Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Promised Children

I haven't talked much yet about my intensive bible study since it started up in early September. This year we're studying Isaiah. I have always been confused and afraid by Isaiah -- my common response when flipping it open and reading a passage has been, "What IS he talking about?" It's such a blessing to open the Word with other people to sort through the maze together.

We're 6 weeks in and only up to Isaiah 9 so far. But oh my! How filled those 9 chapters are! Woes and punishment, an angry God and a mission that would bear no fruit... and hidden amongst the negativity, 4 very special promised children.

Most people know that Christ was prophesied about in Isaiah, but they've only heard the selected passages read during Advent. It's absolutely amazing to see, even in just these nine small chapters, how much actually points to Christ. It's so much more than what you've heard. But first, the other 3:

The first promised child was actually already born when we meet him in Isaiah 7. He's Isaiah's son, Shear-Jashub. His special name means "A remant will return." His name was a promise and a prophetic message to the people of Judah.

The second is one that many people miss. In Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah prophesies a sign from God: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." This is one of those Christmas verses most people have heard once or twice (a year... every year). What most people DON'T realize is the context: This is one of those common (and I'd never noticed before) Now-And-Later prophesies in the old testiment. You can tell the "now" from v. 16 -- "But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste." This was fulfilled when the King of Assyria swept in a few years later. The "later" (Christ) is actually a little hidden, even though it's the one we're more familiar with. And, actually, I have a hard time seeing it myself, so feel free to refute me! I'm drawing this from several respected theologians and the study notes. According to them, the reference to Christ is in v. 13 when Isaiah addresses not King Ahaz (who he was previously speaking to), but the whole house of David. I never knew about the earlier child before, who was also called Immanuel, meaning God with us. I have some more research to do!

The third promised child was another of Isaiah's sons. This son was born in 8:1-4 and was named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. That's a mouthful, isn't it! I must say, that one didn't make the list for our Little Somebody. His name means "Quick to plunder, swift to spoil." Verse 4 tells us what this means: "Before the boy knows how to say 'My father' or 'My mother,' the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria." Destruction against Judah's enemies will come quickly, even though in chapter 7 (and child #2) we find out that Judah will be overrun (But! According to child #1, a remnant will remain!).

Oh! And the long-awaited fourth child! I bet you can guess who this is!

6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Four promised children. Four prophetic names, rich with meaning and understanding. And four reasons to hope, even in the midst of Isaiah's messyness. I just had to share!

God bless you on this Wednesday!

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