Isaiah 7 & 8
1 Corinthians 16.1-24
Isaiah 7 & 8:
God’s warning shots
Here in chapter 7, Judah’s king, Ahaz had become discouraged because of attacks from Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Prophet Isaiah both comforted Ahaz and gave him and the nation a strong warning. He told him that the armies of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Syria would not prevail against him at that time, but because God knew they would not repent, but continue in their wicked ways, he warned him that God would eventually allow their destruction.
And although God through the Prophet warned them of coming disaster, He didn’t leave them without hope. He told them of the coming Messiah who would be born of a virgin (7.14), that the Messiah would be called “God with us” (7.14; Matt. 1.23), and gave other prophecies which would not be fully realized until the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.
Perhaps the planned attack by Israel and Syria was God’s “warning shot” meant to wake them up and see their need for Him and His protection. Could it be that America, too, has had a series of “warning shots”? 9-11? the banking crises? the housing market? the job situation? the economy in general? What will we do as a nation? Will we repent and turn back to God or will we continue on the path of rebellion against God? Will we seek God and His wisdom or will we continue to look to our mediums and wizards (8.19) (just watch the news and the cable networks and you’ll see that we call on every expert except the Expert!) and false messiahs (the Government, the Federal Reserve, politicians, etc.)? Chapter 8.19-20:
19 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
If our “experts” don’t give godly advice (“according to this word”), they are blind to truth (“there is no light in them”). Verses 21-22:
21 They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. 22 Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.
If we fail to seek God’s truth in our circumstances (the economy, etc.), it will only lead to further godlessness, darkness and despair (v. 22).
Even in the midst of darkness
The psalmist continues to recount the wonderful works of God. Do you ever stop to think about or even list the wonderful works of God in your life? Consider making a list of things for which you are thankful. Or try keeping a prayer journal where you, not only, list your requests, but answers to prayer, as well. Even in the midst of political or national crisis, God works in mighty ways in the lives of true believers as our reading in Isaiah 3 confirmed.
A frequent theme in Proverbs is a warning against laziness. Here Solomon warns that laziness eventually leads to poverty. We can be lazy in many different ways. One way is to be lazy spiritually by failing to pray and grow in our understanding of God and His truth.
Are you salty enough?
Besides general salutations and comments about specific leaders, Paul closes out this book with the admonition:
“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all you do be done with love” (vv. 13-14).
That admonition is for us, too.
We need to be watchful lest the blessings and religious freedoms we have are stolen right out from under us, but we also need to be watchful of our own hearts, that we love and pray even for those in opposition to us and that we not harden our hearts and become cynical.
“Stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” We are the salt, the preservative that keeps the hand of judgment from completely destroying our nation and the world. But Jesus said:
“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Lk. 14.34-35).
If we fail to be faithful, brave in the face of evil, and strong in Christ by relying on Him when we are weak or afraid, we will be useless and no longer the preservative. Without that preservative, what will hold back the hand of judgment on our nation?
In fact, it may already be too late for our nation as a whole. But God’s encouragement to His ancient people through Isaiah is true for us, too. They were to find hope in the coming of their Messiah and we are to find hope by looking forward to the second coming of our Messiah and His faithfulness in the meantime.
“Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22.20).
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