Do not fear – God has a plan! Blog 6

Isaiah 10:24 – 14:32

Sunday 4 November 2012 11.00am

Act 2 Scenes three and four[1]. They are quite different – the second,[2] dealing entirely with the rebellion of Meroch-Baladan in Babylon[3] which was bolstered by help from Egypt and the Philistines.

Ahaz is commended for not joining the rebellion, though the Philistines in particular pressed hard on him to join. Thus his dynasty remains as he accepts God’s role for Assyria as his agent of retribution on Israel. He is also assured that God will deal with the Assyrians in his own time, raising the Medes against them.[4]

But the Lord has secured Jerusalem and his afflicted people will find refuge there (14:32). The message is the same as the earlier scenes of the Act. ‘Do not be afraid. God has a plan – he is working it out and he will achieve his purposes in all things.’

The earlier scene three deals more directly with Ahaz and Judaea. The underlying message is the same. Do not be afraid – God is working out his plan.

First (10:24-27), God reminds the people that the Assyrians, who are now God’s instrument of punishment against Israel,[5] are also under his judgement and will bear his anger, for he will protect Jerusalem.

Second (10:27-32), a triumphal march to Jerusalem, which for a moment seems to be the Assyrian King, by verse 32 is clearly the Lord himself coming to ‘wave his hand at Jerusalem and make its hill large’.

The third episode (10:33-34) pictures God as the forester (gardener). He has come in triumphal procession and now he prunes and cuts to create beauty in his people. His purpose is not destruction but glory of his name and thereby the glory of his city and his people.

The fourth (11:1-10) is the promise of an heir to the throne – like a shoot out of a stump will Hezekiah’s reign be. The Davidic kingdom has now lost the largest part (Israel) and Judah is much, much smaller. Note especially that the actions and the attributes that give rise to the vision of peace[6] are God’s actions not the King’s or his successor’s.

The peace here almost uniquely[7] is depicted as a pastoral scene where the young children (who regularly were sent to tend grazing herds)[8] would live in peace with the natural predators of the herd.

The Knowledge of the Lord will do this – in chapter one the lack of knowledge of the Lord is the earliest accusation against his people. The whole will come from three strands of his blessing. First the Spirit of the Lord (2) provides the wisdom needed, then the fear of the Lord (2-3) enables the administration of justice and thirdly the knowledge of the Lord (2 and 9) creates the reign of peace.[9]

The next scene (11:11-16) is of a second deliverance of the Lord when he brings the exiles home from North, South, East and West. It finishes with a recall of the crossing of the Red Sea in the return from Egypt.

And the last scene (chapter 12) is a hymn of praise to the Lord that his people can draw ‘from the wells of salvation’ and that they have good reason to ‘make known his name among the nations’. This last word so reminiscent of the latter part of the book – the missionary calling of Jerusalem.

Rejoice – the Holy one of Israel is in your midst.

[1] Scene 3 10:24- 12:6 Scene four 13:1 – 14:32

[2] which we deal with first as it is almost a side show to the main event,

[3] The major player throughout this book is Assyria, right until the rise of Persia. But Babylon, with its historic link to the Tower of Babel, is often the titular enemy – a designation taken up in the Revelation of John in the New Testament era. During all the period we presently look at, Assyria has conquered Babylon and the Assyrian Kings have taken the title of King of Babylon into their title. But between 722 and 710 Meroch Baladan seized control. Ousted in 710-709 he briefly returned from exile to rule a further nine months till his final defeat by Sennacherib in 704BC

[4] Medes and Persians. See 13:17-22. The Philistines also will be dealt with, see 14:28-32

[5] Remember Israel is the Northern Kingdom which has rebelled and been brought to heel by the Asssyrians and which will soon disappear off the map. Judaea or Judah is the southern kingdom based on Jerusalem over which Ahaz presently rules.

[6] Shalom peace is much more than the English word implies. Shalom is wholeness, all that contributes to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being for the individual or the nation.

[7] There is almost a similar theme in Isaiah 35.

[8] Compare David’s role in the family of Jesse, 1 Samuel 17:31-37 and 16:11.

[9] For a fuller discussion on this see Word Biblical Commentary Vol 24 p 174.