What is in a Name?
A little history surrounding the preaching of Isaiah.
The Kingdom of Israel has split. After Soloman died, the nation was divided. God was sending prophets to both kingdoms. The northern kingdom was made up of ten of the tribes. At this point, Ephraim is the largest of the tribes and His name is sometimes used to designate this part of the kingdom in the north.
In the south, Judah and Benjamin make up the remainder of the descendents of Abraham. And it is called Judah because the kings come from this tribe and it is the larger of the two.
The northern kingdom has set up altars to God, but many of the people, without godly leaders have turned to other gods, the gods of the peoples around them.
The southern kingdom has the temple and the priests, but they are not much better. They too have listened to those who led them away from the worship of God.
The prophets were called by God to call the people of both kingdoms back to God.
At this time, the northern kingdom, usually called Israel has sought the aid of Syria, also known as Aram, whose capital was Damascus, to help them to conquer the southern kingdom.
Isaiah, preaching primarily to the southern kingdom tells them in these two chapters that the northern kingdom's efforts will fail. They have allied themselves with Assyria. Assyria will eventually come in and conquer the northern kingdom and their allies, the Syrians.
One of the methods God and Isaiah use to speak to the people of God is to draw their attention to certain prophecies by naming his children to remind them of the truths he is teaching.
What is in a name?
Read with me the first part of Isaiah 7:
1 Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram (or Syria) and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel (Northern kingdom), went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it. 2 When it was reported to the house of David, saying, "The Arameans have camped in Ephraim (Largest tribe of Northern kingdom)," his (Pekah, king in the Southern kingdom)... his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller's field, 4 and say to him,' Take care, and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram, and the son of Remaliah. 5 'Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, 6 "Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it," 7 thus says the Lord God, "It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. 8 "For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), 9 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. "'"
The word of God to the king of Judah in the south of Israel is that they need not fear. This attack shall ultimately fail. Within another 65 years the northern kingdom will be shattered so that is is no longer a people. This was to fulfill God's statements to the children of Israel when they first returned from captivity in Egypt. If you follow God, you will be blessed. If you refuse to serve Him you will die. And the nation will be taken into captivity.
Why do you suppose God told Isaiah to take his son with him when he went to deliver this message? His son's name was Shear-jashub. Do you have any idea what that name means? It means: “A remnant shall return”. Last week we saw this idea begin to be developed in Isaiah's preaching. A remnant shall return. God has always had a people who love and trust Him.
In Isaiah's time God's people are shaking with fear. God tells them that the attack against them will fail. The message is to put your trust in God. You can believe Him. He will not fail.
10 Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 "Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven." 12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!" 13 Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 "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. 15 "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” NASB
Does anyone know what the name Immanuel means? I thought you might. Of course, it means “God with us”.
God tells Ahaz (the king in Judah, the southern kingdom), to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses to do so claiming it is because he does not want to test the Lord. Isaiah indicates that by refusing he is trying the patience of God and God gives him a sign anyway. A son would be born to a young woman and he would be called Immanuel.
This sign is of particular interest to us. We know that God used this prophecy in the New Testament. It is one of the passages seen by the New Testament writers as a prophetic message of the coming of the Messiah.
Those of us at the service at Rippling Waters on Wednesday were reminded of the importance of the teaching that Jesus was born of a virgin, that the birth of Jesus was wrought by God Himself. He was not conceived by man, but by the miraculous working of God. This passage in Isaiah was seen as a foretelling of that event by the writers of the New Testament. God became a man.
The fulfillment of this prophecy was two fold. It does indeed tell of the coming of the Messiah. It also told Ahaz in Isaiah's time that before a child born at that time would grow to the point that he was eating curds and honey and knew the difference between right and wrong, the two nations causing him and his people grief would be destroyed by another nation, Assyria.
It was not unusual for prophecies to have a two-fold fulfillment. One that concerned the people at the time of the prophecy and another fulfillment for God's people at a later time.
The word translated “virgin” could also mean a young woman. It is translated that way in some versions. The New Testament writers make it clear that Mary was with child and had no relations with a man to bring this about. God performed a miracle to bring to earth His Only Begotten Son who would die to save anyone who put their faith in Him. God became a man on the day that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary. Jesus came into the world to die for the sin of mankind. Someone had to die to make it possible for us to be restored to a relationship with God. God came to earth to die for us. There is no one else that can save us. If we are to have a relationship with God it must be on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus, Immanuel, the Only Begotten Son of God.
For Ahaz, the more immediate truth was that, if he trusted God, his kingdom, for the time being, would be spared from destruction.
God would use Assyria to destroy Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel. Actually, here in chapter 7 Isaiah predicts that Assyria would also turn against the southern kingdom. All but the city of Jerusalem , the capital city, would be destroyed by their allies.
Pick up reading in verse 17:
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 And it will come about in that day, that 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 And 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.
21 Now it will come about in that day that a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep; 22 and it will happen that 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 And 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. NASB
After destroying Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel, as Isaiah told Ahaz, Assyria and Egypt all but destroyed the southern kingdom as well.
God loves us, but He insists on being Lord. For believers that is a good thing. For those who refuse to accept Him and trust Him, it is not so good.
God loves us and He wants no one to miss out on His love. He will not, however, give up His Lordship and if we are to be saved, it must be by accepting Him as Lord and Savior.
Calling Him Lord is not enough. We must study to show ourselves to be approved workmen who bring honor and glory to our God. He must be Lord. That was true for Ahaz and it is true for us today. God will not allow us to go our own way. It is by following Him and obeying Him that we demonstrate our love for and trust in Him.
If you have not chosen to love and trust God, you have an opportunity to do so today. Come and lay your burden and your sin on the altar and seek God above all else. Trust God. Seek God. Love God.
What is in a name? The name Jesus means Jehovah Saves. He will save you. Just surrender to Him and allow Him to love you.