Thursday, March 10, 2011

Understanding the Prophecy of Isaiah – Part 1

I’ve been praying to God to strengthen my body so that I can attend bible class. Last week, I had a prompting to contact Leong Tien Fook and ask him if he has started any classes in any churches and he replied that he has - just last week at First Baptist Church in Subang Jaya! Praise the Lord! I was jumping up and down and really excited because last week was just an introduction and last night, we started studying the book of Isaiah! There are 5 more lessons to go and it is every Wednesday night from 8pm to 10pm.

I decided not to sign up for Isaiah class under BSF because I felt God could use me better if I went for Elpizo instead to encourage others rather than to get stuck in a regimented bible class for a full year. So, I am so delighted that I have another opportunity to study the book of Isaiah.

The study is entitled “Understanding the Prophecy of Isaiah”.

Interestingly, Isaiah 7 is my rhema from God that the cancer will not rise up against me. It will be too shattered. It is interesting to study historically what actually happened in the 8th century BC to Syria and Israel after Isaiah’s prophecies.

There are so many names of regions in chapter 7, it threw me off initially. I found a website that helped me visualize where Aram, Damascus and Syria were located:

Things to know:
Syria in Hebrew is Aram. It’s main city is Damascus.
Ephraim is in Samaria.
Samaria is the capital of Israel (Northern Kingdom)
Jerusalem is in Judah (Southern Kingdom)

Setting: Assyria, a very powerful empire then

In 735 BC, God spoke to Isaiah when Ahaz was king of Judah. King Rezin of Aram (Syria) and King Pekah of Israel fought Jerusalem but could not overpower it (verse 1). It was the chastisement of God upon King Ahaz that the Lord began to send the 2 kings against Judah (2 Kings 15:37). Ahaz had not done what was right in the Lord's sight and even sacrificed his son in the fire (2 Kings 16:1-5). Due to the alliance of the 2 kings, Ahaz and the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken (verse 2). Isaiah prophesied that the 2 kings would attack Judah but they would not be successful if Ahaz stood firm in his faith in God and even encouraged Ahaz to ask for a sign but Ahaz refused. Ahaz asked for help from the King of Assyria and even took some things from the temple of the Lord and from the royal palace and presented it to King assyria but that did not help him (2 Chronicles 28:16-21). Because Ahaz refused to trust God, Isaiah (in Chapter 7) gave 2 of the following prophecies to the house of David:

1) Isaiah 8:3-4
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. 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."

It takes about 2 to 3 years for a little child to say “my father” or “my mother”. In fulfillment of the scripture, Assyria took Syria (Damascus) captive in 732 BC, 3 years after God spoke to Isaiah.

2) Isaiah 7:14-17
14Therefore the Lord himself will give youc a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.15He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 16But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17The LORD will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”

To the Jews, children before 13 years old begin moral accountability and start going to Hebrew school. In fulfillment of the prophecy, Assyria captured Samaria (Ephraim) within 13 years from the time God spoke to Isaiah regarding this prophecy.

In 722, BC Assyria defeated Samaria (capital city of Israel).

In the past, God spoke to the people of Israel through the prophets. Isaiah was one of them and many of his prophecies, we can observe today have been fulfilled. Isaiah’s prophecies in chapter 7, covered both a short term fulfillment (during his time) and a long term fulfillment where Jesus was the child born of a virgin. He prophesied it 700 years before Jesus was born. In the above prophecy, Isaiah saw the virgin (in Hebrew just means unmarried maiden and during that time unmarried maidens can be assumed as virgin) pregnant. This was fulfilled in Luke 1:31 when an angel appeared to Mary and said

“31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.””

That Mary was pregnant, was a visible miracle for all to see.

In Isaiah 9:6-7, he had a vision of the child born and is called Mighty God and Everlasting Father.

“6For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,b Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.”

That Jesus was born in the manger in Bethlehem (also foretold) and angels appeared to the shepherd and later the magis followed the star and visited Jesus was a visible miracle for all to see.

And in Isaiah 11:1-2, Isaiah saw Jesus anointed with the holy spirit.
“1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—
3and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.”

This was fulfilled when Jesus was baptized and John saw the spirit of God descend like a dove and lighting on Jesus (Matthew 3:16). This too was a visible miracle to John and maybe to all present at the baptism too.

We can believe that God truly spoke to Isaiah because we have seen these prophecies miraculously fulfilled today. We can also then be convicted that the same will be true of God’s other promises spoken through many prophets and who Jesus himself claims to be, the son of God. This shows that our faith is not just blind faith but faith that rests on historical facts and we can trust God.

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