Stand Firm In Your Faith Or You Will Not Stand At All

Photo by Ismael Paramo on Unsplash

Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 7.

Last Sunday in Sunday School we studied:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

There were several questions asked me about the text itself, and it’s fulfillment as prophecy. The text is very interesting, and has been the source of some confusion. The great Preacher (and my mentor) C.H. Spurgeon said of this text:

{This text is} One of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so; I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it, and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused.”

If you studied this in Sunday School last week and couldn’t grasp it, don’t feel badly. Today, with God the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we will examine this wonderful text, and see if we can understand the wonderful treasure it is.

Isaiah 7 was initially written to King Ahaz of Judah (Southern Israel). Let’s start at:

Isaiah 7:10-16 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. 13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. 16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

To Understand The Bible, You Must Understand
The Background And The Context

The Bible is written by God, through men that God moved. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:21). The Bible is not like a man-made writing. It’s words come from the infinite and immutable Creator of all things. “The Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV). It’s best to keep this in mind when you read the Scripture.

Every prophecy of Scripture can have a NEAR application, and a FUTURE or FAR application.
We’ll see that today.

The Book of Isaiah was written by the Prophet some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. The passage that we are looking at today is where God, through Isaiah, is speaking DIRECTLY to the evil King Ahaz, the King of Judah. Around 930 BC Israel had a civil war. The Northern Kingdom of Israel (ten tribes), also known as Ephraim, broke away from from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. From that point in Scripture the prophets referred to the Northern Kingdom as “Israel” or “Ephraim”, and the Southern Kingdom as “Judah”. The Northern Kingdom very quickly decided that they would establish their own Temple in Samaria, as they wanted to have nothing to do with the King or Jerusalem.

Southern Israel or “Judah” continued to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Over time, however, Judah began to drift away from faith in God. As we come to Isaiah 7, an evil king named Ahaz is ruling Judah or Southern Israel. Ahaz was twenty years old when he ascended the Throne of David, and ruled Judah for sixteen years. The Bible says:

2 Kings 16:2-3 (ESV) … {Ahaz} did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, 3 but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.

Ahaz sacrificed one of his own sons to the false god Molech, burning him in a fire. The man was a horrible ruler. And, as he ruled, his poor leadership led Israel into idolatry and blasphemy. Ahaz and Judah had an enemy in Ephraim or Northern Israel. Now we can begin to understand our text:

Isaiah 7:1-2 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2 And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

Judah – And Ahaz – Are In Trouble!

The king of Syria and the king of {Northern} Israel joined forces to destroy Judah and Ahaz. The two nations actually signed a joint force agreement. That’s what Syria is confederate with Ephraim. Again, Ephraim is another name for Northern Israel, or the ten tribes. When Ahaz was told that Syria and Ephraim were coming to destroy Judah, the Bible says:

vvs 2 his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind

That’s very picturesque! If you’ve ever seen the wind in the trees, it causes the leaves to shimmer and shake. Syria is a powerful nation, as is Northern Israel or Ephraim. Judah and her leadership were afraid, and didn’t know what to do. Syria and Northern Israel had already attacked Jerusalem once, but

but could not prevail against it {against Jerusalem}

Ahaz had made an unholy alliance with Assyria. Ahaz didn’t go to God, but to man for help. The scripture says:

2 Kings 16:7-9 (ESV) … Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria. 9 And the king of Assyria listened to him.

Ahaz blasphemed God, and gave the silver and gold utensils of the Temple to the King of Assyria as a bribe. He sought Assyria’s help rather than God’s. Though this initially worked, it could not ultimately defeat the enemy.

Sometimes God allows us to do something foolish so that we can learn the error of our ways. Ahaz’s treaty with Assyria would eventually lead to his downfall.

The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV) Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.

God often allows trials to come our way when we wander away from Him. Trials are often the paddle that our Lord uses on His errant children. When we get away from God we, like the Prodigal Son, only “come to our senses” when eating miserably out of the pig trough (Luke 15:16-17). Ahaz should have returned to the Lord! Judah should have returned to the Lord!

God told the Prophet Isaiah to go and meet with Ahaz. Isaiah was to tell Ahaz:

Isaiah 7:4-7 Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, Ephraim {Northern Israel}, and the son of Remaliah {the King of Ephraim}, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 6 Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7 Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

God went on to tell Ahaz,

Isaiah 7:8 …. within threescore and five years {65 years} shall Ephraim {N. Israel} be broken, that it be not a people.

Northern Israel and Syria are to God two tails of these smoking firebrands. They are “has beens”. God has decided to use Assyria to destroy both nations. The capital city of Syria, Damascus, will fall in 732 BC. The capital city of N. Israel, Samaria, will be destroyed in 722 BC. Our God is in control! Now God gives an ominous warning to King Ahaz.

If You Will Not Believe, You Will Not Be Established

Isaiah 7:9 … If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Word Study: The phrase If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established is the same Hebrew word twice: the Hiphil IMPERFECTof אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”, and the Niphal IMPERFECT of אָמַן ʼâman, [pronounced aw-man’]”. A clearer translation would be “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all”.

God is calling on Ahaz to repent and believe in Him. God has already promised that within 65 years both Syria and Northern Israel (Ephraim) will be destroyed because of their lack of faith and obedience to Him. The same thing will happen with Ahaz and Judah if he and his people do not REPENT and RETURN to Him. Oh Beloved, it is as the Apostle Peter said:

2 Peter 3:9-10 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…

God does not rejoice in destroying people. God loves people. People are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; Genesis 9:6). God would rather redeem the sinner than destroy the sinner. God would rather all repent, and walk with Him. God would rather that all enter Heaven rather than hell. God would rather we all live with God as our portion (Psalm 73:26), and have blessed lives through Jesus Christ our Lord. So God gives Ahaz another chance to repent and return from where he’s fallen. The King who sits on the Throne of David must NOT follow any god other than David’s God. Period!

Ahaz, Will You Repent?

Isaiah 7:10-12 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.

God asks Ahaz through Isaiah the Prophet, “ask Me for a sign – ANY sign – and I will give it”. Ahaz was told there was no limit to what he could ask as a sign. God said ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. God knew Ahaz’s heart, but wanted those around Ahaz – and us – to know how bad Ahaz had drifted from the faith. What was Ahaz’s reply to God? He said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. This sounds very spiritual, for Jesus said:

Matthew 4:7 … Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Yet it’s not a sin to ask God for a sign when God ASKS YOU to ask for a sign. God told His people in Malachi 3:10, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need”. God asked to be tested, but Ahaz was settled in his unbelief. It is as Jesus said:

John 3:20 (ESV) … everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

Ahaz was resting in his evil lifestyle. He did not want to walk with God! God replies to Ahaz’s foolish remark:

Isaiah 7:13-14 And {the Prophet Isaiah} said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Word Study: Isaiah told Ahaz, “You may not want a sign, but “the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Now here’s where you need to pay attention. This prophecy has two fulfillments, and it all has to do with the word translated virgin. This is the Hebrewעַלְמָה ʻalmâh, [pronounced al-maw’], which can be used for either “a young woman of marriageable age” OR “a virgin”. There is another Hebrew word for “virgin” which is the Hebrewבְּתוּלָה bᵉthûwlâh, [pronounced beth-oo-law’]. This word is usually translated “virgin”. But ʻalmâh can mean either a virgin, or a young woman ready to marry. Ahaz was unbelieving in God.

So God gave Ahaz an unbeliever’s sign. In Ahaz’s royal household a “young woman of marriageable age” would have a child, and name that child “Immanuel”.

Word Study: Now the name “Immanuel” means “God is with us”, but the Jews often named their children to honor God. The name “Joshua” is the Hebrewיְהוֹשׁוּעַ Yᵉhôwshûwaʻ, [pronounced yeh-ho-shoo’-ah], which means “Yahweh is salvation”. The Prophet “Isaiah’s” name is the Hebrew יְשַׁעְיָה Yᵉshaʻyâh, [pronounced yesh-ah-yaw’], which means “Yahweh will save”. One commentary notes “There was a normal conception in Ahaz’s day”. The Enduring Word Commentary notes: “Many commentators think that this was immediately fulfilled when a young woman in the royal household shortly married, conceived a son, and unknowingly naming him ‘Immanuel’ ”. God would have a child born in Ahaz’s palace named “God is with us” to continually remind him of his failure to repent and return. If Ahaz had just realized God was with him – and followed God – Judah would not need to fall to the enemy.

This prophecy had two fulfillments. The first was a NEAR fulfillment for a wicked, unbelieving King Ahaz. The second is a FAR fulfillment for the Christian.

Matthew 1:18-23 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Adam Clarke notes, “In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.”

God is with us. God has always been with us. So my question today is this: Will you believe in God? Will you repent, and turn your heart to Jesus, committing to following Him? Or will you, like Ahaz, be merely religious but unbelieving. God says to us today, “Ask Me for a sign, any sign, whether high or deep. Try Me, and see if I am not faithful and with you”. Our God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13). Give your life to Jesus, and stand in your faith.

For if you’ll not stand in your faith, you will not stand. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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