Hope (Isaiah 6-9)
The times in which we live are not unlike other times, though we often mistakenly assume they are because of pride or a lack of historical knowledge. The fact is, God has always been an unchanging constant, and humankind from the time of Adam’s awful fall has always been sinful. Measuring ourselves against the only real constant, which is God Himself, apart from Christ we have been miserable wretches who have loved self and hated God from the time of our original attempt to usurp His kingship. Remembering the truth that God has always been constant and faithful and man has always been wretched and sinful, we find applicable truths for today as we look back on the life and ministry of Isaiah.
Isaiah comes face to face with the living Christ, who is seated in the heavens and worshiped incessantly by the angels. He is then sent as the Lord’s prophet to His people, and while we might expect a great and successful ministry after such an encounter with the Lord, Isaiah is not promised such smooth success. Instead he is promised a failing and fledgeling ministry at best. He will speak and proclaim the message of God, but the people will not perceive or understand because of their hard hearts (verses 9-10). However, though the assignment is difficult, Isaiah unflinchingly accepts the Lord’s call. The call on his life is based on God and His purposes, and not on Isaiah’s own desires. He had met God face to face, experienced His mercy, and now gladly accepts His commission.
– Why was Isaiah able to accept the mission God gave him with such eagerness, even though he knew it was not going to be easy? What are some of the tasks in your life in which you find difficult to be obedient? How should the pattern seen in Isaiah 6 affect your response?
The enemies of God’s people are closing in, causing the hearts of the people to shake like trees in the wind (verse 2). In the midst of the dark circumstances, Isaiah is sent to encourage them, assuring them that the plans of their enemies will not stand (verses 7, 9). God promises the enemy’s demise and offers a sign to His people. He says that a son will be born to a virgin, and His name will be Immanuel, or “God with us” (verse 14). The promise is ultimately that God Himself will come down and conquer all their enemies. He continues with the promise, assuring them that He would raise up other nations to conquer their present enemies. It is a reminder that nations are lifted up and cast down at the bidding of the sovereign Lord; He is in control. The destruction of Judah’s enemies would serve as a warning for them to repent, or suffer at the hands of the new enemies that God has raised up.
– Is there anything in your life now that is causing your heart to shake like a tree in the wind? How are you responding to your fears? What comfort does it bring to your heart to know that God Himself has and will ultimately conquer all of our enemies?
God’s people reject His offer of peace, and war eventually ensues as God will raise up the Assyrians to discipline His people (verses 6-8). Still, a mocking call goes out to God’s enemies reminding them that their plans will not last and assuring them once again that He is the one in control (verse 9-10). The Lord warns Isaiah not to be shocked or taken off guard by the things going on in the world, since it is God who rules over all things (verses 11-15). Things seem to be getting worse and worse for God’s people in the days of Isaiah, but he should not credit the world. Instead He should recognize that it is God that is in control over all and is accomplishing all His good purposes.
– Are you surprised by the things that you are seeing in the world around you? How does God’s warning to Isaiah in verses 11-15 apply to your own current situation?
It is on this black canvas of a grim reality that Isaiah splashes the breathtaking portrait of the Lord of light. He assures them that darkness does not mean hopelessness and speaks of a day when there will be no more gloom for those who now walk in darkness. The basis for their hope is: “A child will be born to us” (verse 6). Misplaced hope for the nation of Israel led to hopelessness, and the same is true for us in our own lives. Isaiah doesn’t leave it as a vague hope, but tells us what His name is (verse 6). God’s name is not just a label, but it is Who He is. The foundation of our hope is found in His name, the character of our God. His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, able to order and orchestrate all things based on His own perfect knowledge and goodness. His name will be called Mighty God, possessing infinite, eternal, incomprehensible power that is never frustrated or restrained by any creature. The power He possesses is the creating power, sustaining power, redeeming power, sanctifying power, and resurrecting power of God. His name will be called Eternal Father, being of eternal and infinite nature without any mutation, alteration, variation, or fluctuation. His name will be called Prince of Peace, as the One utilizing all of His wisdom, might, and infinitude toward orchestrating everlasting peace for His people! Rejection of who He is results in war and enmity. Hope, peace, and joy result from bowing humbly before Him in submission, worship, obedience, and love.
– What are some other names ascribed to God in the Scriptures? What do they tell us about who He is? What encouragement and hope do they give us as His beloved people?