God Is With Us

Isaiah 8:1-22

Have you ever been a good example of a bad example? And had the great blessing of a friend or co-worker who took pleasure in pointing it out to everyone? Pretty soon you get a complex, wanting to hide your face when you see your friend coming, cringing inwardly just waiting for the “if you ever thought about”. You wonder if you’d be better off wearing a label just to get it over and done with. Be thankful God doesn’t use the same methods now that he used with Isaiah and Ezekiel and other Old Testament prophets.

God knows people, how they are wired up, how they learn best. He knows that many are better visual than auditory learners. For that reason God at times required his messengers to perform or become visual object lessons as part of their ministry. At God’s command Ezekiel cut his hair and beard, weighed it, burned some of it, scattered some in the wind (Eze. 5:1-4). Jeremiah bought a pair of linen shorts, wore them without washing them, buried them for a time, then dug them up again (Jer. 13:1-7). Hosea married a prostitute, took her back into his home and heart after she ran away and committed adultery (Hos. 1:2; 3:1-3). Children born to Isaiah and Hosea both named by God, living reminders of how God would deal with his people.

God was determined that his people would have no excuse for missing the divine warning, his call to repentance. God spoke it through the prophets, had the prophets write it and draw it and live it. God also did not intend to exempt his messengers from hardship – they would experience what their countrymen did and in some cases worse. Yet God graciously blended in words of comfort for those who fear him along with a promise of judgment for those who rejected him. God continued his warning of doom for Syria and Israel with specific instructions to Isaiah:

A. do this v.1-10

create a billboard v.1-2

write a message using large letters, have it witnessed, make it public

when promise comes true – faithful (reliable and respected) witnesses vouch that ample warning had been given

name your child

here’s his name v.3

“Speeding to the Plunder, Hurrying to the Spoil”

here’s the meaning v.4

just as there’s feeling of haste in his name – two 2-syllable then two 1-syllable words, so the promised destruction will come quickly. By the time your son learns to say “daddy” and “mommy”, Assyria will dominate both Syria and Israel. The change in world order God declared would occur was already in motion.

here’s the message v.5-10b

Judah, you turned your nose up at the refreshing water God offered and chose Assyria’s guarantee instead. Fine, Assyria will be the flood that inundates the land belonging to Immanuel.

Try to resist, make whatever you like for alliances, draft your little plans, you will be broken in pieces and your plans come to nothing.

be faithful v.10c

God is on the side of those who trust him

it’s Immanuel’s land – see v.8

David had it right – The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psa. 24:1) God has his limits, for bad behavior in general, for disobedience on part of his covenant people

God’s enemies can do damage but they cannot win. Even when it appears they win, still subject to God and his purposes; he will use their sinful acts against them and for his people.

Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is living reminder of God’s promise – 7:14

Just as Isaiah had a son who would typify what God was about during the time if Ahaz, so God would send a Son who would truly be “God with us”, Immanuel.

B. think this v.11-13

belief governs behavior v.11

even the prophet needed strong reminder: be careful of drift, focusing on culture rather than God and his word, being excessively influenced by culture

since you believe differently, act differently

don’t get sucked into your people’s way of thinking v.12

look at circumstances/events from God’s perspective; worldview founded and structured on biblical principles must govern how you view events and circumstances. Your people don’t have that view, don’t think that way.

fear God v.13

What is it to “sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself”? It is,1. To fill our minds with right thoughts concerning Him and 2.To fill our hearts with right feelings towards Him. (Bertram, Homiletic Commentary) This to the exclusion of ALL other objects of worship and devotion.

Believe God is who he says he is, has the attributes he says he does, has revealed his expectations of us, and then act like you believe it.

C. expect this v.14-22

both houses of Israel will reject truth

the one who embodies truth v.14-15

a sanctuary to those who trust, an offense to those who reject

Paul, looking back on Israel’s history, declares that is exactly what they did (Rom. 9:31-33) Peter identifies the stone, the rock as the Lord Jesus – precious to those who believe but offensive to those who are rebelliously disobedient (1 Pet. 2:7-8)

that which declares truth v.16, 20

would not only reject God, would reject his instruction as delivered by the prophet and recorded in his word

the one who lives according to truth

who waits on and hopes in the Lord v.17

expect the same treatment as Immanuel v.18

cannot package Gospel truth so it is still truth AND inoffensive to those hardened to its message. Jesus was perfect package and they killed him; Paul and the apostles likewise, only John lived to old age and even he was exiled for the sake of the Gospel.

truth doesn’t change

God, not the mediums, has the answer v.19

he has forbidden consulting with mediums, the message they have will only deceive; tools of Satan, they are finite beings and not omiscient, not a reliable source of truth

his Word is the ultimate rule of truth v.20a

here’s the real reason

they are spiritually blind v.20b

their experience will harden them v.21

they will die in their sins v.22

do not possess light and reject what little they do see; turn from God because they are enemies, looking elsewhere for help and hope

don’t forget your purpose v.18

“reminders and object lessons …sent from the Lord of hosts”

Isaiah and his family given to Judah as living, breathing examples of what God in his grace will do for those who trust in him

God may not expect us to give weird names to our children but he does expect us to be faithful, to anticipate opposition and ridicule and rejection and persecution for the sake of the gospel. Purpose not to be popular but to be Christ-like, faithfully and consistently pointing people to truth found in God’s word. We do that by how we live, what we say when given opportunity, living object lessons of God’s grace granted to sinners.

When we are following God’s ways, have nothing to fear because “God is with us”. He will take care of us, nothing will come to us that is not part of God’s sovereign plan for our lives. That means we can live, not arrogantly, but confidently; not fearing the future, not fearing what man can do to us, secure knowing that because of Immanuel we have a hope and a future.

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