Isaiah 8.17-22 — The Way of the Lord

“I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.” God talks to some, but not to others. For his followers, he is there and accessible. For the hypocrites, he is in hiding. We talk about why some people just don’t get it, no matter how clearly we explain it, how easy it is to understand, and how reasonable it is. But they don’t get it, and sometimes they just get downright hostile. It’s because they are spiritually blind, and it’s not a matter of intellect, reason, or logic.

People talk about God always answering prayers, but just like chapter 1, here He doesn’t. He is hiding his face. People say God always answers with a yes, no, or wait, but I defy anyone to prove that from Scripture. What Scripture says, as in chapter 1, is that sometimes God hides his face, and sometimes he refuses to answer. READ THE SCRIPTURES!
“I will put my trust in him.” You have to put your trust in someone or something. A lot of times, I trust my own thoughts or instincts, my experiences or perceptions. It’s hard not to because that’s what is in my head and what makes sense to me. But we can’t govern our lives by the wisdom of men. We HAVE to go by God’s wisdom, and we have to put our trust in Him.
V. 18: “Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.” Those who obey are a testimony against those who don’t, just like Rahab, Nicodemus, and the Samaritan woman. Cf. Dt. 6; Josh. 24.
Rahab: We’re in Jericho. The Canaanites are idolatrous and pagan people. They haven’t heard of YHWH, so how could they follow him? But then we find out they have heard of YHWH, and know enough about Him to choose to trust or not to trust. And who ends up trusting?—the uneducated, a woman, and a prostitute. The point is: if she could get it, and figure it out, and trust, then anyone could.
Nicodemus: We’re in Jerusalem. The most religious, YHWH-fearing, Bible-educated people in all of history. But it turns out that all of their training actually interferes with their faith. Is it impossible for such a one to see the truth? Nicodemus proves that it is possible to push through the training to get to the truth, and set aside the religion for the relationship. If he could do it, then anyone could.
The Samaritan Woman: Who can understand the arrival and message of the Messiah? It turns out that a woman, possibly of ill-repute, certainly having lived a pretty desperate life (with 5 husbands, but now living with another man), and a Samaritan on top of it all—if she can get it, then anyone can. She had religious misunderstandings, half-truths, and had been taught wrong, but she got it.
Deuteronomy 6: Moses and Pharaoh both grew up in the same household and received the same education. Moses turned to God, and Pharaoh turned his heart hard.
Joshua 24: everybody has to make a choice, and everyone gets a fair chance. You make your own decisions about God, and live with the consequences.
V. 19: “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” God talked to them through the prophets, but what about us? He doesn’t talk to us through prophets, so how do we know what to do? Well, we have prayer, the Bible, and spiritual gifts such as knowledge and discernment. But to turn to mediums is both unreliable and ungodly. People consult mediums to know what to do, or to find out what is going to happen. But God doesn’t tell you what to do—He tells you about how to live. People want someone to make decisions for them, and to tell them what’s going to happen. God says it’s a crock. Nobody can tell you that, and it’s going to mislead you. You will start to trust it rather than God or your godly thoughts or God’s word.
v. 21: “Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God.” When things turn bad because of our own bad decisions, people will blame God. People are so bad at cause-and-effect thinking. They’re also bad at seeing themselves accurately. But we’re very quick to blame God. People are SO bad at the game of life.

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