Tuesday 06 December 2016

Bible Book:

Isaiah 7:1-9 Tuesday 6 December 2016

Psalm: Psalm 68:1-20


We find ourselves in the world of political intrigue andalliance. Ephraim and Aram had formed a military coalition to standagainst Assyrian expansion and were determined to ensure that Judah("the house of David" (v. 2)) became part of this anti-Assyrianunited front of Palestinian states. But Judah declined. Judahwas attacked (2 Chronicles 28:5-8) but Jerusalem did notfall. A second attack came (2Chronicles 28:17-18) this time with the express intention ofdestroying the "house of David". In the snapshot that we have inthis passage we are waiting the attack and, it seems that Jerusalemholds its breath. Ahaz and his people were fearful of what mightcome, shaking "as the trees of the forest shake before the wind'(v. 2). But the moment of truth comes not in the attack of theirenemies, but in their response to the crisis. Would King Ahazsuccumb to the pressure and ally with the others or would he remainfaithful to the promises of the Lord? Would he seek salvation byworks (political expediency and power) or by faith (trusting theLord to protect them)?

Isaiah was sent by the Lord to speak with Ahaz as the moment ofdecision drew close. He took with him his son Shear-jashub. Thechild encapsulates a promise in his name for it means 'a remnantshall return' (the 'house' will not be lost); but the name alsorecognises the perilous position of Jerusalem, for it could also betranslated 'only a remnant will return'. The Lord's advice to Ahazthrough Isaiah is "Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not letyour heart be faint" (v. 4). Alex Motyer (in his book The Prophecy of Isaiah) suggests, "Be carefulto do nothing…".

When the crisis moments come, sometimes the best response is tohold fast, to avoid the hasty response enticed by the promise of asimple outcome; to wait on the promises of the Lord, to wait inquiet confidence for "if you do not stand firm in faith, you shallnot stand at all" (v. 9).

To Ponder

  • Can you recall a time in your personal journey when it was hardto "stand firm in faith" when inside you were shaking like a leaf?(I wonder if verse 2 is the origin of that saying?) Whathappened?
  • Are you the kind of person who would understand 'Shear-jashub'as a promise of hope ('a remnant shall return') or as a premonitionof doom ('onlya remnant shall return')?
  • Where do you see unholy alliances being formed in today's worldand what outcomes do you anticipate or fear? Take the opportunityto offer your fears to God in prayer.
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