The Lord Invites ALL to Trust

The Daily Bible in Chronological Order 365 Daily Readings with Devotional Insights to Guide You Through God’s Word published by Harvest House in the New International Version (NIV) has been very helpful in putting Isaiah’s prophecies in their historical context.
For example, here is the history listed for Isaiah 6-12.
Isaiah 2:1-5 The Last Days
2 Kings 15:19-28 In Israel (742-741 BC)
Isaiah 6:1-13 Isaiah’s Mission Told in a Vision
2 Chron. 27:3-6 Jotham’s reign in Judah
Micah (the whole book dedicated to Judah)
1 Chron. 5:23-26 Early Beginnings of Captivity in Israel
2 Kings 15:37 War between Syria, Israel & Judah (In Judah)
Isaiah 7:1 – 12:6 Isaiah’s Prophesies about a Saviour
7:1-2 Ahaz Learns of Alliance
7:3-9 God’s Message to Ahaz
7:10-12 Ahaz Refuses a Sign From God
7:13-15 Isaiah Foretells Savior to be Immanuel
7:16-25 Assyria to Destroy
8:1-10 Syria and Israel to Fall
8:11-18 Isaiah Calls them to Trust God
8:19-22 Others Cannot be Trusted
9:1-7 Savior’s Kingdom Coming
9:8-21 God’s Wrath Against Israel
10:1-4 Anger Against Injustice
10:5-19 Assyria’s Punishment
10:20-23 Remnant to Be Saved
10:24-34 Captivity will be Overcome
11:1-9 Savior’s Lineage from David
11:10-16 Savior to Gather Remnant
12:1-6 Praise for Deliverance
2 Chron. 28:5-8 Judah Defeated by Allies
2 Chron. 28:9-21 Captives’ Release Secured

When you read it in the book itself with its historical notes and easy reading layout…it’s a real joy!
Anyway, today we are looking at Isaiah 7, and hopefully we will write about chapter 8 later on tonight.

The northern nation of Israel (referred to by the dominant tribe of Ephraim) and Syria combined to attack Judah (the southern kingdom). The alliance between these two nations and their ultimately unsuccessful attack on Jerusalem is described in 2 Kings 16.

But the war against Judah took a great toll against the southern kingdom. 2 Chronicles 28:6 documents the damage:

For Pekah the son of Remaliah killed one hundred and twenty thousand in Judah in one day, all valiant men, because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers.

2 Chronicles 28:5 says that the Syrian army carried away a great multitude of them as captives. The king of Israel also captured 200,000 men, women and children as captives, but sent them back to Judah at the command of the prophet Oded (2 Chronicles 28:8-15).

Ahaz was a wicked king of Judah, worshipping other gods and even sacrificing his son to Molech (2 Kings 16:1-4). The only good thing Ahaz seemed to do was father Hezekiah, who became a good king of Judah.

And still the Lord invited this evil king to trust in Him to give Judah the victory against the Israel/Syrian alliance. What a mercy of God, that even to such a rebel, He offers His grace and care.

But instead Ahaz prefers to enter into an ungodly alliance with Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, and even gave Tiglath-Pileser silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord as a present to win his favor and protection (2 Kings 16:7-9).

If the king of Judah and the people of Judah had put their trust in the Lord, they would have had the peace of God in this conflict, instead of shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Why would Ahaz find it so hard to trust in the Lord instead of looking to a cruel enemy to become allies with him? Perhaps the devastation that had wracked Judah thus far had made Ahaz stop trusting in God. “If God loves me, why am I in this mess at all? Trust Him now, after all He has allowed to happen? Are you crazy?”

Ahaz was unable to see the situation the way the Lord did. Ahaz looked at Israel and Syria and saw a terrible threat. God looked at Israel and Syria and saw two stubs of smoking firebrands. To the Lord, they were all smoke and no fire!

God gives a promise with a warning: If you will not believe, surely you shall not be established.

So Ahaz has a challenge. God has promised, now the king of Judah must believe. If he will not believe, it will not affect the outcome of the attack against Jerusalem. God has already decreed that their attack would not succeed. But it would affect the course of Ahaz’s life and reign as king (surely you shall not be established).

As it happened, Ahaz did not believe. He did not put his trust in the Lord. He put his trust in his own scheming and logical methods and allied himself with the king of Assyria.

Jerusalem was spared, and Ahaz no doubt believed he was successful, and his plan worked. But if he would have just trusted in the Lord, Jerusalem would have been spared, and Ahaz would have been blessed.
Even when God invited this wicked king to ask Him for a sign, Ahaz refused, knowing that he would be held accountable for what God spoke. So Ahaz cloaks his rebellion in the words of humility and spirituality. But God saw right through it!

This sounds very spiritual from Ahaz. He almost seems to say what Jesus said in Matthew 4:7:

You shall not tempt the Lord your God.

Though the words are similar, the hearts are far apart. Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, because when God fulfilled the sign, he would be “obligated” to believe.

This was not tempting or testing God in wrong way. It is never testing God to do as He says, and if the Lord invites us to test Him, we should.

In Isaiah 7:14 we have one of the most famous prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus the Messiah in the Bible. It also illustrates a principle of prophecy, that prophecy may have both
  • a near fulfillment and
  • a far fulfillment.
The near fulfillment of this prophecy centered around Ahaz, Jerusalem, and the attack from Israel and Syria. For Ahaz, the sign centered around a time span. Simply put, God would give Ahaz a sign that within a few years, both Israel and Syria would be crushed. This was a sign of deliverance to Ahaz.

The far or ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy goes far beyond Ahaz, to announce the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ. We know this passage speaks of Jesus because in Matthew it says regarding Him:

Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, “God with us.”

So for us, the ultimate fulfillment is good news giving us abundant life!

But for Ahaz, who had been foolishly trusting in Assyria instead of the Lord, the near fulfillment was bad news. It is as if the Lord is saying, “It will seem to you like trusting in Assyria is a clever move, because the armies of Syria and Israel will be defeated. But the Assyrians will end up defeating you also.”

Captain of my soul, thank You for fighting on my behalf, even when the circumstances of life seem to mount up against me. Immanuel, thank You for Your ever-present company. That You are there in the beginning of the day, throughout the events of the day during my waking hours, as well as when my head hits the pillow at night. Lord, remind me to always attribute every good and perfect gift to You and not to some scheme or strategy that I have implemented. All victories come from You! We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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