Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Isaiah 8:9-12


Isaiah 8:9-12

from the Amplified Bible

9 "'Make an uproar and be broken in pieces, 
O you peoples [rage, raise the war cry, do your worst, and be utterly dismayed]! 
Give ear, all you [our enemies] of far countries. 
Gird yourselves [for war], and be thrown into consternation! 
Gird yourselves, and be [utterly] dismayed!
10 Take counsel together [against Judah], but it shall come to nought; 
speak the word, but it will not stand, 
for God is with us [Immanuel]!'
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with His strong hand [upon me], and warned and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying,
12 'Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy 
[or hard, or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, 
nor [make others afraid and] in dread.'"

I opted for the Amplified Bible's translation of our verses today. The detail included provides great clarity. God is continuing to speak to and through Isaiah, and Judah receives a message of amazing hope. (And, so should we!)

There is a shift in voice with today's passage, in that God is speaking not directly to Judah but to Syria and Israel, and other nations that would make war against Judah in verses 9 and 10. It's a bit of trash-talking, if you will. God says, "Hey, you wanna take on Judah? Sure...get together, plan, organize, rally, call the media, pump yourselves up. Bring it on! Whatever...."

"...Be broken in pieces" (vs. 9); "...It shall come to nought" (vs. 10); ."...It will not stand" (vs. 10). And, the capper: "...For God is with us [Immanuel]!'" Let us remember that there was a very real threat against Judah. We read about this in Chapter 7. King Ahaz was not completely wrong to have concern over the alliance of these powerful nations. God sent Isaiah out to him to speak words of assurance on purpose:

"'Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands....'"
--Isaiah 7:4 (NASB)

But, we know what happened with Ahaz's decision. Still, Judah receives words of assurance from the prophet in spite of its king's choices, and the stamping out of Syria and the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians: "For God is with us." This is one of those prophecies that has fulfillment in the earliest of times yet still has yet to be completely fulfilled. No matter who comes to take on God's chosen people, He has said that it will "come to nought," because no power can change God's chosen plan.

"And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?
What can stand against?"
--from "Our God," lyrics by Chris Tomlin

Then, in verse 11, Isaiah says that God had worked a mighty thing in him, so that he would be fortified to bring this strong word to Judah. Obviously, the Holy Spirit strengthened as no one on earth could do. My study Bible further explains the difficulties the prophet encountered in carrying out his ministry: "Many in Israel considered Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets to be servants of the enemy when they advocated a policy of non-reliance on foreign powers and complete dependence on the Lord alone." When we think it's hard to explain to someone today that God is in control, imagine being a prophet back in the day, approaching the king of a weak nation with a message so contrary to the belief of the time. Even Immanuel fell upon deaf ears!

God didn't just tell Isaiah that this would be tough. He "warned" and "instructed." Just as God would not leave Judah unaided, He would not leave His man in the field unprepared. And, given the political climate and worldview of the day, God knew Isaiah would need some spiritual bolstering.

"Corruption is sometimes so active in the hearts even of good men that they have need to be taught their duty with a strong hand, and it is God’s prerogative to teach so, for he only can give an understanding and overpower the contradiction of unbelief and prejudice. He can teach the heart; and herein none teaches like him."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Verse 12's words to Isaiah from God say, "Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy." The King James Version uses 'confederacy' for 'conspiracy'. The Hebrew word is defined as "an (unlawful) alliance, confederacy, conspiracy, treason." [Strong's] Again, Isaiah is told that the word from God is not the "conspiracy" the people will claim it is. What the people are afraid of is not a fear that Isaiah should think twice about, even though it will be a threatening-sounding word to those who will hear it from his lips.

I'm in the midst of a study of Paul right now with my small group at church. We just finished reading Acts, Chapter 19, in which Paul who has been ministering to Ephesus, is kept out of a riotous situation by fellow believers. Demetrius, a silversmith, sees his trade of making idols to the god Artemis coming to ruin with Paul's preaching against other gods. Demetrius begins a public outcry.

"The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater.... So then, some were shouting one thing and some another, for the assembly was in confusion and the majority did not know for what reason they had come together."
--Acts 19: 29 and 32
No doubt, Isaiah felt the undercurrent of Judah's emotional response as he received his message from God not to respond to the threats of its enemies. What kind of riot might ensue, with the throngs joining together, not even knowing why? But the hand of God came upon Isaiah, to reassure and build him up for the challenge--just as surely as an angel had visited saying, "Do not be afraid!" Indeed, if Isaiah was to be effective in reaching Judah's remnant--which was important--he needed not to be "fainthearted" as Judah's king.
"When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.... Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.'"
--Deuteronomy 20: 3, 4 and  8
We'll have to wait quite a few chapters before reading Isaiah's beautiful words about not being faint. But I can close with Jeremiah's words any time:

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'"
--Jeremiah 29:11

Whom shall I fear?.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 8: 13-16

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Isaiah 8: 5-8

Again the Lord spoke to me further, saying,
“Inasmuch as these people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
And rejoice in Rezin and the son of Remaliah;
7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them 
the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates,
Even the king of Assyria and all his glory;
And it will rise up over all its channels and go over all its banks.
8 Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through,
It will reach even to the neck;
And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel."

Isaiah has shared the Word from God that Syria and the Northern Kingdom are going to be invaded, its people left to face death or captivity at the hand of the Assyrian Empire. The prophet opens today's passage in Chapter 8 saying, "Again the Lord spoke to me further...." (vs. 5) A direct word for Judah!

"Inasmuch as these people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoice in Rezin and the son of Remaliah...."
--vs. 6

My study Bible defines Shiloah as a small stream that had its beginnings at the Gihon Spring outside Jerusalem's city wall. The stream flowed into the city, its waters gathering at the Pool of Siloam. ["Siloam, the only perennial fountain of Jerusalem, and symbolic of God’s protection and sustaining power."--from vs. 6, Amplified Bible] You might recall Siloam as being the pool at which Jesus told a blind man to wash his eyes as part of His miraculous healing process. [John 9] Hold this reference for just a moment as we finish reviewing the rest of the verse.

"These people"..."rejoice in Rezin and the son of Remaliah." In the Hebrew, "these people" actually is expressed in a singular form, meaning "this people." With Isaiah speaking to the people of Judah, it is very likely that this is a direct address to the nation. Remember from past weeks the names of Judah's enemies--Rezin, king of Syria; and the son of Remaliah, or Pekah, the king of Israel. As much as these nations were invaders of Judah and whose alliance posed a continued threat to the nation, the people yet found reason to "rejoice" in them.

"...They cried them up as brave men, magnified their policies and strength, applauded their conduct, were well pleased with their successes, and were hearty well-wishers to their designs, and resolved to desert and go over to them. Such vipers does many a state foster in its bosom, that eat its bread, and yet adhere to its enemies, and are ready to quit its interests if they but seem to totter."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

God, of course, is not supportive of Judah's choices. Isaiah, using another strong comparative metaphor, says that He will "bring on them [Judah] the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates...." (vs. 7) Take a look at the picture up top. No, it's not the Nile, but the Euphrates certainly is a mighty river! Look how much territory it covers. What strikes me most, as I read into verse 8, is that this is the river that is going to "sweep on into Judah." If this were a literal reference, that would be quite a flood!

It is not a literal reference, but the effect of the flood is no less powerful and wide-sweeping. Go back to verse 7 as we see "the king of Assyria and all his glory" pegged for the Euphrates. Even though Judah had temporary safety, as King Ahaz aligned himself with Tiglath-pileser of the Assyrian Empire, this was not an alliance of trust--nor of earthly control. Do note, again, that "the Lord will bring upon them" the perils of the Assyrian armies. Judah was not going to escape punishment for its heinously sinful living and rejection of God. They would long for the perennial safety and security of the peace-filled, gentle waters of Shiloah.

Yet, even though Judah would be devastated, it would not be completely destroyed in this invasion. "It will reach even to the neck," says verse 8. That's pretty close to the full body, but the head of the nation--Jerusalem--would be spared in the 701 B.C. onslaught. [Reformation Study Bible] Matthew Henry reminds us of the greater picture here, as God still has plans for His people:

"Note, In the greatest deluge of trouble God can and will keep the head of his people above water, and so preserve their comforts and spiritual lives; the waters that come into their souls may reach to the neck, but there shall their proud waves be stayed."
--Mathew Henry

"Save me, O God,
For the waters have threatened my life.
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me....
O God, it is You who knows my folly,
And my wrongs are not hidden from You."

--Psalm 69:1, 2 and 5

One of the clues to a bigger picture is the closing reference to 'Immanuel.' Yes, the prophet is referring to Jesus here. What a picture the Son has to see! The land of His birthplace, His earthly home, His place of ministry. I wonder if this first picture didn't come to His mind when He wept over it while He was in the flesh. "The breadth of Your land," says verse 8, will endure great hardship and devastation, "the spread of its [Assyria's] wings" to cover and control. Do you remember what He said when He wept over Jerusalem, how He offered His safety and protection?

"'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!'"
--Matthew 23:37 and 38 (emphasis mine)

The prophet says--next week--that there is coming a time of peace and security for some, but not before the "chicks" are scattered.

"A believing remnant".... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 8:9-12

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Isaiah 8: 1-4


Damascus and Samaria Fall

1 "Then the Lord said to me, 'Take for yourself a large tablet and 
write on it in ordinary letters: Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey. 
And I will take to Myself faithful witnesses for testimony, 
Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.'
So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. 
Then the Lord said to me, 'Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 
for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.'"

Packing a punch with the first four verses of Chapter 8, Isaiah receives more direction from God as well as a second child who will speak His Word to the nation of Judah. Rich text today--don't miss a word. (And, yes, the Hebrew names are definitely important! Be not afraid....)

The Lord tells Isaiah (vs. 1) to get a tablet and write "in ordinary letters" or, more literally, with the stylus of man: "Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey." Commentator Matthew Henry refers to this as the "title" of a book. Goodness, we might even call that a "tweet" today, perhaps!

The background I've read suggests that what Isaiah eventually writes goes beyond just a title (and much more than what I've captured on that sandwich board in the picture). The King James Version uses 'roll' instead of 'tablet,' which definitely implies more text than a headline. The chapters of material that we are reading in Isaiah now, pronouncing what was coming at the hand of Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser, is what God was asking the prophet to record in written fashion for all to be able to access and read.

Not only will this information be recorded for posterity, but God takes to Himself (vs. 2) "faithful witnesses" to affirm His words that Isaiah is bringing forth in this writing. This is almost like having a couple of notary publics present, which falls in line with Scripture's mandate that, "'A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed....'" (Deuteronomy 19:15)

These two "faithful witnesses" are identified by name, and their names are important. The first is Uriah (or Urijah) the priest, whose name means "flame of Jehovah." He was a loyal priest under King Ahaz. The other man is Zechariah (whose name means "Jehovah remembers" or "Jehovah is renown"), who is born of a man named Jeberechiah (whose name means "blessed of God"). We don't really learn anything else about Zechariah or his father, but these are the men God, through Isaiah, chose to serve as witnesses. Burton Scott Easton, writing in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, says, "'faithful witness' means simply 'one whom the people will believe'...."At the time of Isaiah's prophecy, these were the two men for the job. (More on Urijah's faithfulness at the end of this post.)

In verse 3, we switch over to Isaiah speaking, as he says he "approaches the prophetess." This is a term for wife of a prophet, referring to Isaiah's wife. We then learn of Isaiah's second son who, like his big brother (Shear-jashub--"a remnant shall return"--7:3), carries a name that will forever speak to the nation of Judah: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. His son's name--the book's title--"Swift is the booty, speedy is the prey." Or, more thoroughly explained in the Amplified Bible: "...[they (the Assyrians) hasten to the spoil (of Syria and Israel), they speed to the prey]." (8:1)

Every time this boy's mom would call him, a reminder would be issued to Judah that a prophecy was waiting to be fulfilled. Swift and speedy. Recall what we have read before today:

"He will also lift up a standard to the distant nation, and will whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and behold, it will come with speed swiftly."
--Isaiah 5:26

It was only a matter of time before Assyrian forces would come upon Syria (Damascus) and the Northern Kingdom (Samaria). How much time? Look at verse 4: "...for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother’...." 'Dada' and 'Mama' were first words for children back in that day, too. Not much time before Isaiah's words on the tablet would mark the demise of Judah's enemies.

Isn't it incredible how God uses the people He chooses? The study of the names and their meanings is also a fascinating one. Everything has so much more significance and points to the foreknowledge of God in all things! As a bonus for today, I have to share a little more about Urijah the priest. Yes, He served God's purposes at the time of Isaiah's prophecy. But, Urijah's loyalty to King Ahaz goes to the extreme after the prophecy against Damascus and Samaria is fulfilled.

The story unfolds in II Kings, Chapter 16. We have been here before, as this is where the alliance between King Ahaz and King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria is recorded. Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled as Tiglath-Pileser conquers both nations, saving Judah from the threat of her enemies. So, Ahaz meets the Assyrian king at Damascus following the wars. While there, Ahaz sees an incredible altar, most likely one of Assyrian design. In recognition of Tiglath-Pileser's conquest and to honor his new ally [god or idol!], Ahaz sketches a picture of the altar, taking down details and patterns so that Urijah, the priest, might create an identical one for the temple in Judah.

Though loyalty to the king is good in most other kingdoms, being the earthly spiritual leader and guardian of the temple, and not being loyal to God first pretty much negates any sense of true loyalty (especially when the king isn't loyal to God either!). But, Urijah obeys Ahaz and creates the altar. Then Ahaz further changes the temple order by moving the original bronze altar of the temple out and ordaining that Urijah make sacrifices on the newly created [Assyrian] altar. Ahaz takes the former bronze altar for his own private use, which, it is believed by scholars, likely meant sacrificing to the gods of his choosing depending on his needs at the time.

Can God use anyone to complete His purposes? He sure can! Ahaz wasn't the only one whom God used to fulfill His will. Let's not forget the baby of our story today. God used Him, too. When you begin to grasp how deeply God is involved in the things of this world, you might see Him working a bit more in your own life. I know I do!

God speaks further to Isaiah concerning the fall of these nations.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 8: 5-8

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Isaiah 7: 21-25

21 Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep;
22 and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey.
23 And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns.
24 People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns. 25 As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample.

In a day in America in which no issue is pricklier than the state of the economy, it is not surprising to see that it has been a hot topic since, oh, probably forever! Does God leave an imprint on a nation's economy? Today's verses closing out Isaiah, Chapter 7, certainly tell us so.

"And [because of the desolation brought on by the invaders] in that day, a man will [be so poor that he will] keep alive only a young milk cow and two sheep."
--Verse 21, Amplified Bible

Judah's primary economy in the days of Isaiah had been agricultural. Crops were grown in the lush, fertile lands. We recall "The Parable of the Vineyard" today, from Isaiah, Chapter 5, as we remember the nation's perfect conditions for the growing of grapes. A middle eastern "breadbasket," as well, if you will. But with the political and, ultimately, spiritual mistakes made by the nation, God would force a change of conditions.

"'So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard:
I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed;
I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste....For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one bath of wine, and a homer of seed will yield but an ephah of grain.'"
--Isaiah 5: 5, 6 and 10 (excerpts)

Judah's beautiful landscape would change from vineyards and farms to "briars and thorns." (vs. 23) Vines that used to be "valued at a thousand shekels of silver"--a year's rent, says commentator Matthew Henry--would now be trampled by "pasturing oxen and...sheep." (vs. 25) And, not great "pasturization" at that! It's the dregs from the once-overflowing Starbucks' cup. The crumbs in the plastic tray of Oreos that your kids should have thrown out instead of put back in the pantry. It's not even quite back-to-basics.

That cow and two sheep per remaining household in Judah needed to meet the needs of the whole household, which could have included not only children but extended family and servants of the has-been farm. Even in these times of desperation and desolation, God provided for those remaining, allowing the animals to produce enough milk for living:

"And because of the abundance of milk that they will give, he will eat butter and curds, for [only] butter and curds and [wild] honey [no vegetables] shall everyone eat who is left in the land [these products provided from the extensive pastures and the plentiful wild flowers upon which the bees depend]."
--Verse 22, Amplified Bible

I pulled out the Amplified Bible's version because of its expansion on what these pasture lands looked like. Note the reference to "bees." Last week, we revisited that bees were common to Assyria and are metaphorically mentioned in the Bible relating to the Assyrian Empire. The bees came at God's whistle to stake out positions in the ledges, cliffs and thorn bushes (Isaiah 7:19).

"The bees constructed their honeycomb and deposited their honey in holes in the ground; under rocks or in crevices between the rocks. They do the same today.... The Syrian bee is an especially hardy type and a good honey producer. It is carried to Europe and America for breeding purposes."

--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
In the midst of "bee-dlam," there was honey.

Besides the product, the tools for commerce also had to change with the land. The hoe (vs. 25)--more specifically, a weeding hoe or 'mattock,' as used in some translations--would be exchanged for "bows and arrows." (vs. 24) The tidy farmers had to become hunters, as there were no fields of crops to tend but plenty of wilderness upon which wild animals would graze. Matthew Henry takes the wild nature of things a step further:

"The whole land having become briers and thorns, the grounds that men used to come to with sickles and pruning-hooks to gather in the fruits they shall now come to with arrows and bows, to hunt for wild beasts in the thickets, or to defend themselves from the robbers that lurk in the bushes, seeking for prey, or to kill the serpents and venomous beasts that are hid there. This denotes a very sad change of the face of that pleasant land. But what melancholy change is there which sin will not make with a people?"
 --Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Always love how deep Matthew Henry makes me think! Do we see what happens when we allow the sin in our lives to take over? I know I personally understand the feeling of being in a wilderness, letting anxiety and loss of control be my "bows and arrows." Foolishness to be there, I know, especially when I have been witness to those times of joy and spiritual prosperity. Not that there won't be trouble and tough times. But do I want my heart to become as King Ahaz's--lost to asking for a sign, or accepting and trusting the Word of God for my own situation?

"And see what folly it is to set our hearts upon possessions of lands, be they ever so fruitful, ever so pleasant; if they lie ever so little neglected and uncultivated, or if they be abused by a wasteful careless heir or tenant, or the country be laid waste by war, they will soon become frightful deserts."
--Matthew Henry

"Damascus and Samaria Fall," as we open up Chapter 8 and God's Word through Isaiah is affirmed.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 8: 1-4

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Isaiah 7: 17-20


Trials to Come for Judah

17 The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria.
18 In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.  
19 They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places.
20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard.

Ahaz made his stand, God offered up deliverance for Israel through a coming child and, now, Judah stands to face trials in the face of its faithlessness. How bad? 

"...Days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah...." This refers to the separation of Israel, with 10 tribes forming the Northern Kingdom and the remaining the Southern Kingdom. But, as if that weren't bad enough, the trials would come at the hand of "the king of Assyria." (vs. 17)

Judah was like the old woman in the shoe--she had so many enemies, she didn't know what to do! So, she reached out to Assyria. King Ahaz must have figured that if he had the Assyrian Empire on his side, what enemy could stand? But, how to get Assyria on his side without turning Judah over completely.... Powerful leaders need powerful, persuasive presents! 

"So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, 'I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.' Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria."
--II Kings 16: 7 and 8
Tiglath-pileser does appear to have taken the gift sincerely, waging war on Damascus, taking its people into exile and killing Rezin. But the verses from this chapter today tell us that the bribe doesn't stick. God has humbled Judah, and Ahaz's plan isn't going to go down the way he thought.

Verse 18 brings us another look at an earlier reference in Isaiah: the fly and the bee [see blog on Isaiah 5:26], and the whistle. When the Lord whistles, there is a speedy sense of urgency to His call. Remember, it's like the tea kettle on high boil! He is calling to order the fly, common to Egypt, and the bee, common to Assyria, to be His armies putting the move on Judah. They will be prolific, filling in the region's heights and lowlands, thickets and secret crags (vs. 19).

"They shall come and rest in the low grounds like swarms of flies and bees, and shall render themselves impregnable by taking shelter in the holes of the rocks, as bees often do, and showing themselves formidable by appearing openly upon all thorns and all bushes; so generally shall the land be overspread with them."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Our last verse for today, verse 20, gives us yet another indication of God's hand in the trials to befall Judah, and it's holding a razor! God will "hire"--not in the literal sense--attackers to bring Judah down. He is orchestrating the circumstances and wooing the enemies, all to bring about His purposes. To understand the kind of terrible loss this will be for Judah, we have to understand something about shaving. In the culture, "shaving the head is a sign of mourning and a way of humiliating conquered enemies." [Reformation Study Bible] God isn't just talking about shaving the head here either. Note, He also says the hair from the legs and the beard.

Of course, when I hear razor and think Biblical stories, Samson is the first one that pops to mind. As a Nazirite, he took a vow not to cut his hair. He explains the razor's power--quite foolishly--to an eagerly waiting Delilah:

"'A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.'"
--Judges 16: 17

As with Samson, Judah would also become weak, humiliated and mournful. Samson had his eyes gorged out in his resulting weakness. Judah would examine its spiritual blindness in Babylonian exile--but, only after an invasion by the King of Assyria. Yes, Isaiah's prophecy would come to fulfillment, but not until the days of King Hezekiah. More on all this to come.

Finishing up with Chapter 7, as Isaiah describes the decimation of the land.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 7: 21-25

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).