Sunday, June 13, 2010

Isaiah 8-9: Trust and obey for there's no other way

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Opening thoughtSuppose you were in desperate need of a car, so you asked a friend who knows a lot about cars to go with you to an auction to buy one. You get to the car auction, spend a little time looking around and seeing how the whole thing works, and your expert friend advises you to make a low bid on a very nice late model Lexus. Well, you think you might be able to do this stuff yourself. You’ve looked around and seen how it’s done after all, and you ignore your expert friend’s advice . . . and you drive home with a 1972 Pinto.

That’s kind of what happened to King Ahaz of Judah. He didn’t take the advice his expert friend Isaiah gave him about how to lead Judah. He had been on the throne probably less than a year, but hey, he had looked around and seen how this governing thing is done, and he can do it himself. The trouble was, he did not have the experience necessary to know how to deal with the tricky, cut-throat geopolitics of the 8th Century Middle East.

Pray and Read:  Isaiah 8-9
Contextual Notes: Today is the story of two children, both are signs of God’s work among his people. Ahaz, on the throne probably less than a year, has rejected trust in God to trust in Assyria (ch. 7). Isaiah warns that God will now bring that very nation against His people (8:1-10) so that they can find out how trustworthy man is (8:11-22). Even so, the believer is to fear and honor God (8:11-18) rather than surrender to the panic that leads others to desperate acts of spiritual rebellion (8:19-22). Yet beyond the gloom lies a bright hope. A child will be born, a son will be given who will reign as David’s descendant and bring peace to the world (9:1-7). But first, northern Israel, which has turned its back on God, will be crushed (9:8-21).

Key Truth: Isaiah wrote Isaiah 8-9 to teach Israel  to put their trust in the Lord their Messiah.

Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about  trusting Christ everyday.

Sermon Points:
  1. Put your confidence in Immanuel (Isaiah 8:1-10)
  2. Put your trust in the Rock (Isaiah 8:11-22)
  3. Put your hope in the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:1-21)

Exposition:   Note well,

a.   8:1-4 – Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz: Speed-spoil-hasten-plunder signifying the speed with which Assyria would attack and destroy Syria and Israel. Isaiah makes out a property deed to symbolize the transfer of property to Assyria. By the time this child grows to become a toddler, just as Isaiah predicted, Damascus and Syria would be plundered by Assyria (734-32 BC).
b.   Ahaz rejected the sign of the best child, Immanuel (7:14). Now he gets a child who is a sign of destruction and disaster to Syria and Israel, who are invading Judah. In the midst of Judah’s and Ahaz’ disobedience and unfaithfulness to the Lord, he still cares for them and is aggressive to take care of his own.
c.   APPLICATION: When God presents you with his direction, he wants you to obey him, not reject his gracious opportunities. What decision is before you right now? What direction has the Lord given you? Why are you not moving forward in obedience? Why do you halt between two opinions? When you reject God’s best, the next best is still from his gracious hand, but it is not as good as he had planned it for you. Be obedient to his call and direction.
d.   8:6-10: Ahaz and Judah have rejected God’s supply and protection (the waters of Shiloah) – despised and rejected by them. Assyria, invited there by Ahaz, would know no boundaries and overflow like a flood over the land, endangering Judah as well. In fact, the Assyrian records we have today mention that Tiglath-Pileser III came into the area like a flood and devastated it.
e.   Faithful witnesses: They were needed to attest to the date and content of Isaiah’s prediction that Syria and northern Israel, which had invaded Judah, would be destroyed soon (8:4) and that Assyria would “sweep into Judah” (8:8). Later, Uriah and Zechariah would establish Isaiah predicted what would happen before the events took place.
f.    Immanuel (8:8, 10): Isaiah ends both verses of destruction with “O Immanuel!” It is a reminder that in the midst of trouble, God is with us. For the faithful, it is comfort that God remains in control of history.
g.   APPLICATION: What kind of trouble are you in? What is threatening you? What in the news is troubling you? God remains in control of history. And he remains in control of your history. So no matter the diagnosis, no matter the child’s behavior, no matter the supervisor’s attitude, no matter the employment situation, no matter the way the orders are going at work, no matter who is in the White House, no matter the issues at the courthouse, no matter the politics in the church house, God is in control. When you know he is in control and you know his character is good and that he has your best interest at heart, you can settle down, command the fear to go, tell the little questioning voices in your head to be quiet, and trust Him. It is called abiding in the vine. Jesus talked about it in John 15. You might want to read it sometime.

2.   PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE ROCK (Isaiah 8:11-22)
a.   8:14: Jesus interpreted this passage in Matthew 21:33-46, Paul did as well in Romans 9:32ff, as well as Peter in 1 Peter 2:8. The Rock that will cause many to stumble is the sure Rock in which to trust. Do not fear what others fear. Fear the Lord. Put your trust in the Rock.
b.   APPLICATION: If we truly fear God, our respect for his power will free us from fear of current dangers. Truly trust God, and you will know peace.
c.   8:18 – “Here am I” the same phrase as 6:8, and “and the children the Lord has given me” – Immanuel (7:14) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:1, 3). The child Immanuel is seen in the type of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, but this type can only point to the Virgin Born Child. These children are signs and symbols, miraculous signs authenticating his messengers. Verse 18 is cited in Hebrews 2:13 and applied to Christ.
d.   APPLICATION: Just as Isaiah’s family pointed beyond themselves to the Lord’s Word, we are called in our families also, by our lives, to be living witnesses of our Lord.
e.   8:19-22: ILLUSTRATION: Here is a strong allusion to King Saul. In a desperate state of fear, he went to a spiritist, the witch of Endor, to get answers because the Lord had left him. Ahaz is like Saul, in shaking fear and reaching the wrong direction for answers. Like Saul, Ahaz needed to repent, but it was the last thing Ahaz was interested in. He had rejected the Lord, and the only powers he had to access were illegitimate powers.
f.    A Godly fear of the Lord brings a sense of security. Failure to fear God condemns men to panic when disasters come. As they desperately search for help, they have a fearful gloom. How ironic that those who reject God typically end up blaming and cursing Him for their fate (8:21).
g.   ILLUSTRATION: Instead of the God of Life who would one day rise from the dead, these people consult the dead.
h.   APPLICATION: Our children are doing the same thing. Many young people who see no power in the Church, no genuine spiritual life in the people where they went to church, have turned in desperation to Wicca, European witchcraft.
i.    Others of us turn to another form of witchcraft – manipulation. We want to control the situation. We do not want to submit ourselves to anything. We want to make sure the board meeting or the contract or the committee meeting goes our way. We want to get on the phone and put things in people’s heads to turn them the way we want them to think so that they will do what we want them to do. Perhaps a little intimidation. Perhaps a little innuendo that leaves a question in the air. It’s all done to have control and have things happen the way we want them to. The opposite of submission is rebellion. Rebellion often plays out as manipulation. Samuel told Saul in 1 Samuel 15 that rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft.
j.    Are you a controller? Do you manipulate others? Do you manipulate your spouse? Do you maneuver your grown children to control them? Do you insert yourself where you have no business? Do you have the arrogance to think that you know better than anyone else, including the Lord what is best? Arrogance, Samuel told Saul, is like the evil of idolatry. Wonder who your idol is? Do you worship your own opinions as unquestionably the best ones all the time? Are you your own idol? Perhaps repentance is in order for you.

a.   9:1-2: A Great Light – Isaiah speaks to the most northern parts of Israel which saw the scourge of the Assyrian army first in their invasion. Isaiah promises that those territories, now walking in darkness, will be the first to see a great light. Matthew 4:15-16 interprets for us what is meant, saying Christ fulfilled this prophecy. Galilee would be the home and ministry center of the Lord Jesus. Every time an OT prophecy is fulfilled, it is fulfilled literally, not spiritually.
b.   9:6: A Child Born, A Son Given: This prophetic reference to Jesus illustrates his two natures in one being. The Messiah is a child born, yet also a Son who is given. Jesus came into the world as an infant through the womb of a virgin, but he had existed from eternity as God the Son whom the Father gave to us as a sacrifice.
c.   9:6-7: Justice and righteousness – The prophecy opens with a promise that Zion will be redeemed in justice and righteousness (1:27). The Song of the Vineyard in ch. 5 ends with a vain search for justice and righteousness (5:7) though the Lord of hosts will be exalted in justice and righteousness (5:16). From Isaiah 1-12, this word pair is only found one other time, at 9:6-7 as the foundation of the eternal kingdom ruled by the divine Son. Only through this king will God be pleased with what he finds in his vineyard.
d.   APPLICATION: 9:6-7: This individual must be more than just human. He must be human, but more that that, he must be divine to fulfill these qualifications. This is an explanation of the child of 7:14.
e.   9:8-21: From the reign of the Messiah the text shifts now to the destruction of northern Israel. What’s the connection? Jesus reign is marked by universal allegiance to him as God. Northern Israel’s history was marked from the tragic beginning by rebellion against him. Note the refrain (9:12, 17, 21).
f.    APPLICATION: Those who will not submit to the Lord will surely experience not the blessing of messianic times, but the havoc and ruination that crushed Israel.