Friday, July 8, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 17

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 17

Isaiah gives a prediction for the coming invasion of Assyria. That nation will pour into Israel and Aram as a flood, carrying the people away like a river. The waters of this flood will swirl on into Judah, covering her up to her neck in water, but not conquering Jerusalem. "The Lord spoke to me again: 'Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates---the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. It's outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel!" (Isaiah 8:5-8) 

Shiloah is also known as the pool of Siloam where the Lord Jesus Christ will later heal a man who was born blind. This pool was cut out of the rock on the southern side of Jerusalem and it was fed by two aqueducts from the Gihon Springs. These springs were a very important water source for the city of Jerusalem, which is why in King Hezekiah's time they had to be heavily fortified and protected when King Sennacherib of Assyria sent an army there to threaten siege on Jerusalem. The word "Shiloah" means "sent", and the Lord is making a play on words in comparing this peaceful pool with the rushing floodwaters of the Euphrates which supplied Assyria with water. The message here is intended for the northern kingdom of Israel more so than for Judah, because the Lord says they "rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah". He is saying, "Israel, you broke off from the city I chose for My name, the location of My temple, and you rejected the peaceful waters I sent you. Instead you rejoice over your alliance with Rezin, the king of Aram, and over your own king, who will not be able to save you. Because you rejected the waters of peace I offered you, you will be overwhelmed by the churning waters of a great river. You will be conquered by a foreign nation. In rejecting the peace I offered you, you rejected Me as well, so instead of streams of peace I am sending you the floodwaters of your enemy."

At this point in time, Judah is not yet quite as idolatrous as her sister Israel. Israel jumped deep into idolatry, so much so that she is in over her head, and she will be swept away by a pagan nation. The cup of Judah's sins is not yet full but she is in up to her neck in them, and though Assyria will not be able to conquer Jerusalem, the swirling floodwaters of Assyrian soldiers will make much of the countryside desolate and ruined. The Lord gives us a picture of something like a tidal wave or tsunami that breaks free of its boundaries and inundates the land closest to it, with the waters reaching far into outlying regions before retreating. This wave will overcome Aram and Israel, with much of the water sweeping on into Judah before it is called back to its proper place.

Previously in the book of Isaiah we found a prophecy regarding Immanuel, a twofold prophecy involving a child soon to be born and a child to be born in a far-off time. Now the Lord applies the word Immanuel to Judah and Jerusalem, which the wings of a bird of prey will overshadow. The use of Immanuel in this instance may refer to the Davidic dynasty, the royal bloodline of Judah, the seat of the nation's power, and the rightful title-holder to the throne. The use of Immanuel takes us all the way back to Judah's first king, the shepherd boy David, but it also speaks of Judah's last king, the Shepherd of our souls, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the midst of all the bad news in the prophecies of Isaiah, time and again we find the Lord giving the good news that He will not make an end of His people. Since He brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, He has been "God with us" to the twelve tribes of Israel. When Assyria conquers the ten northern tribes and takes them captive, they have the promise that a remnant will return, the promise of "God with us". They will not cease to exist in a foreign land but will always be a nation in the eyes of God. When Assyria pours into Judah in an attempt to overthrow Jerusalem, they will not be able to do so, for the people there have "God with us". About a hundred years after Isaiah, Babylon will conquer Jerusalem and will carry the people away, but God will keep them safe in a foreign nation because He is "God with us". He will bring a remnant back to the land to rebuild the temple and the city because He will still be "God with us".

The Lord has been "God with us" to the twelve tribes of Israel since He first claimed them as His own. He will be "God with us" to them forever. His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Immanuel, was born to this people. The Messiah was sent to them, just as the peaceful waters of Shiloah were sent to them. Though He was largely rejected by His own people at His first advent, just as they rejected the peaceful waters of Shiloah, this doesn't nullify His right to the throne of David. At His second advent Jesus will once again be "God with us" and will rule the world forever from Jerusalem. He will be "God with us" to the Jews and "God with us" to the Gentiles. To all who have accepted Him who was sent to us by God, He will be "God with us".

In the book of Lamentations the prophet Jeremiah bewails the fate of his people but at the same time praises the name of the One who will not make an end of them, though their sins deserve it. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.'...For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love." (Lamentations 3:22-24, 31-32) Even in their desolation, the Lord is still "God with us", and all of Jeremiah's hope is in Him.

King David, a man of many mistakes who well understood the forgiving grace and mercy of our God, said, "He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities." (Psalm 103:9-10) If God treated us as our sins deserve, we would already have been consumed. But over and over He makes His offer of peace to us, stretching merciful hands in our direction, extending grace in the person of His Son, Immanuel, God with us.

Below is our worship song link for today.
This Is Amazing Grace

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