Isaiah 8.1-16 — Fear God

Isaiah 8 is the outworking of the prophecies of chapter 7. Sure enough, with no surprise, it happens the way Isaiah said it would. The child is born, and the prophecy is reaffirmed: Israel will be conquered by Assyria. Ahaz still has a fair chance to turn to the Lord, as God always gives repeated chances for people to come clean, to repent, and to turn to him. There are a couple years of gap here, so God has been fair with Ahaz.

Then the Lord comes to Isaiah again. Lack of repentance is the death sentence. Anybody can repent, and the Lord will change his plans (Jonah 3, Jer. 18.1-12). But don’t try to save yourself. It just won’t work (v. 10). If God is for us, who can be against us? It is not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of God. James: make your plans, but say “If God wills…” God is sovereign. He is our reference point. (There is nothing here to imply that God controls everything. If so, then we would have to interpret this verse as teaching that God thwarts every plan. Since that is not the case, it is talking about a specific encounter.)

“This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people”. Beware of peer pressure, especially if you have a direct command from the Lord. Yes, we are to seek counsel among men, but we must be wise and discerning (Prov. 1.2-4).

(12) “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” What 9/11 has done to us Americans! Bad guys who looked indistinguishable from every other guy put bombs in trucks, buildings, their shoes, their underwear, and what could we do? Nothing really: Worry. Look over our shoulders. “If you see something, say something.” With each passing year, the threats seemed more insidious and less visible. China is reading our email now. Weather scares us. We distrust the earth, our enemies, and each other. Sept. 11 turned fear into a fact of life. Someone has said, “We are never more human than when we are afraid.” But Elias Canetti wrote: “Once [fear] has been overcome, it turns into hope.” The world sees things differently than we Christians do. It’s tough because we live by faith and not by sight, because what we see with our eyes can seem so real and convincing. It’s a big challenge to keep our godly head on straight and see through spiritual eyes.

We live in so much anxiety and fear of what people who have power over us can do to us, or how life can bring us pain and suffering. We are all vulnerable. What alliances should we make? How do we make decisions? Regardless of what it looks like, the Scriptures teach us to always throw our weight towards God (v. 13). He is separate from all (holy), and not skewed by politics or any forces or fears. He has the whole view, and not just a perspective.

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