“When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” (Isa. 7:2)
Ahaz was terrified. But God tells him not to fear.
“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Ramaliah.” (Isa. 7:4)
“It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isa. 7:7-9)
They will not stand. They are mere humans. God decides the course of human history, the destiny of kingdoms. God says, “do not fear,” and “be firm.” He says, “trust in me, and ask me for a sign from me to strengthen your faith” (from Isa. 7:11), but Ahaz makes a lame excuse saying “I will not put the Lord to the test” (Isa. 7:12), and goes to Assyria for help instead. He schemes to have Assyria attack Israel and save him, but he ends up setting a snare for himself.
Because of Ahaz’s unbelief, God will let Assyria destroy Judah, there will be not many people left on the land (Isa. 7:21-22), and every place that used to be fruitful will become briers and thorns. Ahaz rejected God and relied on human power, and that very human power ensnared Judah. (Isa. 8:6-8)
But God will give Judah a sign,
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
Isaiah urges the people to fear God and wait for the LORD. “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 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” (Isa. 8:13-14).
“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” (Isa. 8:17)
The people in their spiritual blindness and darkness will be greatly distressed, hungry, and enraged (Isa. 8:21), they will indeed stumble and fall and be broken, be snared and taken. (Isa. 8:15)
What this piece of the history of Israel teaches is that humans fall because we rely on others rather than on God. Only God’s promise is reliable and makes us truly firm. The Immanuel has come. The sign has been given. We have all failed to look to God in faith and ask Him for a sign, but God gave us the sign anyway because he loves us too much not to.
One thing I notice is that it is repeatedly said that this good news will be “a stone of offense” to some people. There are, and will be always people who deny and reject the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ when they hear the gospel. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
We should trust in God in all situations no matter how terrifying it may seem. Using all the human resources and information is wise because they are after all God’s creation, but we shouldn’t put our deepest trust on any of them ultimately. Our sense of security comes from the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. On that secure basis, we do everything else in wisdom and love for the glory of God. Otherwise we become desperate and miserable.
Be careful, be quiet, do not fear. Trust in Jesus, wait for the Lord.