Treachery, Aggression and Immanuel’s Comfort

I.THE CONFOUNDING OF AHAZ (vv. 1-2). 1. In a dangerous plot against Jerusalem (1). A conspiracy arose against the kingdom of Judah. Two monarchs were in league plotting Judah’s destruction. Ahaz the king was in trouble. But in a strategic place he is met by Isaiah the prophet with a message of assurance that the threatened invasion would not succeed, for God would destroy both enemy nations (1-9). 

Yet the king was incredulous. With pretended piety, humility, and confidence in God, he refused to do as commanded—ask a sign of the promised event. In rebuke and exposure of his unbelief, the sign is nevertheless given to the house of David, namely, the wonder of the world in the miraculous conception and virgin birth of God incarnate (10-16). 

Ahaz is further rebuked for his ingrained trust in Assyria, rather than in God. His confidence in man shall be disappointed by the Assyrian invasion of his land. Then follow subjection to foreigners, removal into captivity, and occupation of the land by the heathen, until the country of Judah falls into decay (17-25). 

“And it came to be in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, (that) Rezin, the king of Aram (Syria), and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up (to) Jerusalem to war against it, but were not able to war againstit” (v. 1). Judah had been strong under Uzziah and Jotham, but under that horrible wretch Ahaz (II Chron. 28:3), it became most evident that he had a passion for everything Assyrian in which the religion of Jehovah was banished from the realm. This in itself emboldened Pekah and Rezin to invade Judah and attack Jerusalem. Pekah, a nobody and a low-born man, was a conspirator and a murderer, who, though he did manage to reign as long as 20 years, providentially, and by divine retribution, was himself assassinated by a conspiratorial murderer. 

Evil increased against Ahaz. Judah had lost its only port when Rezin had taken Elath on the Red Sea. Then the vassal nation of Edom regained its independence and took many Jews captive. The Philistines also had recaptured the towns Uzziah and Jotham had held. So that “Jehovah brought Judah low, because of Ahaz; for he had made Judah naked, and trespassed sore against Jehovah” (II Chron. 28:19). 

2. In a resulting distress leaving Ahaz shaken. “And it was told to the house of David, saying, Aram (Syria) (is) resting upon Ephraim (Israel); and his heart shook, also the heart of his people, as the trees of the Thicket from the faces of the wind” (v. 2). The house of David is the monarchy at the very top—the king. He was told, Syria rests on Ephraim. (Syria is confederate with Ephraim.—KJV). Syria rests with Israel’s treaty made with it. This news not only shook up Ahaz and his military men, but all the people were filled with dread. Now it would take only a zephyr to make the whole aspen of Judah to quake. Such events will cause all men to freeze with fear. Only, there is a difference between the fear of the ungodly, which is confusion, like a chicken as it runs with its head cut off, and the fear of the godly, which is conversion and turning to God for refuge. The forces of the wicked boast themselves as being as numerous and imposing as the trees of the Big Thicket, yet when the Almighty puffs at them, they shake like reeds in the wind. 

II. THE CERTIFICATION OF JEHOVAH (3-9). 1. In His sending the prophet to meet Ahaz. “Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go out now to proclaim to Ahaz, thou and Shearjashub, thy son, to the end of the aqueduct of (from) the upper pool at the highway of the field of the fuller” (the cleaners). (v. 2). Isaiah probably goes to the same spot where in Hezekiah’s day his ministers painfully conferred with Rabshakeh (Isaiah 36:2, 12). Ahaz then, likely, was out to reconnoitre, and, so it happened, did preparatory work for Hezekiah and the strategy taken in his day. Isaiah is commanded to take with him his son Shearjashub, which is significant (Isaiah 8:18), because, himself bearing a significant name, meaning “salvation of Jehovah,” Isaiah and his sons walking about before the people are living prophecies. Bringing this son with him, Isaiah is as much as saying to the nation, “I am writing a book entitled, A Remnant Shall Return, the preface to which you have already read” (Isaiah 6:13). This son is nowhere else explicitly mentioned in Scripture. But the name has in it the idea of all prophecy, and implicitly runs through this prophecy (Isaiah 1:8-9, 4:3, 6:13, 10:20-23, especially v. 21, where the words “a remnant shall return” appear). Observe, too, how the Lord takes the initiative here (as He always does): it is not Ahaz, running about in all directions (Calvin), who first cries out in fear to Him, or desires the prophet to enquire of the Lord for him, but He first sends to Ahaz with His own Word. 

2. In the words He put in the prophet’s mouth. “And say thou to him, Be on guard and be calm; fear not, and let not thy heart be weakened from the two (butt) ends of these smoking firebrands (wooden pokers) at the mountain of anger of Rezin (Retsin) and (KJV has “with”) Aram and the son of Remaliah” (v. 4). A clam prophet approaches the shaken Ahaz. These enemies, who lately seemed like meteors, rockets, or boasted fireballs, are now mere fizzles, butt ends of the wooden pokers of a campfire. So the king is counseled to “be cool” and trust to God’s protection. They have done their destructive work. They will never do it again. Their evil designs are at an end, their energies depleted, their wrath and anger all burned out. They can do no more, except to continue smoking for awhile. They are now no more than smoke in the nose—or in the eyes. 

But how is it that a “fear not” of the Bible is directed to a man like Ahaz? Not in the sense of a spiritual “fear not,” nor that of the mere external call, without the effectual, saving inner call of God. For Ahaz is no more than commanded not to fear an enemy which has now become about as threatening as a smoking piece of firewood. Still, he should learn from this that it is his responsibility, as it is that of all men everywhere, including the reprobate, to trust in God alone (AC. 17:31).

3. In the assurance that the enemy would be defeated. “Because Aram (Syria), Ephraim (Israel) and(or, in) the son of Remaliah, took (gave) evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us rise up against Judah and terrify her, and let us cause a schism (split) in her for us, and cause to king a king in the midst of her, even (or, to wit) the son of Tabeel. Thus saith, Adonai Jehovah, It shall not stand, and it shall not be!” (vv. 5-7). The Syrian king is not referred to by name, God disdaining to so honor him. Further scorn is shown in omitting the name of the king of Israel, merely referring to him as the son of an obscure Remaliah. God scorns the scorners. These two plotted against Judah, to terrorize, cause splits in the nation, the divide-and-conquer tactic. That was the counsel of the wicked. The Lord knows and so informs Ahaz through Isaiah exactly what they had in mind. But the counsel of the sovereign God is antithetical to this: It shall never stand; it shall never be! For His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). Revolutionists all over the world, and state powers within this country plot against the church, the family, the Christian school. They keep singing, “We shall overcome” them. But there is another song, already written in the secret counsel of God.

They who stand

against Jehovah God

or without Him,

Cannot stand long!

Therefore we must be on guard, hold to the word of God, expect its full accomplishment in all its prophetic scope, commit all our cause and our way to the Lord, nor ever be fainthearted because of any enemies. For without faith it is impossible to please Him, but with faith is the victory which overcomes the world! 

4. In the prospect of the destruction of all His and our enemies. “For the head of Aram (Syria) is Damascus, and the head of Damascus (is) Rezin, and in sixty and five years Ephraim shall be broken from (being) a people. And the head of Ephraim (is) Samaria, and the head of Samaria (is) the son of Remaliah. If ye will not believe, (it is) because ye are’ not established!” vv. 8-9). This was all fulfilled. Neither of these enemies would increase their territories, enjoy further victories, nor be any threat to Judah. Israel, in 65 years, in the reign of Manasseh, was despoiled, first by the invasion of Tiglath-pileser (II Kings 16:9), and then by the defeat of Samaria and the deportation of the ten tribes (II Kings 17:6) and finally by Esarhaddon’s replacing the decimated population of the land with people of another race (II Kings 17:24Ezra 4:2). Judah did not remain, either, but sank into the oblivion of the Babylonian captivity. Yet there remained that motto of hope,Shear-jashub! A remnant shall return! Syria and Rezin represent the ungodly world. Samaria and Pekah represent the apostate church in league with the world, with the church not only in the world, but the world in the church. Judah, Jerusalem, and the house of David represent the true church which shall be gathered, defended, preserved, established, and made to stand to the end of the world. Fearful and powerful enemies rise up today in our own land against the kingdom of God. As never before we are being insidiously threatened. For example, there are laws enabling state prosecutors to take our children from the custody of our homes and from our parents, charging them with child-abuse or child-neglect for sending our children to unlicensed (Christian) schools. We are not so aware of this spreading evil as we ought to be. We believe the day may soon come when our awareness of it will be sharp enough. The tentacles are tightening. The net is being drawn closer. But the plots of the enemy shall not be entirely accomplished because God has decreed that the antichristian world kingdom of the Beast shall prevail only for a time. Then it shall be destroyed, surprisingly enough, by the heathen forces of the Gog and Magog nations. 

Finally, the Lord God, through the prophet Isaiah, in the words, “If ye will not believe, it is because ye are not, will not and cannot be established,” condemns all false religion and every religion which does not utterly trust in Jehovah and in His virgin born Son, the incarnate Prince Immanuel.