When the Good News is Bad News
When the Good News is Bad News, a very complex message from the Lord to Judah through Ahaz
When God presents you with a test of your faith, when the two enemies you can see invade your country, there are two options. Respond to the LORD who is present but invisible or react to the threat that is visible. Responding to the LORD does not mean you go hide in your prayer closet, but rather in this age, it means you act by means of the Holy Spirit within the dictates of the Word as you understand it from the teaching of the Spirit. The answer to the crisis Ahaz experienced began with TRUST THE LORD—Isaiah’s name was the message he should have believed, "The LORD is my Salvation."
The Doctrine: Immanence
- The reason for the Doctrine: When God presents you with a test of your faith, there will be the right decision and the wrong decision—that’s why it’s a test. The Bible presents the anatomy of such a decision is the story of Isaiah chapters ch 6-10. Don’t miss the real-world significance to your experience! When God sends Rezin and Pekah to depose you, so to speak, the answer is not to seek human solutions. Not by your strength will the problem find resolution but only by God’s strength. The key to this kind of thinking is the principle of the immanence of God. He is with you. He is present in you, in fact. He has ordered history to your benefit, to your blessing.
- The Doctrine: Immanence: “God is everywhere present within creation, sustaining it by His presence yet unconfused with it.” --J. Scott Horrell
- Scripture References: 1 Ki 8:27; Jer 23:23-24; Ps 139:7-8; Acts 17:28; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3.
- 1.If immanence expresses God’s presence in creation, then transcendence expresses God’s separation in nature and substance from creation.
- 2.To overemphasize immanence is to promote pantheism or panentheism, two pagan conjectures about God.
- 3.To overemphasize transcendence is to promote a deistic approach to our relationship with God.
- 4.We have this doctrine for our encouragement in rapport with God.
- The application: God is personally present. Rezin and Pekah are at the door. That’s an important piece of information. But there’s something far more important that will contextualize that statement: God is present. Place faithfulness next to immanency. He’s here, and He’s on my side because I belong to Him!
This is the essential calculation you need to think through in the crisis. He who in you is greater than He who is in the world. 1Jn 4:4.
Notes on Isaiah 7-8
It seems that the structure of the prophetic oracles is not accidental. There are certain structural cues which help, like “and the LORD added to speak to me further saying” in Is 7:10 and 8:5.
- A: Is 7:1-9: Prophecy in the “indicative” with promise about invasion of Rezin and Pekah and warning regarding unbelief and destruction.
- B: Is 7:10: YASAPH formula, the LORD to Ahaz
- C: Is 7:11-25: Prophecy in sign form, specifically judgment for unbelief is prophesied. Immanu El focal
- C’: Is 8:1-4: Prophecy in sign form, fulfillment of promise regarding Rezin and Pekah
- B’: Is 8:5: YASAPH formula, the LORD to Isaiah
- A’: Is 8:6-10: Prophecy in “indicative”—Destruction with Immanu El explained
This passage is VERY COMPLEX in its references.
The signs are saying the same things about the near term threat of Rezin and Pekah, but the Immanu El prophecy in 7:14 is mysterious and distinct from the near term statement in vv15-16. The signs of the boy eating curds and honey and Maher Shalal Hash Baz are for near term fulfillment of the promise in 7:7 about the plans of Rezin and Pekah, “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass.” However the sign of the virgin birth of Immanu El is itself a judgment for unbelief in 7:9, “If you do not believe, you will not be established.” That judgment of the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant apart from Achaz’ line echoes with the Immanu El of 8:8 and 10. What’s the point? For many, the good news will be bad news! The Assyrians are coming! The Assyrians are coming! When they get here and tear us apart we can say, “God is With Us,” because He has brought this rod of correction. The Assyrians, however, can say “God is With Us” as they advance, because He is using them as His instrument.
Conclusion: Immanence is always true.
God is always present. God being for us, who can be against us is always true. The sad reality of most of our experience is that we do not think in terms of God's presence, for us so often Immanu El is bad news because we are so given to rebellion against Him. When the Lord, who is with us in presence and in desire offers a challenge for our faith, the choice is clear.