In the first five chapters of Isaiah, we’ve surveyed the situation in which Isaiah brings messages from God. The Lord’s people had rebelled against Him, and so they were going to be exiled. Then in Chapter 6, we witnessed Isaiah’s call to ministry – how he saw the holiness of God and his own uncleanness. But God redeemed him and made him ready to serve.
Now in Chapter 7, we’re going to listen in on a specific message that God sent with Isaiah to a specific person: King Ahaz.
Context for Isaiah’s Message
In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it.– v. 1
You don’t need to be an expert in ancient history to receive the truths of this passage – but it is helpful to know a little about what’s going on. Assyria was threatening the kingdoms of Syria, Israel and Judah and so Syria and Israel decided to join forces. They wanted Judah to join too, but they wouldn’t. So Syria and Israel instead tried to conquer Judah and make them agree to an alliance.
This is the situation King Ahaz of Judah was facing. Syria, Israel and Assyria were all against him, and that’s why “the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (v. 2). But God sent Isaiah to meet Ahaz “at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field” (v. 3) to tell him:
“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.”– v. 4
The message from God to Ahaz was, “Shhh! Just calm down, don’t be afraid and don’t do anything rash.” Why? Because the forces of Syria and Israel were like smoldering stumps, like two charred pieces of wood. There was no real danger in them worth being afraid of.
God Reassures Ahaz
The first thing God wanted to tell Ahaz was to calm down. The second thing was that God Himself wasn’t going to allow Syria and Israel to succeed.
Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you … thus says the Lord God: “It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.”– vv. 5-7
Ahaz didn’t need to perform any heroic maneuvers or political alliances. He just needed to trust that God was telling the truth. Verses 8-9 outline the fate of Syria and Israel, reassuring Ahaz that he didn’t need to worry about them. But the fate of Judah was yet to be decided – it hinged on the fate of Ahaz. And Isaiah told him, “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” (v. 9).
The firmest alliance would have been flimsy compared to faith in God. Ahaz could have trusted in God and been okay, but he didn’t. Instead he joined forces with Syria and Israel, which ended up in disaster.
Trusting in God
What does this mean for us? God’s people were guilty of rebellion – they rebelled morally and in terms of their faith. The human condition apart from Christ is that we’re dead in disobedience and distrust of God. But, through the sacrifice of Jesus, we are restored to obey Him and trust Him.
From here, we have three points of application.
- Trust God when your circumstances seem dangerous and your heart shakes. Like Ahaz, we’ll face apparent danger. Loved ones will get sick, finances will fall through, people will get angry with us. For Christians, these trials are opportunities to sink our roots down into deeper faith in God.
- Trust God by taking Him at His word. Like Ahaz, we’re armed with God’s Word when we face difficulties in life. This is Christian faith: a determination to believe God’s Word over anything else. Don’t look for other sources of security besides God when life gets tough.
- Trust God alone. “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” You can be firm in every other way, but if you’re not firm in faith in God, you won’t be firm at all. Everything we put our trust in can be taken away except for God.
If you’re not a Christian, turn from your sin and go to Jesus. He will forgive you and give you a new heart so that you can obey and trust Him. Then we all as Christians will grow together, firming up as we trust God in the everyday practicalities of life.
- What is the context for Isaiah 7:1-9?
- Why did God through Isaiah tell Ahaz to be careful, quiet and not afraid?
- What do you turn to when life gets difficult or dangerous?
- What are some of God’s promises to us? If we trusted perfectly in God’s Word, how would these promises shape our lives?