Well, I understand that those of you in the midwest and the south (Texas, in particular) are welcoming a break from the heat. Yeah, for September! Yeah, for the Lord who blesses us with changes in seasons!
But on to less seasonal things. Let’s take a look at what God is saying to us today through Isaiah.
“and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” Isaiah 7:9 — This verse is the latter part of a larger statement from God promising protection from Samaria and Syria. The part I wanted to emphasize and throw out for meditation is this last sentence, “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” It’s true for us today, too. There are lots of promises that God has made to us as Christians that are meant to help us last — have hope, keep enduring, triumph over discouragements, find comfort in times of sorrow, keep going when everyone else has turned away. And they all depend on our faith in the God who made the promises. Reading the Bible daily is one way to strengthen that faith, but there are others: church attendance, fellowship, paying attention to answered prayer, and Bible study with others. What helps your faith? Maybe others could benefit from what you suggest.
““Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. “He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” Isaiah 7:14-16 — This is a double prophecy. It’s part of the same context as the passage just above; God is giving a sign, so that Ahaz’s faith will be strengthened and his fears assuaged. The first fulfillment of the prophecy happened during Ahaz’s own time, a child was born of a young woman (not a virgin, but a young woman) and they named him Immanuel, “God is with us”. Ahaz’s faith in God, however, wasn’t strong to begin with, and it failed him; and his fears paved the way to make Judah a vassal kingdom to Assyria. But the secondary fulfillment of this prophecy is the one we remember — a prophecy of the Messiah, born of a virgin, who was physically “God is with us”, and whose Kingdom is forever. Notice how these double prophecies work; it is far from the last time we’ll see them in this book, in the Old Testament, or even in the New Testament.
“When they say to you, ‘Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” Isaiah 8:19, 20 — Where should we look for our spiritual information? There still are a lot of folks who seek info from the dead or some other source than the God of the Bible: Mohammed, Buddha, new age religionists, philosophers, and their own hearts. But to these people God constantly points back to the truth: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.”
“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.” Isaiah 9:1, 2 — This is a Messianic prophecy speaking of the time when 1) the Gentiles who live in darkness will no longer be left out, but be enlightened with God’s word and 2) points to the area in particular when that great light would be located in the Galilee region. Who among the Jews would have thought it? But that’s typical for God, zigging when the rest of the world is expecting a zag — which is something to think about. You are probably a valuable “zig” in God’s toolbox, when the whole world is expecting the “zag” (e.g., Max Lucado, Billy Graham, etc.) to make the difference — so be God’s “zig” (not your own) and see what God will do through you.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” Isaiah 9:6, 7 — This a continuation of the Messianic prophecy above, and there’s enough here to fill a book. What I’d like to dwell on for a minute here are the names: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Two of the names declare Jesus’ divinity — an irrefutable argument against those religions of Christendom that inexplicably deny Jesus’ divinity (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses). One deals with the Messiah’s great counsel — and indeed the positive, hopeful, sensible, moral difference that following His counsel gives is wonder-filled!
“For those who guide this people are leading them astray; And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.” Isaiah 9:16 — When you read the larger context (as you always should), you find that this verse is a stern condemnation of Judah’s and Israel’s leaders and prophets who steadfastly guided the people away from God. Perhaps they thought that if they said “good is bad” (see Isaiah 5:20-23), it would make it right. It didn’t then, it doesn’t now; it never will. Leaders, teachers, preachers, elders, parents: be careful.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.