:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 7:10-25

Isaiah Chapter 7:10-25
vs. 10-12

- “Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”

- God loves to reveal Himself to willing hearts. Here's Ahaz... an evil king. A man who is NOT seeking after God's heart... and yet God still longs to show Ahaz Who He is. So He gives Ahaz the opportunity to prove Him. “This is your chance! I'll do whatever you want me to do! And in doing so, I will prove myself to your heart!”

- Instead of following God's direction... or even instead of accepting God's challenge... Ahaz refuses.

- “No, I will not test the Lord like that.”

- Now, I understand not wanting to test God... in fact we are told in Matthew 4 and in Deuteronomy 6; “You must not test the Lord your God.”

- So, I can understand Ahaz NOT wanting to test God... for all he knew, the prophet was trying to get the king struck down...

- However, in Malachi 3:10, we have an example of God asking His people to put Him to the test. “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven's Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

- God wants us to see His worth, His truth, His righteousness, His faithfulness. Sometimes in order to prove Himself to us, He will ask us to test Him with something... and that means trusting that He'll come through for us.

- Ahaz was given that opportunity. God said, “This is what I'll do... Let me prove myself to you! Test me! Ask me anything you want and I'll answer you!”

- And Ahaz... refuses. Why? Well... maybe out of fear of it being a trick... on God's part or on the prophets part...

- Or maybe... Ahaz, who'd spent his life growing up under the tutelage of a Godly grandfather and father... KNEW truth... and KNEW that God would indeed prove Himself... But then... He wouldn't have ANY excuse for chasing after his idols and his evil ways. He would have maybe felt compelled to follow God... or maybe felt like he now owed God something of himself. So... he didn't want God to prove Himself... because it would give him a conscience concerning his sin...

- John 6:22-40

vs. 13-16

- “Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn't it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord Himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us'). By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.”

- footnote- “Virgin is translated from a Hebrew word used for an unmarried woman who is old enough to be married, one who is sexually mature.....It is more likely that this prophecy had a double fulfillment.
(1) A young woman from the house of Ahaz who was not married would marry and have a son. Before three years had passed (one year for pregnancy and two for the child to be old enough to talk), the two invading kings would be destroyed.
(2) Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show a further fulfillment of this prophecy in that a virgin named Mary conceived and bore a son, Immanuel, the Christ.”

- Ahaz refused to ask for a sign... so God decided to give him a sign anyway.

- Poor Isaiah... he sounds so frustrated here. His patience with this king is just about exhausted. He's trying his hardest to make him see the light... and Ahaz just keeps shutting his eyes or blocking him out.

- Sometimes we meet people in our lives like that. They don't want to know Truth. They don't want to be faced with their need for a savior. They want to live their lives as they please. They don't want to have someone prick their consciences.

- So here stands Isaiah... trying to do what God has asked him to do... and getting the door slammed in his face time after time.

- When we meet with situations like this... where God has asked us to speak to someone, or do something... and our goal is constantly set back because of circumstances... we cannot lose heart. We cannot give up. Even when the road gets rocky... we have to keep pressing on. If God asks us to go, He'll prepare us for the way...

- My pastor used to talk about the relentless love of God. God never stops loving people. He never stops pursuing their hearts. so... neither should we.

- My grandparents have a funny story about how they started dating... My grandfather decided that this was the woman for him. So he went to her house to pick her up. And she hid on the back porch roof so that the family could tell him she wasn't in the house...

- A couple of times she did this... she was determined that she was NOT going to go out with this man. Well... he was just as determined that she WAS going to go out with him. So one night, he finally parked his car along the road and sneaked up to the house. She was inside the house watering plants. He sneaked up to the window and then popped up when she got close to him and said “well, you're home... So can I take you out tonight?” She screamed and threw her water pot straight up in the air... lol

- But you know what? They've been married for over 50 years... persistence paid off...

- God is like that. He sees our hearts... and He wants us for His own. He wants us to love Him. So He goes after us. Time and time again.

- Since we are the body of Christ... sometimes that means that WE have to go after people for God. Time and time again, we have to go speak the love of Christ to them. Even when they turn us away.

- Dad reminded us of a story about my pastor the other night... He was going to talk to this old guy all the time. He was bed fast... and pretty ill. He was extremely bitter against God. Didn't want anything to do with Him.

- So Doug would go and talk to him about things... and always brought it back around to his need for God.

- So this one day, his daughter popped in to say “Dad, you have a visitor”. And he said “It's not that damn preacher again is it?” And Doug popped his head around the corner and said “Yep, it's that damn preacher...” and pulled up a chair and started talking with him again.

- Because Doug was persistent in his love for this man... He eventually did give his heart to God before he died. Doug didn't walk away when the guy asked him to. He didn't give up after one time of getting told that he wasn't interested in God. He didn't stop after the guy told him off. He knew this was where God wanted him... and that's EXACTLY where he went. And God worked in that man's heart.

- Just because people lash out at us about our faith... doesn't mean we should stop trying. We just keep loving on them until they can't stand it anymore... they're eventually gonna want what we have. We make our love apparent by spending time, by showing concern, and by speaking truth when it's needed.

- We don't have to compromise our beliefs in order to do this. For example, I used to go to lunch or dinner with a friend of mine all the time who was not saved. I never went to the bar with him... never went to a party... we spent time on neutral ground together... I didn't have to compromise my beliefs, and he didn't feel threatened by being in a place where he wasn't in control. He wasn't going to set foot in a church... but restaurants were ok. And they were places that we could sit down and talk without pressure.

- I have friends who know where I stand who will invite me when they're going to a movie or something, or out to lunch, but they know I won't go to a party with alcohol... so they won't invite me to those kinds of things... but they still seek my company for other things.

- Being in the world... but not part of it. Doesn't necessarily mean that we have to go TO the bar, or TO the brothel, or TO the drug dealer's residence to witness... just means we have to seek out people to love in God's way.

- I had friends in college who said they were going to the bar so they could witness... they were going to go where the sinners were... except that... they weren't strong enough in their faith to do that... and they themselves fell into alcoholism etc. Make sure it's a God thing when you walk into a place like that to witness... If God CALLS you to go there... you'll be fine... but if He doesn't... it'll be incredibly hard not to fall.

- Luke 11:5-13

- Sorry for the ramble... moving on...

- So the sign is that a virgin will conceive and bear a son. Now, if this indeed was a son in the house of Ahaz at the time... then Ahaz got to see first hand, the hand of God moving in his life. Because the nation of Israel and the nation of Syria, during the reign of Ahaz, was taken over by Assyria.

- Ahaz grew fearful of these nations... and he called on Assyria to come to his rescue... Instead of turning to God... he turned to an enemy nations. Well Assyria did their job. They conquered both nations... and then they came to Judah and attacked Judah. Ahaz took valuables from the Temple and gave them to the king of Assyria as a tribute payment so that he wouldn't destroy them.

- Instead of turning to God in this time of trouble... Ahaz... set up a pagan alters in every corner of Jerusalem and shut the doors of the Temple so that no one could worship there.

- Even after God proved Himself... Ahaz... walked away... and led the nation away with him.

- II Chronicles 28

- Now, looking at the prophecy fulfilled in Christ. This was indeed one of MANY prophecies that Christ fulfilled in his coming as He did.

- Matthew 1:23

vs. 17-20

- “Then the Lord will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you! In that day the Lord will whistle for the army of southern Egypt and for the army of Assyria. They will swarm around you like flies and bees. They will come in vast hordes and settle in the fertile areas and also in the desolate valleys, caves, and thorny places. In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people.”

- OK so in II Chronicles 28, Ahaz is king and Assyria has to be paid off.

- During Hezekiah's reign in chapter 32, Assyria yet again invades Judah. God sent angels to destroy Assyria because Hezekiah had worked a religious reform in the nation of Judah and he himself was a godly king. However... Babylon (who eventually took over Assyria) sent ambassadors to Judah to visit with Hezekiah. He was proud of his accomplishments... and showed them EVERYTHING that Judah owned.

- So we move on to Manasseh's reign in chapter 33. He was an evil king. Assyria came and captured Manasseh, put a ring through his nose and led him off to captivity. However Manasseh humbled himself before God, and before he died, God brought him back to Judah to be king.

- Josiah, chapters 34 and 35. Josiah was a godly king. He made huge religious reforms amongst the people. He found the law and reestablished it among the people. He got rid of all the idols in the land. However... Josiah heard that the king of Egypt was in the land... he went out to do battle with him... but the king of Egypt was on his way to do something else... and God told the king of Egypt to hurry. He asked Josiah not to interfere with him. But Josiah went up against him anyway and was killed in battle...

- Jehoahaz. Chapter 36. He was king a total of 3 months... Then the king of Egypt took over and demanded that they pay tribute. (Remember Isaiah said that Egypt would come?)

- So Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, was placed in charge by the Egyptians. He was another evil king. He reigned for 11 years... and then Babylon moved in and captured the land and the king.

- His son Jehoiachin was king for a little while... also an evil king... and then Zedekiah... also evil... He tried to rebel against Babylon... that didn't go so well for him...

- and finally... The Babylonians moved in and killed them all. They even chased them into the temple. “They had no pity on the people, killing both young men and young women, the old and the infirm.”

- And then Babylon burned the temple...

- It took a few years... but eventually... Assyria, as part of Babylon... did indeed take Judah captive... and did indeed destroy Jerusalem.

- God kept giving them opportunities to turn back... and they kept refusing. As a nation... they hardened their hearts and walked away from God... so... destruction came to them.

- The enemy came like a plague and took everything... the land, the crops, and the people... everything was killed or burned. Anything of value was destroyed. “The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled, just as the prophet had said.”

- So for 70 years... nothing grew. There was no one to tend the fields.

- Jeremiah 29:8-23
- Leviticus 26

vs. 21-25

- “In that day a farmer will be fortunate to have a cow and two sheep or goats left. Nevertheless, there will be enough milk for everyone because so few people will be left in the land. They will eat their fill of yogurt and honey. In that day the lush vineyards, now worth 1,000 pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns. The entire land will become a vast expanse of briers and thorns, a hunting ground overrun by wildlife. Not one will go to the fertile hillsides where the gardens once grew, for briers and thorns will cover them. Cattle, sheep, and goats will graze there.”

- Remember that this promised land was called “the land of milk and honey?” God was still going to sustain the people left here... He was still going to give them their fill of milk and honey... but the land itself... was unusable. It grew wild...

- God keeps His promises... whether they are promises of provision... or promises of destruction... God never goes back on His promises. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

- Psalm 73; 81
- II Corinthians 1:17-22
- Hebrews 6:16-20

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