A GREATER FEAR

Opening Prayer

Remind me through your Word today, Lord, of your promises to those who follow you. Help me to follow you with courage, knowing who I am in Christ.

Read ISAIAH 8:1–18

Isaiah and His Children as Signs

The Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.”[a] So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”

The Lord spoke to me again:

“Because this people has rejected
    the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoices over Rezin
    and the son of Remaliah,
therefore the Lord is about to bring against them
    the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—
    the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
    run over all its banks
and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
    passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land,
    Immanuel[b]!”

Raise the war cry,[c] you nations, and be shattered!
    Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
    Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
    propose your plan, but it will not stand,
    for God is with us.[d]

11 This is what the Lord says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people:

12 “Do not call conspiracy
    everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
    and do not dread it.
13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
    he is the one you are to fear,
    he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
    for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
    a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
    they will fall and be broken,
    they will be snared and captured.”

16 Bind up this testimony of warning
    and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
    who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.

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.

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Footnotes

  1. Isaiah 8:1 Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz means quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil; also in verse 3.
  2. Isaiah 8:8 Immanuel means God with us.
  3. Isaiah 8:9 Or Do your worst
  4. Isaiah 8:10 Hebrew Immanuel

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Ask for the grace to trust God and all he has promised instead of giving in to fear.

Think Further

Another child is born, another sign is given. It’s another word of warning, of judgment. Assyria is coming, having been given a role by God to overwhelm Judah’s opponents, Israel and Syria (v. 4). However, the brutal Assyrians won’t stop there. Like a flood, they will submerge Judah too (v. 8). When God’s people take pleasure in the Assyrian attacks on their enemies (v. 6) they disregard their own lack of immunity from judgment. The child’s name, Maher-Shalal-Hash- Baz, says it clearly – judgment is coming and it’s coming soon.

The call on Immanuel (meaning ‘God with us’, v. 8) follows a judgment of unbelief as well as an assurance of protection (v. 10). This same tension of hope and judgment is reflected in the stone imagery of verse 14. God as a rock is both shelter and stumbling block. Complacency and judgmentalism have no part in the thinking of the people of God.

The Assyrians are one example, but all human forces are under the command of God. In their pride, they must never assume independent authority. They may make deadly plans, but they will be thwarted (v. 10). So, which is the greater fear – that of being in the hands of the Assyrians or the hands of the Lord Almighty? For Isaiah there’s no question – ‘he is the one you are to dread’ (v. 13); ‘I will put my trust in him’ (v. 17).

With enemies in the ascendancy and fear of what human power can do to us at its most fierce, where do we turn? What signs has God given us? In Isaiah, two children. We know that the cross and resurrection witness to human power trying to do away with the Christ of God but also to ‘God with us’ in salvation, in resurrection power, in the defeat of sin and death. He has overcome the world.

Apply

Isaiah is confident, but knows he has to ‘wait for the Lord’ (v. 17). How are you with waiting? Who can you encourage in a time of waiting?

Closing prayer

Father God, help me to see my world through your eyes, with more of your eternal perspective. Help me to trust in your faithfulness.

Last Updated on July 4, 2024 by kingstar

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