Mighty Floodwaters: The King of Assyria

8: 5-10

    DIG: What do the waters of Shiloah in Jerusalem and the River Euphrates in Assyria represent? What then is the meaning of Judah rejecting Shiloah and rejoicing over Rezin (see 7:1), resulting in a sweeping flood? Why does Judah prefer Assyrian help over God’s as they face this crisis (see Second Kings 16:7-9)? Why would idolatry lead to destructive political alliances? Is O Immanuel a cry of despair or hope? Why? What is the prophet’s hope for Judah, even as he considers the coming siege from Assyria (see Chapters 36-37)? To whom is this prophecy addressed? Why? What is different about the way God with us is written here than the other times in the Book of Immanuel? Why is it different? What did it mean to Judah?

    REFLECT: How has the LORD been like a gently flowing stream to you? When has your choice of allies resulted in a flood of overwhelming trouble? When has the LORD stopped the flood of your wrong choices from overwhelming you? What Rezins and rivers do people today flee from? Which ones affect you? What intrigue do you have in your life today? Do you thrive on activity or do you like serenity? But regardless of the busyness or quietness of your life, where is your resting place? Can you look back on your life and remember a time when you can say that God was with you in the midst of your troubles?

    The same sign of Maher-Shala-Hash-Baz (8:1) that was a testimony of ADONAI’S faithfulness was also a sign of destruction to those who did not believe (7:18-25). He disciplines those He loves. As Solomon wrote: My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in (Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:6). The more of God’s revelation, the more responsibility one has to obey it. Of all people, Judah should have known that. So Judah who delighted over the destruction of her enemies learned, to her dismay, that Maher-Shala-Hash-Baz applied to her as well.

    The LORD spoke to Isaiah again, saying: This people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah (8:5-6a). This people is an expression used of Judah, in 28:14 for example, but it refers to a foreign power in 23:13, and to Israel in 9:16. The context must decide the interpretation. Because the Assyrian domination of Israel in Chapters 6 and 7 foreshadows its domination of Judah in Chapter 8, the natural sequence refers to Judah. The people of the southern kingdom are condemned for rejecting the gently flowing waters of Shiloah. Those waters were a spring that fed into the pool of Shalom, within Jerusalem’s walls. It was a very smooth flowing, quiet stream. Shiloah was Jerusalem’s water supply until the time of King Hezekiah (Second Kings 20:20; Second Chronicles 32:30). It came into Jerusalem from the Gihon Spring. Gihon was the site of King David’s coronations (First Kings 1:33-34 and 45).

    And when the people of Judah saw the destruction of Syria with its king Rezin, and the downfall of the northern kingdom of Israel with its leader Pekah, the son of king Remaliah, they rejoiced (8:6b). Of all people, they should have known better. Solomon had written: Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove (Proverbs 24:17-18a). But Judah did not heed the words of ADONAI, and rejoiced at their defeat at the hands of Assyria.

    Therefore there were consequences. In light of Judah’s choices, ADONAI was about to act. Isaiah prophesied: The LORD was about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates River, which ran through Assyria. In other words, God would bring against them the king of Assyria with all his pomp (8:7a) In the doctrine of the remnant there is a contrast between noisiness and quietness. The quiet flowing waters of Shiloah that would save them are contrasted with the noisy floodwaters that would destroy the people of Judah. Whenever a flood is pictured in the Bible symbolically, it always refers to an army. Instead of trusting ADONAI, they trusted the Assyrians. Sometimes you need to be careful about what you ask for because you just might get it. Their payment for placing their trust in Assyria was the mighty vengeance of the Assyrians.

    God’s judgment would eventually come to Assyria (10:5-15) because it was not outside His rule. The floodwaters only go where He directs them (8:8a) and to the extent that He allows them (8:8b). Consequently Assyria would not stop its advance when it fulfilled promises made to Ahaz to end the northern threat (Second Kings 16:7-9), but would then attack Judah also. This, and later behavior (Second Kings 18:13-25), gave Assyria a deserved reputation that Isaiah would never forget (33:1).

    These mighty floodwaters will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah (8:7b-8:8a). And because they rejoiced so readily over the fall of Syria and Israel (in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in Chapter 7), Assyria would sweep on into Judah, swirling through it and reaching up to the neck (8:8b). Even though Assyria was able to overrun 46 fortified cities, they would fail to take Jerusalem, the head of the nation. Isaiah then changes figures of speech and pictures Assyria as a giant bird whose wings will cover the entire land.

    Its outspread wings refer to the extending floodwaters that will cover the breadth of the land of Judah. However, the floodwaters do not cover the head and drown the victim, and the bird of prey looms but does not kill. It was as if ADONAI had said, “This far, but no further.” The final blow against Judah (6:11-13) would come from Babylon as seen in the book of Jeremiah, not Assyria. But in the final analysis, Judah would be saved. Why? Because she was so wise or powerful? No, it was because of Immanuel.

    Your Land, O Immanuel (8:8d). This message was given to Immanuel (God [is] with us). Isaiah had used that word (7:14) when he told Ahaz that a boy, soon to be born, would be a sign that the nation would not perish at the hands of Syria and Israel. Now the Assyrians would try to destroy the land of Judah.

    Ultimately, Immanuel owned the Land and was the One Assyria attacked. Therefore, the word of Immanuel assured His hearers that He had not forgotten His covenant people and would be with them. Sin always takes us further than we want to go and costs us more than we wanted to pay, and that was certainly the case with Judah. She made a deal with the devil, and Assyria almost destroyed her. Ahaz thought he could use Assyria for his own ends. That sounds like us doesn’t it? We think we can control our favorite sin, which, if left unchecked, only comes back to ravage us. Just like Judah.

    Throughout Isaiah’s ministry Judah was threatened by superior powers and here, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he meditates on the fact that where the LORD is, there is security. We are reminded of Psalm 46:7 that affirms: the LORD of heaven’s angelic armies (CJB) is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

    The tone shifts dramatically in these verses. It seems like the thought of Judah in Immanuel’s Land had changed his perspective. He saw beyond her near historical defeat to the far eschatological victory. Yes, at that time she might be the pawn of the Gentile nations, her sins may have driven her further into their web of deceit. In the final analysis, however, all their plots and schemes would only align themselves with God’s will.

    Therefore, this is a message to the nations. In the Old Covenant, whenever the word nations is used, it always means Gentile nations. These nations are in distant lands. 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 (8:9)! The Hebrew word be shattered is a second imperative and often expresses an outcome that it is inevitable. For emphasis, this verse stresses the unavoidable three different times. It is a warning that any conspiracy to do away with the house of David will be thwarted. Yes, Judah was the pawn of other nations. Her sins had plunged her into the midst of their plotting schemes. But Isaiah warned: Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand (8:10a). When all was said and done, all their plots would not stand. Even though they might raise the war cry, it wouldn’t matter. They could make all the noise they wanted (again we see the contrast between noisiness and quietness regarding the believing remnant), but all their efforts would not succeed because of the promise made regarding Immanuel and the prophecy contained in 7:14.

    Why will the plotting schemes not succeed? Because the house of David could not be reduced to a point of insignificance until the birth of the virgin born Son, the stump of Jesse. A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit (see Dc – A Shoot Will Come Up From the Stump of Jesse). The point is that not until the glorious house of David is reduced to what it was in Jesse’s day, nothing but a cut down stump, will the Messiah appear. At that point the Levitic dynasty had lost its power and glory.

    So the great truth of Chapters 7-9 is that because of Immanuel, God was with Judah. That great truth separated Judah from all other nations in the world. Because ADONAI has promised to be with His people, they were to have faith in Him no matter how bad their circumstances. He would not desert them. Therefore, the Gentile nations would not succeed because God was with Judah. This is the third time God with us is mentioned (7:14, 8:8 and 8:10b) in the Book of Immanuel (7:1 to 12:6), but this time the word is written: God is with us.

    It is hard to overstress the significance that God is with us. The world seeks to be with God. The Biblical view, however, reverses the process. God is distinct from His world. This means that it is impossible for people to find God on their own. He had to take the first step and come to us through Christ, thus bringing us into fellowship with Himself (John 3:13, Romans 10:6, Second Corinthians 4:6, Colossians 1:15-20).

    The LORD had promised to be with His people, but many in both Israel and Judah refused to believe He would keep His promise. I am sure that there were times, with the enemy bearing down on them, that Judah did not feel that God was with them. But He was. What does it mean when we say God is with us? Does it mean that everything is going to turn out well for us? No, it doesn’t. To confirm that all we have to do is remember the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC, the destruction of Jerusalem in 77 AD, or the Holocaust. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life united with the Messiah Yeshua will be persecuted (Second Timothy 3:12 CJB). It means that God is with us in the midst of our troubles.

    We have just as much controversy, intrigue, rumors, and turmoil as Isaiah did in his day, and the LORD continues to be our secret of contentment today. When we choose God as our sanctuary rather than our stumbling block, then we can truly rest in the safety of Immanuel. He is still with us today.

 

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