Day 232: A swirling symphony

Isaiah 7-9; Romans 13

Before we dig into the text, we need to understand more about the book of Isaiah as a whole…

Isaiah can be divided into three sections:

  1. Chapters 1-39: Written for Isaiah’s contemporaries, the rebellious people living in Judah under the Assyrian threat (during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah). They were tempted to look to political saviors instead of to God.
  2. Chapters 40-55: Looked beyond the future destruction of Jerusalem and was written for the remnant of Jews living as exiles in Babylon.
  3. Chapters 56-66: Looked even further forward in time and was written for the restored Jews including all people until the end (which includes us!)

Isaiah 7-9 is part of a larger section (that will conclude tomorrow) that is written in the context of the military threat against Judah from neighboring Israel and Syria (2 Kings 16). Isaiah comes to king Ahaz of Judah and exhorts him to trust in God – even encouraging him to ask for a sign, but Ahaz refuses, and instead turns to Assyria to rescue him from the hands of Syria and Israel.

God, in his grace, gives a sign anyway (7:14-15). He promises that after the birth of a certain boy, and before the boy reaches the age to discern right from wrong, both Syria and Israel will be conquered (7:17). God’s word proves true, but even though the imminent threat to Judah is averted, Ahaz’s sin of looking to Assyria instead of to the Lord will bring about a greater future threat – in the form of Assyria, itself (7:7:17-18)!

…behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel (Isaiah 8:7-8).

Here Isaiah predicts Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah (2 Kings 18:13 – 19:37). He took all of Judah except Jerusalem. Do you notice how the nations are like puppets in the hand of God?! Romans 13 alludes to God’s sovereignty over rulers as both his instruments of blessing and of judgment. Even the great and mighty Assyria was subject to God’s will!

Just after Isaiah predicts Sennacherib’s invasion, he looks forward to the day when God will execute justice over all the nations (8:9-10) and establish and uphold David’s throne with justice and righteousness forever (9:7)!

What makes the book of Isaiah so beautiful (and complicated) is that he weaves the present with the future so seamlessly. Judah’s tragic choice of a political savior forces Isaiah’s eyes forward – first to judgment through the Assyrian army and then further forward in time to how God will save the faithful remnant of Israel!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Isaiah’s work is a symphony of words swirling into the climax of the saving work of Jesus and the restoration of all that is good and right! I think our time in Isaiah is going to be rich :)

One thought on “Day 232: A swirling symphony

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