3/16/2015

Trust or Bust (Isaiah 7)

Isaiah 7:1-25; 9b, 14

"Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm" "All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')" (Isa 7:9b, 14, NLT). [A Call for Faith and the Sign of Immanuel.]
How is your faith? Isaiah 7 is a message that challenges our faith. Is our faith strong enough to see us through crises? Are we secure in our faith? If not, perhaps we do not fully understand the Word of the LORD or the confirming sign He has given.
Overview. In Isaiah 1-12 Isaiah states his purpose in writing the book and recounts his calling to be a prophet. They predict and lament the eventual fall of Jerusalem. However the arm of the Lord will protect Judah from the Assyrians who will destroy Israel and later itself be destroyed. Isaiah looks beyond all these things to the coming of Christ and his glorious kingdom. Isaiah 7-12 complete the first major section of Isaiah (Prophecies Concerning Judah And Jerusalem, chs. 1-12). They contain historical narrative and prophecies delivered during the time of Ahaz, king of Judah (ca. 735-732 B.C.). Jerusalem was being threatened by Syria and Israel for refusing to join them in their resistance against Assyria. Ahaz and Judah were tempted to seek help from Assyria in the north and Egypt in the south. God used Isaiah and his sons to encourage Ahaz and his nation to trust in the Lord, not political alliances. Isaiah's prophetic utterances not only looked to the more immediate deliverance from God, but also to the time in which God would provide ultimate deliverance for Judah. This section can therefore be entitled, "Judah's True Hope: The Messianic King (7-12)."

Isaiah 7 describes The Syrian-Israel Crisis in which God sent Isaiah and his son to encourage Ahaz and offer a sign from the Lord. Though rebuffed by Ahaz, the Lord provides a sign related to a son to be born of a virgin whose name would be Immanuel ("God with us"). Some commentators opine that this prophecy had an initial fulfillment during the time of Ahaz, but was intended by God to offer hope for a time yet in the future. This sign finds its ultimate fulfillment in the birth of the Messiah (Mt 1:18-23). While the sign was intended to show that Judah would be safe from the threatened invasion by Syria and Israel, Isaiah does foresee that Judah will later suffer desolation from Assyria and Egypt, the very nations from which Ahaz was seeking help (7:1-25)!

Readings and References:
  1. A Call for Faith and the Sign of Immanuel (Isaiah 7:1-25):
    1. Only God can provide security amid the terrifying circumstances of life (1-9).
    2. The sign of the birth of Immanuel confirms the word of the Lord (10-16).
    3. The coming judgment makes belief in the word of the Lord absolutely essential (17-25).
  2. The Ultimate Sign: Isaiah 7. In Isaiah 7, God demonstrates His faithfulness to a promise that He made with King David concerning the Davidic dynasty by giving the ultimate sign to the House of David. The sign would be a virgin born Son named Immanuel, God with us.
    1. The Distress in the House of David because of Rezin and Pekah (1-2).
    2. The Planned Destruction of the House of David by Rezin and Pekah (3-9).
    3. The Declaration to the House of David (10-17).
    4. The Near Destruction of the Land of the House of David (18-25).
  3. Isaiah: outline of chapters 1, 2, 3, 4. Isaiah: outline of chapters 5, 6, 7, 8. The first twelve chapters of Isaiah tell us about Isaiah's purpose in writing the book and his calling to be a prophet. They predict and lament the eventual fall of Jerusalem. However the arm of the Lord will protect Judah from the Assyrians who will destroy Israel and later itself be destroyed. Isaiah looks beyond all these things to the coming of Christ and his glorious kingdom.
  4. [Executable Outlines: Isaiah]. Judah's True Hope: The Messianic King (7-12). The Syrian-Israel Crisis (7:1-25):
    1. Ahaz the fearful (1-9).
    2. The Lord's sign (10-16).
    3. The coming desolation (17-25).
  5. Overview of Isaiah. The Book of Isaiah is both majestic and beautiful. In Isaiah we must travel through the valleys of judgment, but we also gain the privilege of walking along the glorious road of redemption.
  6. The Purpose of Isaiah.
    • The judgment of God is so powerfully witnessed in the first part of the book (1-39), but then slowly but fully unfolds God's redeeming grace in the last part of Isaiah (40-66).
    • Isaiah 53 is the focal point of the whole of Isaiah. The 27 chapters are equally divided into 3 sections of 9 chapters, each ending with a marker verse depicting the lostness of mankind. Isaiah 53 stands at the center of the middle section. It is here in Isaiah 53 that God's unexplainable grace is unfolded like a beautiful flower. I. Judgment (1-39). II. Redemption (40-66):
      • Isaiah 40-48: God's gracious dealings with man.
      • Isaiah 49-58: God's gracious provision of redemption.
      • Isaiah 59-66: God's gracious promises of hope.
      • Isaiah 53 : Focus of Isaiah is where judgment becomes redemption.
    • In the first 39 chapters we have seen a convincing portrayal of the adulterous Israel running off and making alliances with Assyria, Egypt and Babylonia. God persisted after them, but they resisted.
      God could not use Israel to be a light to the nations but instead revealed how in spite of them He would find an Israelite who would do all of His will. This Servant, though facing great difficulties to accomplish His calling, would again issue forth hope and light springing up from Israel to all the world.
  7. God's Encouragement to the Oppressed Remnant: Introduction to Isaiah 7-12.
    • Chapters 1-12 can be considered a unit, but the two sub-sections (1-6, 7-12) use separate approaches. 1-6 belong to Uzziah-Jotham's reign while 7-12 belong to the later age of King Ahaz. The messages are different.
      In 1-6 Isaiah rebukes the nation of God's people for their sins. They were not to be surprised by judgment as if God had forgotten them, but on the contrary, they should expect its coming.
      7-12 describe Ahaz's time. Judgment had crept up and already swallowed up the northern kingdom along with its capital Samaria. So although this second section assumes judgment, it is in this context God sets forth His encouragement and hope to Judah's faithful. God is faithful, and there would be a remnant. The future existence of a remnant, however, first meant a thorough purge of Judah.
  8. Immanuel (Isaiah 7). My daily bread from Nov 2010.
  9. 50 sermons on Isaiah by Ray Ortlund.