Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Confident Faith

Isaiah 7:4,9

Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood— because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.
The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son.
If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’"
("If you don't believe then neither will you understand at all" LXX)

God Disciplines Judah

Ahaz, the king of Judah, was in need of discipline.

2Kings 16:2-4
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.

Here's also another interesting bit of trivia. The renowned Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz, and it is written:
2 Chronicles 29:1  Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. Now work out the math. Ahaz was 20 years old when he began his reign and reigned 16 years. So he ended his reigned at 36 when Hezekiah his son who was 25 started to reign. That would mean that Ahaz had a son when he was only 11 years old!
It was written that because of his misbehavior: "Therefore the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus. He was also given into the hands of the king of Israel, who inflicted heavy casualties on him.  In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah— because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers." 2Chr 28:5,6 And so also: In those days the LORD began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah against Judah. 2Kings 15:37

But his purpose was not to destroy Judah, but to disciple them unto repentance.

2Chr 28:19-22
 The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the LORD.  Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help.  Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him.  In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD.

God will used wicked men, even Satan, to discipline his people. However as will be the case for the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and in this case Israel and Syria who go far beyond the 40 lashes (Deut 25:3) and abuse their position, God will bring even harsher judgment upon such people even though He had used them as instruments for discipline.

For example notice 2Chr 28:6-11
6  In one day Pekah son of Remaliah killed a hundred and twenty thousand soldiers in Judah— because Judah had forsaken the LORD, the God of their fathers.
9  But a prophet of the LORD named Oded was there, and he went out to meet the army when it returned to Samaria. He said to them, "Because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven.
10  And now you intend to make the men and women of Judah and Jerusalem your slaves. But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God?
11  Now listen to me! Send back your fellow countrymen you have taken as prisoners, for the LORD’s fierce anger rests on you."

Grace in the midst of discipline

In view of the fact that it was the Lord who was sending Israel and Syria against Judah, what accounts for God's exhortation in Isaiah 7:4 where he instructs Ahaz, "Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood— because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah."? I think we can understand this in a similar sense as Hebrews 12:5-6 you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Ahaz should fear God and not simply fear God's instruments of discipline. Furthermore this also speaks to the kings of Israel and Syria reminding them that God is in charge and that they should not be proud as if they gained victory on their own. Thus even when we are doing God's will God will cause us to experience failure and humiliation at times to remind us of his sovereignty. Proverbs 21:31 "The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD."

Confident Faith

Isaiah 7:9b in the Hebrew text reads, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." It is written in Hebrews 3:14 "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." And So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" Heb 13:6 But Ahaz failed to put his confidence in God.

Or if we go by the Septuagint Isaiah 7:9b reads "If you don't believe then neither will you understand at all" Which somewhat alludes back to Isaiah 6:9,10 "Go and tell this people: "‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Ahaz had hardened his heart and thus what Isaiah told him simply went in one ear and out the other. He didn't grasp the meaning, the relevance or the application. Such is the case for many who hear the Bible, even in the Christian community. If we truly believe then we will understand and apply the Word. Hebrews 4:2 "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith."

Ahaz calls on Assyria rather than calling on the Lord

2Kings 16:7,8
Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, "I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me." And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria.

Who are you calling on to save you out of your circumstances?


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015