Isaiah 8


‘The LORD said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. For 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.” Isaiah 8:1-4

Isaiah And His Children As Signs

This chapter is a prophecy of the Assyrian invasion. It begins with a renewal of the prediction of the overthrow of Syria and Israel in the form of a symbolic name, to be applied to Isaiah’s own son whose infant life is made the measure of the event.

This prophecy was fulfilled about three years later when Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria went up against Damascus, killed Rezin and took the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh and carried them away to Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29 / 1 Chronicles 5:26.

We read of the sign of Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, whose name means quick to plunder. Isaiah is to take a scroll or tablet, Isaiah 30:8 / Habakkuk 2:2, and write on it in a language everyone could understand, Habakkuk 2:2, in front of two witnesses, Zechariah, of whom it is not certainly known who this was, possibly one of the Levites whose name is mentioned in 2 Kings 18:2 / 2 Chronicles 29:1, and Uriah, 2 Kings 16:10-16. Two witnesses were to verify the prophecy with their signatures.

Isaiah’s wife is called a prophetess and nine months later Isaiah had another son and he was to write, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, that is, quick pickings, easy prey.

Damascus and Samaria are two capitals which represented their nations. The child’s name would be prophetic of the downfall of Syria and Samaria by the Assyrians. The plundering would reach even to the walls of Jerusalem. Before the child could say my father or my mother the land would be destroyed. In other words, before the child could speak, Assyria, through its king, Tiglath-Pileser, would ravage both Syria and Israel.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This was dramatically fulfilled in 732 B.C. when Damascus fell to Assyria and, even when Samaria fell ten years later, the child of this passage had not reached the age of accountability.’

‘The LORD spoke to me again: “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks 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, Immanuel!” Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered! Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Prepare for battle, and be shattered! Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.’ Isaiah 8:5-10

Here we read that Judah will also be punished, because of her trust in man, that is, Assyria. We read that the power of Assyria is under the power of God.

The ‘waters of Shiloah’ represent the monarchy in Zion through which the blessings of God flowed. Shiloah was a small fountain supplying a pool just outside the walls of Jerusalem, John 9:7 / John 9:11.

Judah had refused God’s blessings and turned to Assyria for strength. The ‘waters of the river’ refer to the power of Assyria and the ‘river’ is contrasted with the water of Shiloah. One of them is being accepted and the other is rejected.

There are two types of water in contrast here.

1. Gently flowing waters of Shiloah, in other words, they rejected the way of God.

2. Mighty floodwaters of the river, the Euphrates, in other words, God’s going to send this.

The waters of Shiloah are used as a symbol of Davidic monarchy enthroned upon Zion, which had the promise of God, who was enthroned upon Moriah, in contrast with the imperial or world kingdom, which is compared to the overflowing waters of the Euphrates.

The power of Assyria would cover up Judah but the land belongs to ‘Immanuel’ or God. This indicates who the Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14 is, it is the One whose land Israel is,  God. Therefore, ‘God with us’ is God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, John 1:14.

Judah must suffer because of her unbelief and Isaiah puts all the nations together who war against God’s people and pronounces a sentence of destruction upon them. The reason they shall be destroyed is because God is with us.

Assyria was going to be God’s tool and the mighty floodwaters of Assyria almost destroyed them, it reached up to the neck, Isaiah 30:28. The nations coming against Judah would fail because God is in control. All those who would put on their armour and swords would be overcome by the invading Assyrians.

Even if different countries prepare, Isaiah 5:27, devise strategies and come together in order to muster their armies against the strength of the Assyrian army, they would be conquered. God was using the Assyrian army as His tool of judgment on both Syria and Israel but no one would be able to stand against them.

‘This is what the LORD says to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people: “Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread. He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.” Isaiah 8:11-15

God warns Isaiah not to sink down to the level of the people in calling it a conspiracy as the people do. Isaiah is to fear nobody except God, he is not to think like other people think. Today, as God’s people we must view world situations through God’s eyes.

The people thought the prophets were using conspiracy when they warned the people. They also thought the kings were using conspiracy when they would back up.

When they cried out that this was all just a conspiracy against the nation, Isaiah wasn’t to be afraid and not to be filled with dread, 1 Peter 3:13-15, but he was to remember that what was about to happen was the work of God.

God is behind whatever judgement His people are going to suffer. Israel are going stumble over the rock of God’s will, Ezekiel 11:16 / Matthew 21:44 / 1 Peter 2:8.

In other words, when the people turned from the true and living God and embraced idolatry, many terrible things happened to them.

‘Bind up this testimony of warning and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples. I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.’ Isaiah 8:16-18

This is another prophecy of Christ forming a prophetical type, Hebrews 2:13. Isaiah is to bind up his words, Daniel 8:26 / Daniel 12:4, and he has students that he taught. The Word of God was all that would protect them.

Isaiah and his children are serving as a prophetic type of Christ and his children. He proclaimed the prophetic meaning of the names of his two sons as signs and then waited for God to bring to pass the fulfilment of the prophecy. In a sense, Isaiah becomes salvation is of God.

The Darkness Turns To Light

‘When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.’ Isaiah 8:19-22

Here we have a picture of darkness and despair which were the results of their unbelief, Hosea 4:6. Isaiah was highly indignant with God’s children who had taken off after fortune-tellers, spiritualists, wizards, and others who deceived the people, Leviticus 19:31 / Leviticus 20:6 / Deuteronomy 18:11 / 1 Samuel 28:7-19.

Only those people who spoke according to the law of God had any light in them.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Look how ridiculous it is that people would go to the dead in order to procure valid knowledge to help the living. It would be just like going to a pauper to learn how to handle money, or going to a drunkard to learn how to handle liquor! The only absolute yardstick of spiritual truth is the Word of God; and absolutely no human opinions, religions, philosophies, or systems of morality can be valid unless they are in harmony with the Word of God.’

We also see a picture of distress when judgement comes upon the land. They search everywhere for relief but are not looking to God, so they will not find relief.

Some look elsewhere for teaching except God and so they are living in spiritual darkness. The good news is, that Isaiah isn’t to do this.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This is a remarkable instance of the prophet Isaiah’s manner, of a rapid, impetuous, and bold style of utterance. He accumulates images; piles words on each other; and deepens the anxiety by each additional word, until we almost feel that we are enveloped by the gloom, and see objects of terror and alarm on every side.’

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