God’s Promise

Isaiah 7:4-6 “And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet: fear not, neither be fainthearted, for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.  Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal.”

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In spite of Judah’s turning away from God; in spite of the wickedness and idolatry that had finally brought God’s judgment down on their heads, God was still willing to open His hand of protection over Judah and Jerusalem. Even at the final hour, God makes an offer of peace and protection.

God promised Ahab, in verse 4, that the northern confederacy between Ephraim and Aram would be overthrown, and that Ephraim would be broken in pieces ( vv. 4-9). Syria, under Rezin, and Ephraim, under Pekah, King of Israel, even had a plan to install a man named Tabeal (there are many different spellings of this name) as King in Judah. The most I could find out about this man is that he was apparently in the Aramean army, possibly the son of a general, and he would be nothing more than a figurehead.

The thing that would be appalling to Judah was that he was not of the house or lineage of King David, and had no right to sit on David’s throne. They would be governed by someone who was not of their faith, not of their blood.

And still, Ahaz set his stubborn face against God’s gracious offer of intervention.

A Meeting

Isaiah 7:” Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-ja-shub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field:”

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Did you ever wonder exactly how God spoke to His prophets?  Did they actually hear His voice?  Or was it a trance-like state when God infused His words into their minds? Well, someday we’ll know.  Today God speaks to us through His Word, and anyone who tells you that God spoke to him any other way is highly suspect.

Now.  Judah and Jerusalem were trembling with fear at the news that Ephraim (Israel) and Syria were planning another attack. God took some pity on them, and sent Isaiah and his son to speak with King Ahaz and try to encourage him.

Isaiah’s son’s name was Shear-ja-shub. It means the remnant shall return. That name alone should have been an encouragement to Ahaz, but he wasn’t especially in tune with Jehovah, so it probably didn’t mean much to him.

The conduit, or aqueduct of the upper pool, at the road of the fuller’s field was on the west side of Jerusalem.  Ahaz was very likely carrying out defensive operations to prevent the enemy from gaining access to this water supply  while  keeping it open for the citizens of Jerusalem.  So this was a strategic spot, and should have alerted Ahaz that God was still operative in Judah if Ahaz would turn to Him.

Here’s some helpful information about the upper pool referred to in this verse:

http://www.biblicalarchaeologytruth.com/the-upper-pool.html

The following information comes from The Bible Hub.com:

Fuller’s field

A spot near Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 36:2; 7:3), on the side of the highway west of the city, not far distant from the “upper pool” at the head of the valley of Hinnom. Here the fullers pursued their occupation.

Fuller’s soap

(Hebrews borith mekabbeshim, i.e., “alkali of those treading cloth”). Mention is made (Proverbs 25:20; Jeremiah 2:22) of nitre and also (Malachi 3:2) of soap (Hebrews borith) used by the fuller in his operations. Nitre is found in Syria, and vegetable alkali was obtained from the ashes of certain plants. (see SOAP.)

A fuller was a man who did the laundry.  His field was a likely supply of the vegetable alkali used to make soap.  I looked for the etymological meaning of the word, and the Hebrew root is simply to wash, or to clean. Sometimes this process was done by foot:  The fuller would put the item to be cleaned in a bath of water and soap, and walk on it over and over. Fulling was meant to whiten the fabric, much as bleach is used today.

I apologize if you find all my detailed explanations tedious.  I love words, and I like to know their origin and how the meanings have changed across time.  Apparently, this pool and the fuller’s field were well-known sites near the city, and would make an easy meeting place for Isaiah, Shear-ja-shub, and King Ahaz. It makes sense that the laundry business would be located near plentiful sources of water.

Fear and Dread

Isaiah 7:2. “And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.”

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I find charts of this nature most helpful in getting the chronology straight.  This one helps us see that there was war and destruction for many years.  It was a time of great turmoil for both Judah and Israel (called Ephraim in our verse today because Ephraim was the largest tribe in the northern kingdom). The map I posted in yesterday’s blog post is also helpful in seeing the geographical patterns of invasion and destruction.

The scriptures that detail these events in 7: 1-16 are II Kings 15:37- 16:6; II Chron. 28.) My husband gave me a chronological Bible last year, and it is particularly helpful in keeping the prophets and their times of ministry in order, as well as the events that took place.

In 7:1, we read that Syria and Israel went to war against Judah, but could not succeed in their efforts. They didn’t give up, however, and a second invasion was planned. When Ahaz, King of Judah, who was of the lineage of David, heard of it,  they were “moved like trees in the woods are moved in a windstorm”  That means they were afraid. They were far smaller in number than the combined armies of Ephraim and Syria. They were already pressed and stretched from the first invasion.  There was good reason to be afraid.

War!

Isaiah 7:1. ” And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.”

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Syria was also called Aram, which as you can see is just north of the Kingdom of Israel.  It was a natural alliance, geographically. Syria became attached to the great Assyrian Empire, and gave Israel a whole lot of trouble over time.

Israel was in no better shape, spiritually, than Judah and Jerusalem were. Israel was ready to make alliances with ungodly kings  in order to move against Judah, against whom there was often a lively hatred.

This attempted invasion took place after Uzziah died, during the reign of his grandson Ahaz. Isaiah was given no written prophecy to record at this time.

Jotham, son of Uzziah and father of Ahaz, seems to have been inclined to conforming to God’s Law, but there was much evil in the nation, and the next king, Ahaz, was in open rebellion against God. Judah was soon to come under the direct enacting of Isaiah’s prophecies against her.

The two kings who led armies against Judah, then, were Rezin, King of Syria (Aram) and Pekah, son of Remaliah, King of Israel.

You can read about this period of time in II Chronicles 27, to help you get a clearer picture.

Sunday Morning Coffee: A Little Nervous

When my alarm went off at six this morning, It took me a few beeps to swim up out of the delicious comfort of the first good night’s sleep I’ve had in four days. I think I’m just not active enough to really be tired, and my nights have been restless. Last night was good, though, and I’m thankful.  I’d decided it was time to try going back to church, and this is the day!

The pain has been quiet for a good two weeks.  No pain meds needed, for which my liver is thankful🙂 That doesn’t mean the problem is healed; it just means I’ve been very quiet and have kept as much pressure as possible off that joint.

So today, I’m going to try sitting through church, and I’m nervous. There is just no way I want that pain back, and it’s still a little over a month before I get the surgery. I miss church, though, and I feel fairly safe in doing this today.  If I become uncomfortable, I can always  get up and move to the back of the auditorium where I won’t be a distraction if I stand for a while.going_to_church

 

On Friday, two lovely friends from church came and spent several hours with me.  We laughed, and we were serious, and we laughed some more. It made me realize how much I’ve missed the fellowship of my church family, and the preaching and teaching we get there. I think perhaps the most difficult part of this time of being set aside is that I’ve never missed so many Sundays, ever, in my entire life.

One of the things my friends and I discussed was the time I spent in Slovakia in 2015. The people there are hungry for the gospel.  I will never forget thinking I’d speak for about 20 minutes at a Bible study, and being amazed when the women kept me there answering all sorts of questions for over three hours.  In America, we’re saturated with the Word. We get it all the time, and I believe we take it for granted. We do NOT want to sit for over three hours to listen, ask questions, pray and learn together. We’ll sit that long for a football game, or a good movie–but not for preaching.  Too long.  Too boring. Yet those women crave to hear answers from God’s Word, and would have kept me there even longer if they hadn’t had children and families to tend to at home.

Well.  A little rambling this morning, but this Sunday morning post is a good place for rambling🙂

I’m nervous, but I’m looking forward to being back in church this morning.  I hope that you all will enjoy your own church gatherings today, wherever they may be.

Amazing!

Every now and then,  someone shares something on Facebook that I just have to share myself.  I’ve already shared the post, but then I went looking for something else that I could easily use here on my blog.

Derek is an autistic savant. Music is his gift; that, and his love of people. He’s gregarious, obviously brilliant, and his story is inspiring.  Please take a look at this video:

As much as we’ve learned about the human brain, I don’t think we’ve even come close to delving into all that it can produce. This man’s gift leaves me amazed.  Because I love music, and because I always dreamed of being able to sit at the piano and make it do my bidding, I am always entranced by stories like this one.

By the way, I never made it much past “average” as a pianist, but that has never destroyed my love  for playing the instrument. These days, my fingers aren’t so limber and I’m a bit of a plodder, so I mostly keep my music  to the confines of my own house.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream🙂

 

P.S.  You don’t have to watch the other stuff on the video. Weird. But don’t miss the rest of Derek’s story once you get past the other stuff🙂

 

 

 

 

 

A Study Tool

Back in Bible college,  I remember having to memorize the lists of all the kings of the united kingdom of Israel, and then the divided kingdom. Along with those lengthy lists, we also had to memorize which prophets  were working under which king.  You know how long that exercise stayed in my head?  Just long enough to take the test!

I wish I’d had the internet back then.  I got to thinking about all that last night, and decided to see if I could find a chart showing all that information. Bingo!  Less than two minutes.   One of my favorite sites is http://www.biblegateway.com, and that’s where I found this chart.  It can be useful in many ways as you are studying through the Old Testament, showing which King of Judah, for instance, went to war with which King of Israel. So here it is, and I hope you find it helpful. Once you get there, you can click on the chart itself and move it around to find the time period you’re interested in.

Chart of Israel’s and Judah’s Kings and Prophets