The Prophet Series: Isaiah part 5; chapter 8: the Cornerstone
Isaiah part 5, chapter 8: the Cornerstone
Many of the chapters in the Book of Isaiah stand alone. Chapters six through ten have to be dealt with individually in any article. It might therefore seem like getting through this great book will take forever, years at least. However, there are several sections of chapters that we can take at once. So, be of good courage, it won’t be that long, but also be patient. God inspired Isaiah in 66 chapters, and He intends for us to know it all. If you rushed through this book, you wouldn’t understand it. So, what is the point of that?
God instructs Isaiah to name his second son Maher-shalalhash-baz, which means “in making speed to spoil he hastens the prey.” The one speeding to the spoil is Assyria and the prey is Israel. Actually, both Israel and Syria, their neighbor to the north, understood the Assyrians to be a threat, but rather than turning to Yavah, they made a pact with each other thinking their combined strength would deliver them. The glaring message here is that deals with the world do not deliver, but covenants with God do.
Not only did the poor kid get this name (I’m sure he got a nickname - Baz or something), but also God instructed Isaiah to write his son’s name on a large tablet, sort of like a billboard, so that all the people would see it. You’re walking down the main road and upon a large sign you see, “The Assyrians are coming to eat you, soon!”
God’s word has always been around the world. We don’t have hardly any record of its presence outside of Israel before the time of the church, but I guarantee you, it was there. It doesn’t shout like the false religions or secular ideologies, but the still small voice of God has been, and always will be, everywhere.
Verses 5-8: You refuse the waters of peace.
"Inasmuch as these people have rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah, … Now therefore, behold, the Lord is about to bring on them the strong and abundant waters of the Euphrates,”
The Shiloah is a stream that flowed between the mounts of Moriah and Zion [Keil and Delitzesch]. The man born blind that Jesus healed was sent by Him to wash in a pool of this name in Joh 9, which name, John says, means “Sent.” The quietly flowing stream likely filled the pool of the same name within Jerusalem’s walls. It is pitted in contrast to the mighty Euphrates River which represents Assyrian and therefore the kingdoms of the world.
In our world the kingdoms boast of mighty power and wisdom. To the contrary, God represents Himself in the quietly flowing stream. The stream is “Sent” by God, as the Son of God was sent by God the Father. The Son offered peace in reconciliation with God through the Son’s own blood. Whosoever may enter that peace. The majority and the leadership in Israel rejected it. They rejected the quiet stream from God and so God will send the flood from the Euphrates to teach them the truth.
On one side of this stream is Moriah and the other Zion and to the north, at the foot of both is Golgotha. On these sights we read of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, David buying the threshing floor of Ornan, upon which Solomon would build the Temple, and Jesus Christ our Lord being sacrificed. These hills are the center of grace for the entire world and this little stream runs right through them. The lovely sound of the quiet stream is God offering His hand of grace.
This is My land!
Despite the apostasy of Israel, the coming slaughter, and the fact that the land will become a vassal to the Assyrians for many years, Isaiah calls it “the land of Immanuel.”
“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.”
Immanuel, “God with us,” will always possess this land. This and many other literal prophecies deny the false doctrine of replacement theology, which claims that all the promises made to Israel are null and void while metaphorically given to the church. Such doctrine is Christian anti-Semitism and is false. God owns this land and He will bring His people Israel back to it someday at the Second Coming of Christ.
“The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.” [While this verse applies to the kinsman redeemer in context, the fact that it is “My land” stands forever.]
Verses 9-15: Broken to pieces.
Israel will be broken to pieces and shattered. This fact will be recited in many prophecies through 23 chapters, Isa 13-35, an entire section of prophecy, mostly now fulfilled, dedicated to this judgment. In the words of the immortal Rod Serling, “That signpost up ahead,” couldn’t be any bigger and brighter.
Judah had made an alliance with Egypt and Assyria, and Israel with Syria. They made alliances with the world, which is something we must not do. Each of us must only rely upon the Lord for deliverance from all things. That doesn’t mean that we can’t receive help from people, but that ultimately all deliverance is in the Lord alone. That is the call to sanctify the Lord in our hearts.
“It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy.
And He shall be your fear,
And He shall be your dread.
Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
Rather than alliances with the world, we are to sanctify the Lord in our hearts. When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, it was this that He began:
“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.”
“Hallowed” is the Greek verb hagiazo, which means to set apart, sanctify, or make holy. It’s an aorist, passive, imperative - a command to God to receive the sanctification of His name. However, it is silly to command God, so it turns out to be a command to God that is really a command to yourself. “Sanctify Your name Father, but allow it to be so in my heart.”
The Father’s name, His essence, His character, all that He is, His virtue, His way, His plan, are all to be set apart in our hearts as the only good, the only life, and the only truth. His name is to be set apart from all earthly, temporal, and profane things, which things surround us every day in this life. God alone has shown us what is sacred and what is profane, and we must never mix them or transpose them. The world markets the profane as good and exciting, but within that crooked and perverse way, we sanctify His name and appear as lights to the world (PHI 2:15).
"Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Rather than choosing the Cornerstone for the building of the only house that will ever matter, Israel rejected it and built their own house. When the Lord came at the proper time and presented Himself to them, they stumbled yet again, and that time in the gravest way. They said that He was the cornerstone of Satan’s house, MAT 12:24.
If God had chosen someone else besides Abraham, say a man from Europe or Africa, then the people descended from whoever that man was would have done the same thing. Israel was a client nation unto God, but she was also one family that stayed together for over a thousand years, growing into large numbers. Whether is was Abraham’s family, King Tut’s family, or Agamemnon’s family, or whoever else that God had called and revealed Himself to, after time enough to grow into substantial numbers, each family would have been full of people who rejected God. God chose a people from whom to reveal Himself, as well as to reveal the condition of fallen man. Mankind is generally the same, no matter who his ancestor may be. I only say this because of the anti-Semitism that has plagued the world because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, a hatred of the Jews that has even come from within the Christian church and in some places, still does. God laid down His covenant, and the nation of Israel will stand as the center of all the earth and the envy of all the nations for a thousand years after the Second Coming of Christ. God also laid down in that covenant:
“And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Don’t be deceived by replacement theology or any other so-called justification of anti-Semitism.
Verses 16-22: “Bind up the testimony.”
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
The message to the remnant, the minority of believers in the nation/family, is that they keep the testimony, or the Word of God, bound up in their hearts. Many of the remnant are about to suffer with the rest of them. The Assyrians aren’t going to much care which Jew loves Yavah and which doesn’t. They are going to brutalize them all. We imagine that God would give them some kind of reprieve or relief that the wicked wouldn’t enjoy, but we don’t know that for sure. Surely they will not be immune. God bids them to hold on to His Word and to hold it fast.
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Beware the false teachers:
The final portion of the chapter is a warning against listening to the false prophets and teachers, which at this time were often diviners and necromancers. God says, “Should you consult the dead about the living?” So simple and so clear, and yet still neglected is this warning against deep stupidity.
God depicts false teachers as without morning, or in perpetual darkness. He describes them this way again in the first epistle of John, 1JO 1:6; 2:9, 11. In John’s day, it wasn’t necromancers that were plaguing the churches but Gnostics and Judiazers, but while the type of false teaching may change, the goal is always the same - to draw people into their darkness.
We are in the midst of a war between life and death, as well as light and darkness. The believer has Christ’s life and is Christ’s light. Don’t put yourself in the basement or under a basket, LUK 11:33. With the courage of Isaiah, let the people of this world see your good works and glorify God.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
To Him be the glory, forever and ever.
Pastor Joe Sugrue