RPM, Volume 15, Number 51, December 15 to December 21, 2013

Immanuel the Redeemer

Isaiah 8:1-10

By D. Marion Clark


Here is an idea for the 34th Street wall. It will take up four panels, preferably the first four on the north side. Each panel would contain one word: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Then skip down to the last panel of the wall and write Immanuel! The whole wall would then convey the message of our passage, and in one sense, of all redemptive history.


We can divide our text into three sections based on the people who are being attacked by enemies: Damascus and Samaria-Israel, then Judah, then the Church. Let's look at the first section.

The LORD said to me, "Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 2 And I will call in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me."
3 Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, "Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4 Before the boy knows how to say 'My father' or 'My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria."


Does God know how to name a baby or what! Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. I bet he knew when he was in trouble. You know how parents will say the child's full name: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, come here!

If life wasn't bad enough for him, he had to have his name displayed much in the same manner I spoke of on the 34th Street wall.

The large scroll was probably a large tablet to be set up on public display. Uriah and Zechariah were to serve as "reliable witnesses," men that the people who trust and who could vouch that the prophecy belonged to Isaiah.

To make matters worse for the kid, his name meant "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil."
- Other kids get names like "God will save," which the meaning of Isaiah's name,
- or "a remnant will return," the meaning of his brother's name, Shear-Jashub.
- Maher's name signified destruction.

That was the message for Israel and Damascus.
- They would be destroyed by Assyria in the time it would take for the boy to speak.


Attention is then given to Judah.

5 The LORD spoke to me again:

6 "Because this people has rejected
the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoices over Rezin
and the son of Remaliah,
7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them
the mighty floodwaters of the River—
the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
run over all its banks
8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land,
O Immanuel!"

So verses 1-4 contain a prophecy that applies to the destruction of Israel and Damascus.
- Verses 5-8 speaks of what will happen to Judah.
- She will not be destroyed, through she will face ruin.

Verse 6 gives the reason for the ruin.
- the gently flowing waters of Shiloah is a stream that breaks off of the Jordan & feeds Jerusalem
- Shiloah represents the protection and nurture of the Lord.

By rejoices over Rezin (king of Damascus) and the son of Remaliah (king of Israel)
- Isaiah refers to how Judah rejoices over their destruction.
- Putting the whole verse together, we have image of Judah, represented by Ahaz,
- mocking the downfall of these two enemies by Assyria,
- thinking she outsmarted those nations by making allegiance with that pagan conqueror
- Her sin is pride and rebellion, which typically go hand in hand.

What is going to happen? Her political "partner" is going to devastate her.
- Assyria never conquers Jerusalem, but she does devastate the land up to the capital,
- and for the most part, the rest of Judah's kings survive
- by paying a burdensome tribute to Assyria's king.
- The only way that Judah ever gets out of Assyria's yoke
- is through Assyria's own downfall and the rise of another empire,
- Babylon, who takes over subjecting Judah to be a vassal nation. Thus,

7 therefore the Lord is about to bring against them
the mighty floodwaters of the River—
the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
run over all its banks
8 and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land,

Notice how the prophecy now is addressed to an individual, the child spoken of in 7:14
- The land of Judah is your land.
- What awaits Immanuel, when he comes, is an empty kingdom.
- That is the case for Jesus, when he comes.
- There is no divided kingdom of Israel and Jud, because the nation of Israel is destroyed.
- The land is again known as Israel to the Jews,
- but it is really become Palestine,
- a conquered land of the Roman Empire that Jews live in.

The Church

Isaiah, in my opinion, then shifts to another people, prodded by the reference to Immanuel. Attack will continue to come against God's nation, but this time all efforts will be thwarted.

9 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be
Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
10 Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.

For God is with us, is literally, "for Immanuel."
- All efforts to destroy God's people will fail because of Immanuel.
- This points again to 7:14 being fulfilled much later, i.e. in the coming of Jesus Christ.

God's people are often under attack, sometimes because of their own sins.
- Israel was destroyed for her rebellion against God.
- Judah came close, but because of God's covenant, - there has always remained a remnant.
- With the coming of Immanuel, that remnant grows into the church triumphant.
- God's nation becomes the peoples of the world who follow Immanuel.

The Lesson

Let's go back to our wall of signs.
- We started with Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz,
- the 4 panels that testified to the warfare that has always plagued mankind, including God's nation
- Men are always "quick to the plunder and swift to the spoil."
- We are always after what belongs to another, which is at the heart of war.
- From the time of Cain who was jealous of Abel to today
- we are quick to kill to take whatever it is we desire:
- land, money, the feeling of triumph.

And God's people are always under attack.
- Our enemy, Satan, is always against us. And he wages war against by both open attack and by subversion — turning us against one another and acting wickedly against the world. At times, "Assyria" seems to have flooded our land up to our head.

He floods us with attacks from the world, literally. The Islamic empire came close in the 7th & 8th centuries to conquering the Christian world. Japan effectively wiped out the church in the 1600s. Nevertheless, the church has continued to advance into all the nations.

The church is attacked for its beliefs and practices — for its exalted view of Christ, for the foolishness of the cross.

Sometimes Assyria has infiltrated us. Again and again we divide ourselves and turn against one another, sometimes violently. Church history is filled with schisms and even wars.

The "wolves" that scriptures warn us of, have come in and led many astray with false doctrine. In our particular day and society, "Christian" leaders deny the very gospel — rejecting Jesus' very work of atonement and resurrection, denying that he is Lord.

We are flooded with our own sins — our failures to remain morally pure, to faithful in our marriages, to avoid greed and ambition for power.

But whatever the attacks, our motto that holds us up time and again is "Immanuel!" God is with us! He is with us in the person of Jesus Christ.

God the Son became man and dwelt with us.
God the Son reigns over us and has sent his Spirit to dwell within us.

He is our hope.

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