Monday, June 30, 2014

Isaiah 8: The Witnessess (Part 1 of 4)

Isaiah 8: The Witnessess (Part 1 of 4)

The LORD directs Isaiah to seal the documentation concerning the future Assyrian invasion of Israel, again using Isaiah's child as a sign. The LORD compares Assyria to a mighty river flooding all of Israel and Judah, all the land belonging to God's Chosen: Immanuel.

The LORD gave Isaiah a stern warning: do not allow Israel's fear to infect you: "Fear God alone". Isaiah responds in the voice of Immanuel: "I will hope in the LORD". Those who seek the occult forces of necromancery will be thrust into thick darkness.

This chapter will be divided into four parts, each part posted weekly for the next four weeks:

  • The Witnesses
  • The Flood
  • The Conspiracy
  • Waiting And Hoping

The Tablet

Isaiah writes the words of the LORD on a tablet and has two witnesses seal it for authenticity. The prediction is accompanied by a symbol: Isaiah's child.

The tablet is large, and Isaiah is to write on it in "common characters":

The tablet (made of skins, papyrus, wood, metal or stone; sometimes coated with wax) would be marked with a pointed instrument or iron stylus in ordinary characters which the humblest could read, rather than in hieroglyphics (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).

The Priest

Why did the LORD choose Uriah as witness? Uriah the priest was an accomplice with King Ahaz in idolatry:

2 Kings 16:2-16 (ESV) "Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree...

"When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. And King Ahaz sent to Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details. And Uriah the priest built the altar; in accordance with all that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus, so Uriah the priest made it, before King Ahaz arrived from Damascus...

"And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king's burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. And throw on it all the blood of the burnt offering and all the blood of the sacrifice, but the bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by. Uriah the priest did all this, as King Ahaz commanded."

It would be to Uriah's interest to discredit Isaiah. Uriah would be a reliable witness only because he would not be likely to conspire with Isaiah after the fact by supporting a false testimony.

The LORD wanted the people to be forewarned, not that they would escape the invasion, but that they would know that the LORD was sovereign over the invasion. Only after the fact would the people realize the truth of Isaiah's incredible prediction.

What do you think?

The Child

The LORD directed Isaiah to document on a tablet the prophecy concerning Assyria, and the tablet was to be sealed with the name of Isaiah's son:

Isaiah 8:1 (ESV) "Then the LORD said to me, Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz."

The boy's name symbolized the speed and purpose of Assyria's invasion. Before the boy would be old enough to talk all the wealth of Damascus (capital of Syria) and Samaria (capital of Israel) would be carried away by the Assyrian king.

The "prophetess" perhaps was the same as the "virgin" in the previous chapter. Perhaps only one child was born, and the LORD gave the boy two symbolic names. Whether one child or two, whether Isaiah's child or not, the basic intention of the LORD is to emphasize his power and the certainty of invasion.

The LORD went to great lengths to authenticate the prophecy and give the people warning. Two witnesses, a sealed tablet and a child's pre-determined birth.

What do you think?

photo credit: vintagedept via photopin cc