:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 7:1-9

Isaiah Chapter 7:1-9
vs. 1-2

- This is a story from the time of King Ahaz.

- “When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan. The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.”

- Jotham was the son of Uzziah. Both Uzziah and Jotham had this problem... They themselves followed God... but they didn't get rid of the shrines and idols in Judah. As leaders, they may have led by example... but they didn't bring the sin of the people into question. They let them do as they pleased.

- If we look at the king and nation relationship as a parent and child relationship... These kings... spoiled their children and let them do whatever they wanted... no questions asked. Every once in a while, they might have tried to reason with the people... or gave some kind of “Now, you really shouldn't do that” kind of statement... but... for the most part... they lived their lives and let the people run wild. They were more focused on themselves and their own well-being than they were the spiritual... “lostness” of the people.

- We can take a lesson from this in many aspects of our lives... not only towards children if you are a parent, but as a friend, or as a co-worker, or as family, or as church family... There sometimes comes a time in life when you have to confront the sin not only in your own life, but in the lives of those around you.

- Now this isn't to say that you go to everybody you know and start nit-picking at their lives... “Take the log out of your own eye” ring a bell?

- Luke 6:39-42

- However, blatant, open sin, cannot be allowed to grow in a life that claims the name of Christ.

- I don't watch much reality TV... but every once in a while I see this show advertised called “Intervention.” Basically, family and friends are getting together to have an intervention with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. They all sit down and explain that this addiction is detrimental to their health and to these relationships, and that a change needs to happen...

- In my mind... that's what needs to happen in our relationships sometimes. It might not be a whole group setting... but sometimes, people don't see what kind of effects their lifestyle is having on other people.

- Granted... a conversation like this is not an easy one... you might lose the relationship for a while over it... but I guarantee it's a necessary conversation when it comes to a Christian insisting on persisting in their sin.

- I John 5 starts by explaining who a Christian is. Someone who believes that Jesus is the Christ. Someone who loves God and his children. Someone who obeys God's commandments... so on and so forth...

- Then in verse 16, he says 'If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death. We know that God's children do not make a practice of sinning, for God's Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. We know that we are children of God and that they world around us is under the control of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life. Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts.”

- Now, give me a second to explain all this...

- What is the sin unto death? What is so terrible as to be unforgivable?

- Go with me to Matthew 12. The Pharisees have been keeping tabs on Jesus. They heard that He cast a demon out of a man. Their response to this was to say “No wonder He can cast out demons. He gets His power from Satan, the prince of demons.”

- Jesus then replied by saying, well... if I am empowered by Satan, then Satan is fighting against himself... so his kingdom is in a civil war. A kingdom divided cannot stand, so that doesn't really make any sense... Only someone stronger and greater than Satan can bind him up and plunder his house...

- Then Jesus says: “So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven—except against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven. Anyone who speaks against the Son of Man can be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, either in this world or in the world to come.”

- Matthew 12:22-37
- Mark 3:20-30

- Barnes Notes on the Bible on the Matthew verses reads thusly: “In this place, and in Mark 3:28-30, Jesus states the awful nature of the sin of which they had been guilty. That sin was the sin against the Holy Spirit. It consisted in charging him with being in league with the devil, or accusing him of working his miracles, not by the "spirit" or "power" of God, but by the aid of the prince of the devils. It was therefore a direct insult, abuse, or evil speaking against the Holy Spirit - the spirit by which Jesus worked his miracles. That this was what he intended by this sin, at that time, is clear from Mark 3:30, "because they said he had an unclean spirit." All other sins - all speaking against the Saviour himself - might be remitted. But this sin was clearly against the Holy One; it was alleging that the highest displays of God's mercy and power were the work of the devil; and it argued, therefore, the deepest depravity of mind. The sin of which he speaks is therefore clearly stated. It was accusing him of working miracles by the aid of the devil, thus dishonoring the Holy Spirit.”

- So this sin unto death is that in which we attribute the works and power of the Holy Spirit... to Satan.

- footnote: “Christians sometimes wonder if they have committed this sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Christians need not worry because this sin is attributing to the devil the work of the Holy Spirit. It reveals a heart attitude of unbelief and unrepentance. Deliberate, ongoing rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit is blasphemy because it is rejecting God Himself. The religious leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy, but ironically they were the guilty ones when they looked Jesus in the face and accused Him of being possessed by Satan.”

- So, as Christians. When we see a brother or sister who is sinning... we are first to pray for them. Then to speak to them. If praying that they are convicted and that they see their need for a life change works... then there is no need to speak openly... However, if they persist after a time of praying, or seem to be under conviction, but not heeding the hints from God... then it is time to speak. But in Matthew 18:15-18, we have the rest...

- “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won't accept the church's decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth, will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

- In some translations “forbidden” is read as “bound”.

- So, to make the full circle...

- If the kings Uzziah and Jotham had done what they were supposed to do... then righteousness would have abounded... The people's hearts would have been affected and their own lives would have reflected the change.

- As it was... Ahaz came along... who was a very evil king. The apathy of his father and grandfather led to him being a completely evil king. He sacrificed his son to an idol. He wasn't just worshiping an idol... he was involved in human sacrifices...

- The story of Ahaz can be found in II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28.

- Last chapter, God told Isaiah to say to the people to listen but not understand, to watch, but learn nothing. That their hearts would be hardened and their ears would be shut. That they would not understand with their hearts or turn to God for healing.

- The people were getting to the point that the only way that God was going to get through to them, was through trials and tribulations. “Until their towns are empty, their houses are deserted, and the whole country is a wasteland.” When things get rough... we HAVE to turn to God. It's our only choice. We either turn to God... or... perish. Judah was to the point... that God was going to have to present them with that choice.

vs. 3-9

- “Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn't need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah. Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, “We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah's king.”

- footnote- “Shear-jashub means “a remnant will return.” God told Isaiah to give his son this name as a reminder of his plan for mercy. From the beginning of God's judgment He planned to restore a remnant of his people. Shear-jashub was a reminder to the people of God's faithfulness to them.”

- Again, in the last chapter, the last verse talks about the stump being cut down and yet becoming a seed for the tree to regrow.

- Even though God was bringing judgment down upon His people... a remnant would remain and survive. And they would indeed grow again into the tree that He had intended them to be.

- And even though Ahaz was an evil, wicked king... God still was trying to speak to him. He sent Isaiah to the king to encourage him. To show him that God was still in control.

- Maybe God was yet again trying to prove His love through kindness and gentleness. Even though they were turning against Him... still He was going to try to win them back over.

- So God said this to Ahaz. Personally... I find this incredibly encouraging to look at from the perspective of possibly being ready to be attacked...

- “This invasion will never happen; it will never take place; for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus, and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin. As for Israel, within sixty-five years it will be crushed and completely destroyed. Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is not stronger than its king Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.”

- What I get from this is simply that God is in control. A country is no stronger than its king... and God is stronger than all men... God is still in control.

- And furthermore, the prophecy that before 65 years were up, Israel would be destroyed... well... about 15 or 20 years after this event... Israel was indeed destroyed and taken captive by Assyria.

- However, God also gave Ahaz a warning. That unless his faith was firm, God couldn't make him stand against his enemies... His faith had to be placed in God in order for there to be victory.

- That's a good statement for us in general. God will make us victorious... but our faith must stay strong... This is not to say that bad things won't happen... just that we will be able to get through them because God is with us.

- In Romans 12:3, It says to “Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.”

- And in Luke 17:5 the apostles asked Jesus how they could increase their faith. Jesus said 'If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea, and it would obey you!'” (Matthew 17:20 says that the mountain could be moved and that nothing would be impossible.)

- What I get from all this is something along the lines of the parable of the talents. God has given each of us a measure of faith... now what we do with it... is up to us. God can put circumstances in our lives that act as faith builders. He can put people in our lives that demand growth of our faith. He can show us how much He deserves our faith by all the good things He gives to us... but ultimately... it's up to us what we do with our faith. Do we allow our circumstances to grow our faith? Or do we let them smother it out and end up with nothing?

- With faith... nothing is impossible... Without faith... things look pretty hopeless...

- Ahaz... well... had faith in many things... but I don't know how his faith was in God... as we shall see...