The Coming Assyrian Invasion
Then the Lord said to me, “Take a large tablet and write on it in common characters, ‘Belonging to Maher-shalal-hash-baz.’
The name means “speed the spoil, hasten the booty,” and points to the destruction of Syria and Israel by Assyria.
2 And I will get reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me.”
3 And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz; 4 for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.”
The prophecy conveyed by the birth of Isaiah’s son would be that within probably 2 years (or even less) the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III would plunder Damascus (circa 732 BCE).
5 The Lord spoke to me again: 6 “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, 7 therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, 8 and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.”
The picture here is that the people were unsatisfied with Shiloah, Jerusalem’s small and secret water supply; they envied the large Euphrates River of Assyria. The rejection of God’s gift of “gentle waters” is actually a rejection of God Himself. So God says, fine, you will get a taste of that water you long for, but you won’t like that either. It will come as a flood and devastate the land.
9 Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered;
give ear, all you far countries;
strap on your armor and be shattered;
strap on your armor and be shattered.
The sense here is as if one is speaking to a wayward child: “Okay, go ahead and climb the tree since that’s what you really want to do, but your actions will backfire and you’ll break your arm.”
10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
speak a word, but it will not stand,
for God is with us.
Matthew 1:18-24 (NIV)
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Fear God, Wait for the Lord
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying:
12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
Psalm 62:6 (NIV)
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
16 Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. 21 They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward. 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
Law and testimony each refer to God’s Word. We might say that law refers to God’s holy commands, and testimony refers to His dealings with His people as recorded in His Word. But that may be slicing it too thin, because often similar terms for God’s Word are repeated, not for the sake of distinction, but for the sake of emphasis.
How it needs to be proclaimed to our pulpits today: To the law and to the testimony! Enough with your over-use of anecdotes and jokes! Enough with your emphasis on entertainment and sappy stories! Enough with your catering to itching ears! Enough with your hobbyhorses and pet peeves! To the law and to the testimony!
Can we over-emphasize the vital importance of hearing the Word and then ordering our lives in accordance with what it says? Lord, help us. MercyMe sings “Word of God, Speak.” Click HERE to listen.