judah.[1]
  • Uzziah, a godly king, had just died. It was a time of turmoil, and God’s peace was taken from the Hebrews.
  • Ahaz, the new king in Judah, is actually the one this prophecy was spoken to. He was not a good king and Judah was in a mess, physically and spiritually.
  • The Assyrians were threatening to invade and conquer both Judah and Israel.
  • Israel and Syria, being threatened by Assyria, formed a coalition, and asked Judah to also align with them.
  • Yet at the same time, Israel and Syria were conspiring to take over Judah.
  • What would be a good strategy for King Ahaz to pursue for Judah? Should he trust Israel and join their coalition with Syria in order to try to withstand the Assyrian invasion? Should he rather concede to Assyria, join the “big guns”, and have his brothers in Israel as enemies?  Or, as the prophecy advises, should he do nothing and trust God?
  • Ahaz was “between a rock and a hard place”. He decided to join with Assyria, and in 722 B.C. they defeated Israel. But then in 586 B.C., when Babylon defeated Assyria, they also turned-on Judah and defeated them.
  • They had received wise counsel – “trust and obey God”. But because of their sin and lack of faith, God’s people experienced God’s judgment at the hands of the Assyrians, and then the Babylonians.
  • It is important to understand that the purpose of God’s judgment is always and only to bring people into a place of God’s blessing. Any good parent understands that a spoiled child will always squander his blessings and will never be happy. A child must be disciplined in order to be able to appreciate, receive and maintain blessings and happiness.  God raises His children this way.  In fact, this is quite clear in the book of Isaiah: from chapters 1through 39 we read of God’s judgment upon Israel and Judah, as well as, all the other pagan nations, including Assyria and Babylon.  And then in chapters 40 through to 66, the last chapter, we read of God’s blessings on His people.
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11

What can we learn from this piece of history?  What can we learn from their mistakes?  God had provided the wise counsel – the right strategy – but His people didn’t have the faith to go with it.  The same is true for ourselves: We are much more inclined to look to human provision – it is just the “natural” thing to do – it even seems more sensible.  But typically, as in Judah’s case with Assyria, the human provision has a “price tag” and/or a “backlash”.  Proverbs 16:25 says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death.”[2] 

The Lord also spoke through the prophet Jeremiah about Judah’s situation, making three very salient points:

  • “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”[3]
  • “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”[4]
  • “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.”[5]

It’s true, Ahaz was “between a rock and a hard place” – he and Judah were in a mess – physically and spiritually.  But God was on the scene, and He provided wise counsel – the perfect strategy.  Ahaz’s decision to not accept God’s plan was not his first mistake, it was closer to being his last mistake.  What I mean is this: Throughout his life, Ahaz had continually messed up – ignoring God, making the wrong choices, ending up in a hopeless situation – with no way out.  It is right there – at that point – that the prophet Isaiah introduces the names of the coming Messiah.

It’s the same in our lives, when we have continually messed up – ignoring God, making the wrong choices, ending up in the darkness and despair of a hopeless situation – with no way out, God has a Light for those who are “walking in darkness” – for those who are living “in the shadow of death”.  God has a perfect strategy.  God has One who is a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Eternal Father, and a Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

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The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
For a Child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of armies will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] For a history of why and how the Hebrew nation became divided, one can begin reading in I Kings 12 or II Chronicles 10.

[2] New International Version

[3] Jeremiah 17:9-10 New King James Version

[4] Jeremiah 17:5 NKJV

[5] Jeremiah 17:7 NKJV

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 At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

© 2024

W.D. Furioso, Writer ~ Frances Furioso, Editor

At Christ’s Table Ministries ~ ACTpublications ~  https://www.AtChristsTable.org

 ACTpublications may be freely shared, reproduced, and distributed – unaltered, in digital or print formats. Any quotations or excerpts must also be unaltered and referenced with the above information.

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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith