Summary: Isaiah tells us more about the coming Messiah.
The Isaiah Oracles - 2
December 6, 2009
Last week we began looking at the first of many prophecies a prophet named Isaiah. These are prophecies which occurred around 740 B.C., which means they were about 740 years before Christ was born and about 2750 years ago. Many of Isaiah’s prophecies were about the coming of Jesus and who He would be.
During part of the time that Isaiah was a prophet, the king of Judah was a godless man named Ahaz. Isaiah had the burden of proclaiming God’s truth while his nation eroded before his eyes under the leadership of King Ahaz.
Ahaz was the godless 20-something year old king of Judah who faced a national crisis. For the Jewish people it was just like the title of the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very bad Day. Nothing good was happening, in fact it was getting worse and worse by the day. Judah was being threatened in two ways: internally, they were morally and spiritually rotting; and externally, the impending attack from multiple enemy armies was creating wide-spread panic.
In this desperate time, Isaiah was sent by God to share with Ahaz some amazing and unbreakable promises from God. The northern kingdom of Israel had aligned with Syria and they were ready to attack Judah, along with the super-power, Assyria. There was no way out, so Ahaz was going to form an alliance with his greatest enemy, Assyria, but God said don’t do it.
As we saw last week, God wanted to show Ahaz that God had all the power, so in Isaiah 7, God went out of His way to tell Ahaz to ask for any miracle he can think of, so that he would really believe in God. But Ahaz refused, so through Isaiah, God tells Ahaz and all of the people standing with him, that a virgin will give birth to a child and his name will be Immanuel. It’s a sign of the Savior who was to come 740 years later.
Along with this great sign was the warning to Ahaz, in Isaiah 7:9, If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. The point was clear, God would rescue the people if they and most especially their king would stand firm, not using his resources, but using the main resource each of us should hold onto, our faith in God. In other words, ‘Ahaz, if you don’t trust and follow me, everything you’re trying to do will unravel.’
Ahaz was at a crossroads, choose God’s grace or choose His wrath. You would think that this young man who had been raised to love and trust the Lord would grab a the offer and run to Him for refuge and lead his nation back from disaster. Instead, Ahaz shoved God to the sideline, trading His presence and power for an alliance with the pagan nation of Assyria.
And so it was that the sun began to set for southern kingdom of Judah. To put it as Romans 1 does, Ahaz and those who followed him suppressed the truth, so they would experience God’s wrath because of their ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Chapter 8 of Isaiah’s prophecy details how this happened, as despair and gloom descended on Judah. Ahaz and the majority of the people of Judah had departed from God; so God handed them over to their sin and to their enemies. Already, the northern-most part of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians.
As it became clear that the godless plans of Ahaz were failing, people turned more and more to superstition and the occult to find hope. 2 Kings 16 tells us Ahaz even gave his son as an offering to the false gods of the Canaanites. It was a time of moral darkness, frustration, anger, and hopelessness under the judgment of God.
I really want you to consider what I’m about to ask you:
When people move away from the Lord, is judgment God’s only response to ungodliness and unrighteousness? Is that all we should expect? Do we say, “God is judging us. We’re doomed.” Is that God’s only response and option?
The resounding and repeated answer throughout the Bible is “No!” God warns us and exhorts us to turn to Him and flee the coming destruction. He woos us with His kindness. He makes a way to deal with our sin. He builds a highway that leads us back to Himself. And when by grace we see it for ourselves, it is the greatest news we’ve ever heard!
Something happens to Isaiah between Chapters 8 and 9. Right in the midst of describing what they can expect as a result of their rebellion against God, the Holy Spirit sort of fast-forwards time for Isaiah. Suddenly, the prophet sees the future God will bring, and the contrasts to the present gloom in Judah are so fantastic, amazing and powerful. We can’t help but celebrate the words from Isaiah 9.