Isaiah's Second Message to Ahaz - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Isaiah, chapter 8, verse 1:

Isaiah 8

1Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.
2And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
3And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
4For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
5The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
6Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
7Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
8And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
9Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
10Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

May we pause long enough to emphasize that we suggested that that is the English translation of the word Immanuel . We could just as well read the verse: “Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: Immanuel.”

Isaiah 8

11For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
12Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
13Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
16Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
17And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
18Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
19And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
21And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
22And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.

Isaiah 9

1Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
3Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian.
5For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire.
6For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

We are stopping our reading right there, because all that we have read to you constitutes one message which was delivered in the year of Ahaz and recorded in the Book of Immanuel. We have ignored the fact that there is a chapter division between verse 22 of chapter 8 and verse 1 of chapter 9, because as you probably realize there are no chapter divisions in the original text. This one happens to fall at an unhappy place, because ordinarily you would stop your reading with verse 22, and thus miss the last part of the message and the text phrased in its right context.

Review

We want to refresh your mind concerning a few basic facts. We are following the natural outline of the book of Isaiah that is given within the book itself related to the dates which are presented in specific verses to which we have already called your attention.

In the last lesson, we began a discussion of the second section of the book of Isaiah. This second section of the book of Isaiah we said was called the Book of Immanuel because the word Immanuel or the translation of the word or some reference to the fact for which it stands is found in every single chapter of this section beginning with chapter 7 and continuing through chapter 12. Therefore, we have referred to this section as the Book of Immanuel and suggested that it is a book of encouragement because you will recall that Ahaz and his political advisers were gathered together at the source of their water supply, wondering how they could protect themselves against an alliance that had been formed against them. That alliance was composed of Syria and Israel—the ten tribes. Judah, under Ahaz, represented only two tribes.

In all their meandering in thought, it never once occurred to them that they could turn to God. They thought of turning to Assyria; they thought of turning to Egypt; but God sent Isaiah to the upper conduit where they were gathered in the northern part of the city and said to tell them that judgment was coming, but to tell them, “I will not forsake them. I will be with them, but their need is greater than that which is represented by the possibility of an invading army. Their need is a spiritual need.”

Isaiah, you will remember, conveyed this message to Ahaz, but he was not greatly impressed. God said to Isaiah, “You say to Ahaz that I will give him any sign that he wants and do the thing that I have said I will do.” Ahaz, in hypocritical piety because his mind was already made up, said, “I am not interested in asking for a sign from God.”

God said, “I can't give a sign to Ahaz; I will give a sign to the whole house of David.” That sign represented one of those precious Messianic promises of which a number are found in the book of Isaiah. You remember it:

Isaiah 7

14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Because Ahaz and his cohorts did not wish to follow the advice of God, Isaiah said: “There is nothing left but judgment for you, and judgment will surely come.”

Isaiah's Act

A year had elapsed between the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8 and that judgment had not come. Of course, there was a certain amount of trouble, and there were difficult and trying times, but the judgment that Isaiah said most certainly would come had not come. God spoke to Isaiah and said, “I want you to bring another message. It is time for them to hear from Me again, but I want this message not only to be a spoken message, I want it to be a message that is acted out as well as spoken.” You see, God knew that men could be reached with the eye and the ear better than they could just with the ear.

What was the thing that Isaiah was instructed to do? Let's look at it here. In the first few verses of chapter 8 is what we might call Isaiah's act and the witness that was presented to that act. This is Isaiah speaking:

Isaiah 8

1Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, [it would be better to say, “Take a big plate. It wasn't a roll, it was a square stone plate.”] and write in it with a man's pen [that is, write with ordinary, common letters, not the letters of the scholar, not the language of the student, but the letters of the man on the street. Write with those letters these words] concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.

He said, “That is all; just write it; but Isaiah, I want you to be sure that people understand that this is a message from Me. I don't want there to be any doubts about it, so I want you to take with you two witnesses. I want them to watch you write this. Then I want it put up in the public marketplace, and I want them to be able to witness that I told you to write this word.”

So, in the second verse, Isaiah took with him Uriah, the priest, and Zechariah, one of the lesser priests, who were in good standing. Isaiah himself was not in good standing. He was a troublemaker; he was a calamity howler. He was even accused of treason. When they were all talking about victory, he was talking about defeat. When he held up a warning hand of the dangers of the enemy, he was being someone who was to the extreme right and showing dissension when he ought to be talking about patriotism. So, he was not in good standing, but these two fellows were. They were the ecclesiastical leaders of the day. They were there, and they witnessed what was written on that plate.

Put yourself in the place of the people who lived in that day. What would you think if you saw that word written on the plate? You might say, “If I knew what it meant, I might be able to tell you what I thought.” What it means is this: “Hasten to the spoils; hasten to the prey.”

Suppose you saw that in the public marketplace with no word of explanation. Suppose you looked at it every day for at least nine months, maybe a little more. That is what the people did in that day, because nine months approximately after this was put up in the public marketplace, Isaiah was given a sign by God, and God said: “You call your boy Mahershalalhashbaz.” I have always been interested in what his friends might have called him. I'd hate to be labeled with a name like that. “Isaiah, you call him that, and when everybody asks you why you have given him a name like that, you give them this answer.” Notice verse 4:

Isaiah 8

4For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

“Before this child is old enough to say ‘Daddy' and ‘Mommy,' these people of whom you have been so afraid are going to be absolutely defeated by the king of Assyria.”

You see, God had been saying to them, “You are worrying about the wrong people. You're worrying about danger coming from this area. You had better not be so concerned about the people in this area; you had better be concerned about it coming from another area.” Then He told them why. Isaiah was instructed by God not only to give a witness in relation to an act, but he was to give a witness in relation to a spoken message. Notice, please, verses 5-10:

Isaiah 8

5The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
6Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice [that does not mean that they enjoyed being around them; it means that they gave them much more credit for the strength they had than they deserved] in Rezin [the king of Syria] and Remaliah's son [the king of Israel] ;
7Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
8And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land… [He is presenting a message by way of comparison of fearful invaders to a river. The river Shiloah is better known in the New Testament as the river Siloam, from which the pool of Siloam takes its name.]

Isaiah said to Ahaz and the people of his own nation: “You were not willing to rest and accept the peaceful waters of Shiloah that represent the peace of God. You were afraid to drink of those waters. You were afraid to put your trust in Me, so I will tell you what is going to happen. I'm going to give you a river that will be nothing like the river of Shiloah. It will be a mighty river that will go out of its banks and completely engulf the land until everything is desolation in its place.”

Did you notice what he said? “It shall fill the breadth of the land.” I stopped there, but the Scripture didn't stop there. I stopped there for emphasis. Did you notice what the other two words are? “Oh, Immanuel.” God is with you. God is with you even though the land is overflowed by the enemy. God is with you even though you are helpless before the onslaught of the enemy. God is with you.

Then Isaiah, in his message, addressed himself to all of the enemy of Judah—to Syria, to Israel, to Egypt, to Assyria, which were all enemies at that particular time and had the land of Judah frightened to death:

Isaiah 8

9Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
10Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.

I have been pointing out to you as we have been studying the book of Isaiah that there is a parallel between the conditions of Judah in this particular era of her history and our own state at the present hour. I would feel a whole lot better if I could say to you, “Don't worry, for God is with us.” I would feel a whole lot better if I could turn to those who are associating themselves against us openly and secretly, and say, “Associate yourselves. It will come to naught for God is with us.” I would feel a whole lot better if I could say that with great assurance.

I can't say that with great assurance, but I can say it with a reasonable amount of assurance for this reason, and I want to keep it before you: This nation is the only nation left from which money can be sent to the foreign fields for the support of missionaries. It is the only nation left. My hope is that God will spare us, not because we deserve it, but because He is with us. He still has some use for us. There is still a purpose in His mind in our behalf. God is with us.

Dare to Stand Alone

Look at the next paragraph because it becomes not a message to the people, but a message to Isaiah. It illustrates one of the reasons the message which Isaiah delivered to the nation of Israel was not received. They heard it, but they did not receive it. That happens today, doesn't it?

How many times has our nation been warned? How many times has our nation been called back to God, but it hasn't heeded the message? You and I must be very careful as Bible-believing Christians that we do not get swallowed up in the whirlpool of popular opinion. It is popular in our day to talk about how wonderful everything is. It is very unpopular to suggest that everything isn't quite what it ought to be. You must be careful you don't get involved in popularity.

Isaiah needed the same warning. You remember in chapter 6 when God gave him his commission, He said, “Isaiah, you're going to preach, but they are not going to pay one bit of attention to you.” Isaiah said, “How long?” God said to him, “A long time—as long as you're preaching.”

You know, when a people don't listen to what a man has to say, he does one of two things. He quits talking, or he sells out so they will listen—one or the other.

God warned Isaiah, and every conscientious Christian in this day of conformity would do well to take this to heart. Verse 11:

Isaiah 8

11For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
12Say ye not, A confederacy [conspiracy] , to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy…

God said, “Isaiah, these people are not going to think that I have anything to do with this. They are going to say that it is all a conspiracy. There is no real danger; it is all a conspiracy. Don't you fall into that trap. Don't you go around agreeing with them. Isaiah, on the other side of the question, don't be afraid, and above all, don't fear their fear. Don't be panicky for any reason at all. Don't get all involved in a bogie man that isn't there. Dare to stand alone.”

Look at verse 13:

Isaiah 8

13Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

What did He mean? Put God first, and make up your mind you're not going to be afraid of Ahaz and you're not going to be afraid of the enemy who's gathering outside the city walls; you're going to be afraid of God. When you have made up your mind that God comes first and He is the only one of whom you are afraid, you will be able to stand. God Himself, in verse 14, will be a sanctuary for you.

Of course, this is an Old Testament figure of speech. If a man had committed a crime, regardless of what it was, and he made it to the temple and laid hold on the four horns of the altar, nobody could touch him. If he ever left the temple, they could get him, but as long as he was in the temple, he was safe. God was saying to Isaiah, “God wants to be a sanctuary for you like that.”

We need it today, Beloved. In this day when men's hearts are failing them for fear, it is good to know that we have a Sanctuary who is God Himself, and He will not let us down. Look at verse 14:

Isaiah 8

14And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin [trap] and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.

This passage of Scripture is quoted three times over in the New Testament in relation to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are told in the New Testament that the Lord Jesus Christ will be a sanctuary for those who trust Him, and He will be a stumbling stone for those who don't. But He is saying here in the Old Testament that if an individual puts his trust in God, he will find sanctuary. If he doesn't, he will find judgment.

Second Indication of Their Rejection

Look at the next paragraph that begins with verse 16, which represents the second indication that the people had rejected his message. We read:

Isaiah 8

16Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
17And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
18Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

This means that Isaiah decided to shut his mouth. He said, “The revelation that God has given me, bind it up. These people are not going to listen.”

“Oh,” you say, “he gave up. He sold out.” No, he didn't. He just decided there wasn't any point in running off at the mouth any more. They weren't going to listen to anything he had to say. Instead, he said, “I will wait upon the LORD.” If we were to follow that phrase through, it would mean that he would spend his time in prayer to God, and he would be asking God for a solution. Look at verse 18:

Isaiah 8

18Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

He is saying, “I'm not going to talk, but I am going to be around, and every time you look at me, you are going to be reminded of what I've said, and every time you look at one of my children, you're going to be reminded of what God's message is for you, because Isaiah was not an individual who gave his children names that sounded nice because they were euphonious. And of course, he didn't have Hollywood to trouble him, so there was no temptation there to name his children after the latest movie star. He didn't even name them after great-grandpa. He named them names that would be a testimony every time someone saw them. Remember, he gave them two names: Shearjashub and Mahershalalhashbaz. His own name was Isaiah. Isaiah meant “Jehovah saves.” Shearjashub meant “trouble is coming.” Mahershalalhashbaz meant “hasten to the spoils; hasten to the prey.”

There are some individuals who do not like opposition, and they had just as soon folk get out of the way and let them alone. Sometimes God leaves them for a purpose. May I say that the so-called extreme right—I'm not at all sure that is an accurate designation—may not be able to say very much very much longer, and it might be as well if they didn't say as much as they do, but I hope that they never give up. I hope that they will still be around so that when people look at them, they will be reminded that all is not well. It is not as well as you think it is.

Of course, if we could all get in the exact place in our society that we ought to be and never say anything wrong about anything or anybody and extend the terms of offices to all of our legislators to where we wouldn't have the expenses of election and no differences in opinion and we kind of took things easy, we would be doing exactly what Isaiah said we shouldn't do. He said, “For the moment that is all that I am going to say, but I'm going to be around, and I want you to know that every time you see me, you can bet that I'm disagreeing with you and praying for you. Every time you see my two kids, I want you to know that judgment is coming, and you are not going to escape it.”

They Sought Fortune-tellers and Spirits

The third reason we know that they did not accept the message, is found in the last paragraph. Notice verse 19, where God says:

Isaiah 8

19Isaiah when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: you say to them should not a people seek unto their God? You say to them why should an individual seek for the living among the dead?

The above passage is paraphrased. Do you see what He is saying? “Isaiah, there is going to be vast turning towards spiritism. People are going to be consulting fortune-tellers and spirits.” Do you know that is on the increase in our day? Do you know that one of our presidents called into his office a lady who thought she had a gift in contacting the other world and he asked her whether or not he should run for the term for which he did run. She told him that he should, but that he would never live it out, and he didn't.

You see, this isn't ancient history tied up in an Old Testament that isn't inspired. This is the inspired Word of God, and all Scripture is written for our admonition. We should wake up and take notice and recognize that God is giving a warning in the Scripture about the very things that some of us face today.

When anyone talks to you about going to fortune-tellers, you stand up and say, “I have already asked God,” and you stand up and say, “What is the point in asking dead people about living people?” Don't be afraid.

Notice verse 20. If you don't have this underlined in your Bible—unless you have some objection to underlining in your Bible—you ought to underline it, and you ought to ask God to keep it before your conscience:

Isaiah 8

20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

What should be the final authority? The law and the testimony. That is the Old Testament phrase for the Word of God. What does the Word of God say? If the Word of God contradicts what people say, then you can be sure that people are walking in the dark and not in the light.

We are talking about nationalism. Permit us to make another application. There is no such thing as a successful war on poverty. The programs related to the socialization of the individual today, though they may come from brilliant minds, do not come from the Word of God.

Conclusion

“If what men are advancing contradicts the Word of God, Isaiah, you take your stand on God's Word, even if they do saw you apart with a wooden saw.” And that is what they did, too. Don't sit around and say, “Oh well, God will take care of me if I take my stand.” He may not. They sawed Isaiah asunder with a wooden saw. It would be bad enough to be sawed asunder with one of these power saws. Think about a wooden saw. He had to pay a price for his stand.

Hear me. Many of us, if we are willing to back up with our stand what we have said with our mouths, may have to pay a price. The day is coming—to the law and to the testimony. Hear me. If you take your stand on the Word of God, and it contradicts something that is very vital to society as a whole, you can expect to pay the price.


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