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©Copyright January 30, 2022 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche
What is required before you can trust somebody with your deepest secrets and your most difficult trials in life?
Do you need to see a consistency over the course of time?
Trust is important but it is given reluctantly and can be lost in an instant.
Today we move into a new section of the book of Isaiah.
In chapters 7-39 we see a number of the judgments of God on the local nations and on Israel.
The issue over all these chapters is trust: “Who will you trust?”
These pepole are judged because of their unwillingness to turn and trust the One who made the world.
We will jump around a bit in these chapters, however, it is important to see the big picture.
These judgments are bookended by two historical events.
The first event (which we will look at today) is a time God told a King (Ahaz) not to worry about external threats and Ahaz ignored God and compounded his problems.
The last account speaks of Hezekiah and illustrates what happens when a King is willing to trust God.
In between these accounts God judges specific nations (chap 13-23); Judges the entire earth (24-27) and then judges Israel (28-35).
This morning we look at the first part of the story of Ahaz.
Ahaz was the grandson of Uzziah whom we learned about last week.
He was the son of Jotham who reigned for likely 11 years with his dad and then for another 5 years on his own.
At this time, Israel was divided into two parts, a northern and a southern kingdom.
The northern kingdom was called “Israel” and the southern Kingdom was called “Judah.”
It is important to keep this in mind, otherwise the story will not make much sense to you.
Ahaz was the king over Judah.
Listen to what 2 Chronicles 28 tells us about Ahaz,
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years.
He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done. 2 Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel.
He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. 3 He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire.
In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 4 He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.
(2 Chronicles 28:1-4)
That’s all the introduction we need so let’s look at Isaiah 7,
When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem.
However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
2 The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!”
So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
A Threatened Crisis
There were some major events in the world at this time that help us understand the circumstances a little better.
The Assyrian Empire was growing.
Because Syria and Israel (the Northern tribes) were closer to Assyria they were prime targets for the Assyrians to gobble up.
The Kings of Syria and Israel wanted to make a united stand and wanted Judah (Ahaz) to join them.
When Judah declined, they thought they would attack Judah and put in their own King who would align with them.
Ahaz felt he was no match for these two armies.
He was afraid.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz.
You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.
4 Tell him to stop worrying.
Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah.
5 Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, 6 ‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves.
Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’
7 But this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“This invasion will never happen;
it will never take place;
8 for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus,
and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin.
As for Israel, within sixty-five years
it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9 Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria,
and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah.
Unless your faith is firm,
I cannot make you stand firm.”
It is uncertain why Isaiah was to bring his son with him to the aqueduct to meet Ahaz.
Most likely Ahaz was there checking the water supply of the city.
Armies would often put a city under siege (in other words no one and nothing (like supplies) came in and nothing went out.)
If an invading army could get hold of the water supply the siege would not last long.
Isaiah passed on a message from the Lord: The English Standard Version says,
4 And say to 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.
Notice the four imperatives: Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart faint (or be discouraged).
In other words its is as if he was saying
· Stop and reflect
· Listen to the Lord
· Stop being afraid
· Be Courageous
The wisdom of such words is self-evident.
Isaiah told Ahaz that God said, the invasion was NOT going to happen and that these two Kings were not going to last.
Both of those nations would fall.
The end of verse nine is the key: “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand.”
This is like trying to help someone stand up who doesn’t want to stand.
They make their legs rubbery and fight you all the way.
No matter how well intentioned or capable you are, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
You can’t help someone who isn’t willing to trust that you can help them.
God was willing to help Ahaz but not unless He was willing to be helped.
The same is true for us.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says,
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take
The Lord promises to protect His people but . . .
His people need to trust Him.
He wants us to see His sufficiency for every need.
He wants us to trust in His strength rather than our schemes.
Is this not a major issue in our own lives?
If life doesn’t go the way we expect it to we panic and despair.
God says, “Trust me.
Trust my wisdom, my power and my sufficiency.
Trust my love for you.”
Perhaps finances are tight or the demands of your life are overwhelming you, and Jesus says, “Seek God’s Kingdom first and I will take care of the other things.”
But what do we do?
We come up with plans and schemes to figure out how we can pull ourselves out of the situation.
We try to fix things in our own strength.
The result, at best, is the crisis doesn’t get worse.
Why? God is waiting for you to trust and rely on Him.
Ray Ortlund helps us see what is going on with greater clarity,
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