Isaiah 8:1-10 (NKJV)
Moreover the Lord said to me, “Take a large scroll, and write on it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. And I will take for Myself faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.”
Then 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; for before the child shall have knowledge to cry ‘My father’ and ‘My mother,’ the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria.”
The Lord also spoke to me again, saying:
“Inasmuch as these people refused The waters of Shiloah that flow softly, And rejoice in Rezin and in Remaliah’s son;
Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them The waters of the River, strong and mighty — The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will go up over all his channels And go over all his banks.
He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel.
“Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Give ear, all you from far countries. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces; Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces.
Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, For God is with us.”
Today we will be talking about Assyria’s invasion and Isaiah’s son. God, having given warnings to Ahaz about the invasion of Assyria, was now beginning to weigh in on that promise. The phrase Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz is repeated twice; once as a concept and the other as Isaiah’s son. Interestingly, God tells Isaiah to write it once “with a man’s pen” and Himself calls upon Uriah the priest and Zechariah to be His witnesses. This is the same Zechariah of the namesake book in the Bible. The term “man’s pen” is actually better translated as a writing style understandable by ordinary people. This message was meant for more than just the royalty and the nobility. The message in Isaiah 8 is for the masses, which is a departure from Isaiah’s post as prophet to the higher ranking ones. Additionally, God here does not call upon witnesses as in other people to speak for Him, but rather to act witness to the message that is being spoken here as a means of veracity. Isaiah is not going to be the only one talking about this. For the people, this might have been necessary. It would be easy to dismiss the message of one person as the ramblings of a madman, even though this person was trusted by royalty, or even that of a royal emissary come to sow more woe in the lives of the common people. But the other two witnesses would act as an assurance that what was being said came straight from the lips of God. Isaiah then goes to his wife, here termed “prophetess”. Whether she was actually a prophet in her own right or simply called that as the wife of a prophet is not known, but she definitely played a role in at least this prophecy: which was to bear a son for Isaiah. Yet the reality is grim. Before the child would even be able to cry “My father” and “My mother”, Israel would fall to Assyria. This doesn't mean that it would happen when Maher was a babe, but rather before he reached the wisdom enough to cry out. No one expects a baby to say 'father' or 'mother'. That is usually reserved for adults. Indeed, the words here are ab (באָ) and em (םאֵ) instead of abba or emma, which would be the equivalent of saying ‘papa’ or ‘mama’. The Lord rebukes the people for refusing the gentle waters of Shiloah (a river that flowed through Jerusalem and therefore a symbol of Jerusalem and God’s appointed king) in favor of Rezin as well as Remaliah’s son. Because they wanted powerful forces rather than peace, God obliges and brings a strong and mighty river: the king of Assyria. This river would go through all the channels and river banks, passing through Judah and overflowing throughout the lands until everything would be submerged and begin suffocating. In fact, this is what occurred when Hezekiah was facing the threat of the Assyrian army. This was retribution from God’s point of view: if you will not be satisfied with what I give you, then I will give you what you desired and more. Some may see God’s punishment as tyrannical and cruel, but tell me this: in the same position of having provided so much for a loved one only to have them go to someone else for what they want, would you not become resigned and say, “if you really want it that way, then two can play at that game”? Make no mistake. God is vindictive because He is jealous and because Israel and Judah had incurred His jealous anger, they would get what they bit off but it would be more than what they assumed they could chew. God’s message to them was to be broken in pieces. He repeats the same line twice: Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces. There is nothing that they could do. Any counsel would be useless. The prophecy turns back twice to the idea of Immanuel. God is with us, in good times and in bad. Sometimes, if God is the reason for the bad times, His presence assures our destruction. But it also gives us hope that if we turn back to God, we will be rebuilt; something we will look at in the second half of Isaiah 8.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections. Daniel is in the Young Professionals ministry of the Central Christian Church.