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).

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