Scripture Text – Isaiah 7-12
“Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel From the LORD of hosts, Who dwells in Mount Zion.” – Isaiah 8:18.
This statement by the Prophet Isaiah is a key to understanding the meaning of the events and prophecies we are going to cover in this lesson. Four symbolic names are involved in Isaiah’s messages, each of them with a very special meaning: Immanuel, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, Shear-jashub, and Isaiah. We’ve discussed Immanuel, we will continue with the others.
Maher-shalal-hash-baz: A Warning of Judgement
Please read Isaiah 8:1-22 for the background to this section.
Isaiah married the virgin, and the legal documents were duly witnessed and sealed. He even announced that their first child would be a son and his name would be Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means “quick to plunder, swift to the spoil.” Since Isaiah’s sons were signs to the nation as evidenced in Isaiah 8:18, this name was significant. It spoke of future judgment when Assyria would conquer Syria and invade both Israel and Judah, and when Babylon would take Judah into exile. A child would start speaking meaningful sentences about the age of two. In 732 B.C., about two years after Isaiah’s son was born, both Pekah and Rezin were dead (Isaiah 7:1); and Assyria had conquered Syria and begun to invade Israel (2 Kings 15:29). The army was quick to plunder and swift to take the spoil.
In the remainder of this chapter, Isaiah used three vivid contrasts to show the rulers of Judah the mistake they were making by trusting Assyria instead of trusting the Lord.
They chose a flood instead of a peaceful river (Isaiah 8:5-10). The pro-Assyrian faction in Judah rejoiced when Assyria defeated Syria and when both Pekah and Rezin died. These victories seemed to prove that an alliance with Assyria was the safest course to follow. Instead of trusting the Lord (“the waters of Shiloah that flow softly” in verse 6), they trusted the great river of Assyria. What they did not realize was that this river would become a flood when Assyria would come and destroy Israel and devastate Judah. God offered His people peace, but in unbelief they opted for war. They were walking by sight and not by faith. But Isaiah saw no permanent victory for the invading army. After all, they were entering Immanuel’s land; and God was with His people and would deliver them for His name’s sake. Assyria might plan its strategy, but God would thwart its every move. Sennacherib’s army camped around Jerusalem, certain of victory; but God wiped them out with a single blow (see Isaiah 37).
They chose a snare instead of a sanctuary (Isaiah 8:11-15). God warned Isaiah not to follow the majority and support the popular pro-Assyrian party. Even though his stand was looked upon as treason, Isaiah opposed all foreign alliances and urged the people to put their faith in the Lord (Isaiah 7:9; 28:16; 30:15). The Jewish political leaders were asking, “Is it popular? Is it safe?” But the prophet was asking, “Is it right? Is it the will of God?”
When you fear the Lord, you don’t need to fear people or circumstances. Peter referred to this passage when he wrote, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” – 1 Peter 3:14–15. Isaiah compared the Lord to a sanctuary, a rock that is a refuge for believers but a snare to those who rebel. The image of Messiah as a rock is found again in Isaiah 28:16 (and see 1 Peter 2:4–7; Romans 9:33). “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” – Psalm 46:1.
They chose darkness instead of light (Isaiah 8:16-22). The nation had rejected Isaiah’s message, but that didn’t mean that his ministry was a failure. The true disciples of the Lord received God’s Word and treasured it in their hearts. By faith, the prophet was willing to wait patiently for God’s Word to be fulfilled.
But even if his words fell on deaf ears, Isaiah and his family were themselves a “living prophecy” that the nation could not ignore. Isaiah’s name means “Jehovah is salvation,” and this would remind the people to trust the Lord to deliver them. His older son’s name means “A remnant shall return,” and this was a word of promise when it looked as though the nation was destroyed. A believing remnant did return to Jerusalem from Babylon and they were encouraged by what Isaiah wrote in chapters 40–66. The name of the younger son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, we’ve already mentioned and his name pointed to the fall of Syria and Ephraim. Verse 18 at the beginning of this lesson is quoted in Hebrews 2:13–14 and applied to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In their time of crisis, instead of turning to God for wisdom, the people consulted demons (see verse 19 and also Deuteronomy 18:10–12); and this only increased their moral and spiritual decline into darkness. The increase of the occult in our own day is evidence that people are deliberately rejecting God’s Word and turning to Satan’s lies. “If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn” (verse 20 NIV). Judah’s leaders anxiously looked for the dawning of a new day, but they saw only a deepening darkness. God’s Word is our only dependable light in this world’s darkness (Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19–21).
To Be Continued