Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 118 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Isaiah 7 today and our focus is on the military origins of Christmas and the importance of standing firm in faith. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

it is a very famous verse – spoken in hushed tones around Christmas time in particular, the prophecy of Isaiah to King Ahaz of Judah about a virgin who would bear a child:

14 Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. 

Most Christians, and a surprising amount of non-believers are quite aware of this passage, but only very few are aware of the context of the passage – how militaristic it is Here’s the situation. Ahaz is king of Judah, and he faces an alliance of the king of Israel and the king of Aram. Both are coming against him and seeking to install a new king in Judah. King Ahaz was not a good guy, to say the least, and he did not follow God. Here is the Bible’s assessment of him as a leader:

He did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God like his ancestor David but walked in the ways of the kings of Israel. He even sacrificed his son in the fire, imitating the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had dispossessed before the Israelites. He sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree. 2nd Kings 16:1-4 

Pekah was also an evil king – no good guys here. But, for whatever reason, it seems like God gave Ahaz a chance for rescue from this coalition of kings that was set to attack Judah. He sends the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz with a word – don’t be afraid of these smoldering wicks that are coming to destroy you says Isaiah to Ahaz, but trust in God to deliver you. In fact, God tells Ahaz to ask for a sign that the Lord will deliver him, but Ahaz flatly refuses, saying that he won’t put God to the test. It sounds quite pious, but, as we learn in 2nd Kings 16, Ahaz had already made some sort of secret deal with the king of Assyria, bribing him with a great amount of silver and gold:

So Ahaz sent messengers to King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. March up and save me from the grasp of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.” Ahaz also took the silver and gold found in the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the king’s palace and sent them to the king of Assyria as a bribe. So the king of Assyria listened to him and marched up to Damascus and captured it.  2nd Kings 16:7-9

God’s grace and rescue was free and permanent and powerful, but Ahaz decided he’d rather trust in horses and chariots and pagan kings, rather than in the hand of God. Before you shake your head too much at Ahaz, maybe we should consider:  don’t we sometimes do this too? Don’t we choose to FIRST trust other things rather than God? Let’s read our passage and may it turn our hearts to trust in God first and foremost!

In the midst of this situation, the Lord gives Ahaz a powerful message through Isaiah, and it is our verse of the day.

If you do not stand firm in your faith,
then you will not stand at all. Isaiah 7:9 

Sadly, king Ahaz ignores this wisdom, but we must not! Let’s bring in Charles Spurgeon to help bring the text home to our hearts:

THOSE WHO REFUSE TO EXERCISE FAITH WILL MISS MANY GREAT PRIVILEGES. I might mention many, but the text gives us the one which I will dwell upon: “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” It means, first, that those who believe not will miss establishment in comfort. If you believe not in God, your heart shall be moved like the trees of the wood by the wind; you shall be tossed to and fro, like the waves that dash on the rocks; you shall be driven along like a rolling thing that is twisted about by the whirlwind. But if you will believe in God, and in his dear Son who reveals him, then you shall come to an anchorage, and there you shall outride every storm. Fear shall depart, and your soul shall be at rest. Oh, you do not know the profound calm that overspreads the spirit when it has done with itself, and just commits itself to God! You never can know this, if you will not believe….

We know some who are, at times, all bright of eye, and cheerful with hope, and they look into the eternal world with great delight. They half wish that they could die at once, and be where Jesus is; but after a very short time their castle in the air melts away; they have no joy, no hope, no peace. No; “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” If ye hope without believing, your hope is an anchor that has not gripped anything. If you expect without a proper ground of expectation; or if the ground be not what God has said, then you may expect what you like, but as your expectation is not from him, it will certainly be disappointed. Oh, that you would make the Word of God the top and bottom of everything in your life! Oh, that you would take it as the Alpha and Omega of your knowledge of things divine! Then would ye be established, for there would be something to ground your hope upon, which even Satan could not destroy….

And ye guilty ones, look up, believing that he is greater in mercy than you are in sin, and more able to forgive than you are to transgress; and you shall find it so; but “if ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” Let us all go home, believing in Christ Jesus, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon, “No Fixity without Faith,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 39 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1893), 199–200. 

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April  James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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