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Isaiah: Prophet of Salvation Book 2

Isaiah is the prophet of Salvation. He is also known as the truly "Universalist" prophet, by which is meant that He makes it clear that salvation is extended equally to all nations and not just to Israel. He lived to see the fall of Israel and the deportation of the Israelites to Assyria, and he prophesied of their "return" to God (through repentance). He is truly a "major prophet" whose prophecies greatly influenced the Apostle Paul in the New Testament.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Isaiah 8: The Nation and the Remnant

Chapter 11: The Sons of God

The people of both Israel and Judah did not seem to comprehend that the threat of an Assyrian invasion was not merely a political or military problem. They did not understand that they had a spiritual problem that could be solved only by repenting and by restoring the laws of God which their forefathers had sworn to uphold. They did not realize that God Himself had raised up the Assyrians to bring judgment upon Israel and Judah, and that by fighting the Assyrians, they were actually fighting a losing battle with God.

Hence, the people as a whole viewed the situation from the perspective of their own carnal minds, whereas the prophets and the remnant of grace knew the mind of God. The difference was that the prophets and the remnant had the law written on their hearts, whereas the others were led by the carnal mind which is a natural enemy of God’s law, for it serves “the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25).

Isaiah 8:11 says,

11 For thus the Lord spoke to me with mighty power and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying…

There were therefore two very distinct classes of Israelites and Judahites. The remnant of grace were God’s chosen people, while the rest of them were Israelites by genealogy only and were not chosen at all, as Paul explains in Rom. 11:4-7. The chosen remnant had eyes to see, whereas the rest were blinded.

The heart of each group was evident in Isaiah’s time, as in every age, to the present time.

Unholy Alliances

Isaiah 8:12, 13 tells us what God had told the prophet,

12 “You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that this people call a conspiracy [qesher], and you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 It is the Lord of hosts whom you should regard as holy. And He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread.”

When God is our “fear” and “dread”—when we truly depend upon Him rather than upon false gods and upon unholy alliances with unbelievers—then He is our sanctuary, or protection, because, as Paul says, He is our Father and we are His children. Those who do not know the comfort of His fatherly protection are still reacting to the world and its threats, for they do not know their heavenly Father as they should.

The Hebrew word qesher (“conspiracy”) is from qashar, “an unlawful alliance” that was forbidden in the law of God (Exodus 23:32). The word for “conspiracy” (qesher) is also translated five times as “treason,” because it implies a change of allegiance.

This was the law that Paul referenced as well, when he said in 2 Cor. 6:14-18,

14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God… 17 Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a father to you; and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

To ally with unbelievers is to ally with their gods. Paul contrasts such a relationship with a family alliance with God, where He is our father and we are His children. This law should not be used to separate one’s self entirely from the world, of course, because we are ambassadors of Christ with a message to the world. We cannot be separatists in that way, but we certainly must know that we respond to our heavenly Father, rather than to the gods of the unbelievers.

The prophet continues in Isaiah 8:14, 15,

14 “Then He shall become a sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 Many will stumble over them, then they will fall and be broken; they will even be snared and caught.”

Isaiah says that “both houses of Israel,” that is, Israel and Judah, had no confidence in God’s ability to protect them in the face of grave danger. To them, God was not a sanctuary but “a stone to strike [bump against] and rock to stumble over.” In other words, God was an irritant and a stumbling block to them. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 1:23 that Jesus Christ Himself was Judah’s stumbling block, thus equating the God of Isaiah with Christ.

This stumbling block, or rock of offense (Rom. 9:33; Isaiah 28:16) is one of Isaiah’s important themes which the Apostle Paul well understood. Isaiah 8:14 introduces us to this theme and the prophet refers to it often thereafter. He tells us that “many will stumble over them… and be broken” (Isaiah 8:15).

He was speaking of the Israelites as a whole, not the remnant among them. The “stone” would be a steppingstone to the remnant but a stumbling block to the nation as a whole.

The Hidden Record of the Testimony

The prophet then says in Isaiah 8:16,

16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

Recall from verse 2 that the prophet had asked Uriah and Zechariah to witness the verdict against Israel and Judah. The verdict was depicted by Isaiah’s younger son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which prophesied the destruction and exile of Israel and, eventually, Judah as well. The latter part of the verdict was a provision to the believing remnant for God to be their Protector.

This was the verdict to which Uriah and Zechariah bore witness. This testimony was then bound up, tied up, or concealed. This may indicate that this verdict was not made public, as it would have been considered to be unpatriotic and perhaps even treasonous.

In the parallel statement, Isaiah says also to “seal the law.” The testimony was written on “a large tablet” (Isaiah 8:1), but the prophet uses the metaphor of a wax seal on a scroll (papyrus). Seals were used on private messages so that if the seal were to be broken, it would be known that someone had read the message without authorization.

This “seal” was just a metaphor, of course, since one does not seal a clay tablet. Yet the verdict was to be sealed “among my disciples.” In other words, only the disciples of the prophet were to know its contents. It is as if the testimony had been written in the hearts and minds of the disciples and that their lips had been sealed to keep it hidden.

This was the equivalent of having the law written in their hearts. Isaiah 51:7 speaks also of “a people in whose heart is My law.” These are the ones who “impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul” (Deut. 11:18). Jer. 31:33 later informs us that this was the purpose and goal of the New Covenant, saying, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it.”

For this reason, we can say that Isaiah’s disciples were part of the chosen remnant in whose hearts the law had been written. Like Uriah and Zechariah, all of these disciples were saved by the New Covenant even during the time when the Old Covenant held jurisdiction over the nation. When we understand that no man can be saved by the Old Covenant—and yet there were many who were saved prior to the coming of Christ—it stands to reason that these Old Testament believers were saved by the New Covenant that had been given to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

No doubt all of these believers had vowed to follow God, but more importantly, they had been chosen by God to begin fulfilling God’s vows. Hence, the remnant is chosen by God to bear the law and testimony in their hearts. Their righteousness is by faith, as was the case with Abraham. By hearing the word, the law was written in their hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit, which has been in the world since the beginning (Gen. 1:2).

The Sons of God

Isaiah 8:17 continues,

17 And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him.

Here we see conclusively that the “testimony” was being concealed from Israel and Judah as a whole, for God was “hiding His face from the house of Jacob.” The believing remnant saw God, but the nation as a whole did not, for they could not see the light that was in the remnant, nor did they believe their testimony.

The remnant are thus Israelites, while the rest of the people are merely Jacobites “from the house of Jacob,” the deceiver who did not yet understand the sovereignty of God and who was still deceived by thinking that God needed help from the arm of flesh to fulfill His promises. The prophet reminds us that God had hidden His face from Jacob, but when Jacob recognized the angel of His Face/Presence (Gen. 32:30; Isaiah 63:9), he received a new name and nature called Israel. The angel was Peniel, “God’s Face,” and so Jacob named the place accordingly.

The word was also in Isaiah’s prophetically-named children. Isaiah 8:18 says,

18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

The children’s names were prophetic, but the people did not have ears to hear what God was telling them, for they were yet blind. Heb. 2:13 uses the above verse to show that Jesus Christ was not ashamed to call us brethren. As sons and daughters of God, we are His younger brethren, called to raise up seed to our elder Brother who died childless (Deut. 25:5-10).

But this was incidental to Isaiah’s focus, for the prophet was teaching us that the law of God was written in the hearts of God’s children (Christ’s brethren), the chosen remnant. These believers are in agreement with God and His plan, including His judgments that are rendered in order to accomplish that long-term plan to make us His people and to be our God.

God does not hide His face from His children but only from the unbelievers. Those whom God has chosen, He imparts faith by speaking to them and by opening their ears to hear and respond. Those who respond with Abrahamic faith are those who believe that God is able to fulfill and perform that which He has promised through the New Covenant. Such faith begets the New Creation Man in our hearts, and this new man then becomes the real you, a son of God.