Saturday, July 9, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 18

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 18

We are studying Isaiah's prophecy about the coming destruction of Judah's enemies. He has been warning King Ahaz and the citizens of Jerusalem that they need not make a bargain with the king of Assyria. God is Judah's helper. God is Jerusalem's mighty wall. 

Isaiah now speaks to the enemies of Jerusalem, "Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us." (Isaiah 8:9-10) The kings of Israel and Aram are in imminent danger of being conquered by Assyria. Up til now they have tried to persuade Ahaz to join with them against their enemy but he has refused, so they intend to come and forcibly take the throne from him to put their own man in his place. But their plans will come to nothing. They will be overcome before they can cause Jerusalem to fall. Assyria as well will become an enemy of Judah and, during the reign of the Ahaz's son, will stand outside the gates of Jerusalem urging surrender under threat of siege and starvation. But their plans will also come to nothing. Jerusalem will indeed fall someday but it will not be to any of her current enemies. She will have another century during which God will send His prophets to plead with her to repent. 

Why will Jerusalem's enemies be shattered? Because, as Isaiah says, "God is with us". Here we see the definition of the word "Immanuel" again. God is still with these people and as long as He is for them, nobody can be against them. There will come a time when He will lift His protective hand from that city, but even then in His heart He will always be with them. He will be with them during the seventy years of captivity in Babylon and He will be with them when they return to rebuild. 

From the very beginning, the tribes of Israel have been surrounded by those hostile to them. Jerusalem has always been in a perilous place, a place fought over and coveted. This is still the case today in 2016. In our passage this morning, King Ahaz and his household are in a panic and trembling with fear. The citizens of Jerusalem are in a panic, expecting the allied forces of Israel and Aram to advance against them at any moment. But the Lord reassures Isaiah with these words, "This is what the Lord says to me with His strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: 'Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it." (Isaiah 8:11-12) The people are about to lose their minds in fright over the conspiracy against them but the Lord, with a strong and comforting hand on His prophet, tells Isaiah not to be carried away with these same fears. 

"The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread." (Isaiah 8:13) If we lift the Lord up to His proper place in our hearts and lives, we can't help but get at least a glimpse of His awesome power and righteousness. If we regard Him as holy, the plots of puny mankind will appear as frail as they are. If we make God big in our eyes, every enemy will shrink down in comparison. 

King David lived a majority of his life under threat from enemies. He was threatened by neighboring tribes and nations and he was threatened by friends and even members of his own household. But in times of overwhelming distress he knew if he feared the Lord he need not fear anyone else. "The Lord is my light and my salvation---whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life---of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." (Psalm 27:1-3) Lately every time we turn the news on it's to behold yet another horror, yet another senseless loss of life, yet another tragedy. In my own community this morning we are recovering from the aftermath of severe storms, property damage, tens of thousands of people with power outages, injuries and the loss of at least two lives. When we look around us at all these things it's easy to panic. It's easy to come to the conclusion that the world is falling apart and there is no hope. But that's why the Lord tells Isaiah, and all of us, not to run frantically to and fro with our eyes darting madly about in a blind panic, believing in our hearts that all is lost, that the conspiracy of our enemy the devil is going to be victorious, that we are a defeated people. We need to fix our eyes and our hope on Almighty God, the One who simply said, "Let there be light," and an entire universe burst forth. We need to revere and honor the One who conquered the grave, stepping out of a dark tomb early one Sunday morning, holding the keys of hell and death in His hands. Jesus Christ has overcome! In Him, we too will overcome! The Lord is our light and our salvation! Whom shall we fear?

No comments:

Post a Comment