Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Monday, December 9, 2013

Isaiah Chapter 7

This chapter has more to do with having faith that the Lord will complete His work and honor His promises than anything else. 

Make sure you read this chapter thoroughly before you start. Have your bible handy to refer back to. I will not be typing out too much of the chapter but will be referring to the verses. I don't want it to get too wordy.
The study of this chapter has led me to see the beauty of a faithful heart and the hardness and emptiness of the life of a person who follows his own way. (insert info on Hezikiah)

To start the chapter we have king Ahaz and the people of Judah  "shaking in their boots" over information that the northern kingdom of Israel and Aram were preparing to try to subdue the southern kingdom, Judah, Ahaz's kingdom, again.

 I say again because they had done this before. In 2Chron.28:5-15, we read the story of one of the invasions where the kingdom of Judah was defeated. The people of Judah were cruelly carried off by the northern kingdom of Israel and Aram (Syria). In that situation the Lord intervened by sending a prophet who shamed their Israelite brothers into letting them go. So they fed the hungry, and redressed the naked and delivered them to their brothers in Jericho.

 The salvation of Ahaz and his people clearly came at the direct hand of the Lord in this earlier situation. 

Now, in chapter 7:1-12 , we have Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem about to be under siege again. It is obvious that the earlier invasion where the people were saved by the hand of God had made no impression on Ahaz.  When he is again faced with invasion, he really doesn't want to hear from, or co-operate with, the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah does what God directs him to do. He takes his son named, "A remnant shall return" and he goes down to the cities water supply to meet with the king as he checks the cities  incoming water. Then the Lord speaks to Ahaz through Isaiah. 

He tells him "take care, be calm, do not be fainthearted". Per Eerdman's, the Hebrew indicates...Be careful, be calm, do nothing .
Isaiah goes on to tell Ahaz the enemies plans of destruction for them but berates Aram and Israel as weak and unable to effect anything. He keeps calling the King of Aram the "son of Ramaliah". He does this to remind Ahaz that he is the "son of David", while the king of Aram is a son of "Ramaliah" a nobody.

In verse 7:7 the Lord says that the destruction  just isn't going to happen. Their plans will come to nothing and as a matter of fact, Ephraim won't even be considered among God's people anymore. But, then Isaiah says; If you won't believe, you will not last. This still made no impression on Ahaz.

This is such a beautiful picture of the Lord reaching out to Ahaz and asking him to trust. He clearly gives  Ahaz details of trouble coming  to his life that people rarely get (I sure wish He would do this for me sometime) and yet, Ahaz would rather handle the situation his own way. Ahaz had no desire to wait and see what the mighty hand of God would do.

On the surface, Ahaz's response, in verse 7:12,  might appear like a godly attitude but really what transpired was Ahaz was barely listening to Isaiah. He had no intention of regarding a sign from God as proof of  His intent to keep Judah safe. Ahaz was intent on his own course and his own abilities to handle the situation. Basically, He didn't want God's help. That's what prompts the response from Isaiah in verse 7:13.

Notice that in verses 7:13-16,  Isaiah is addressing the "house of David", not just Ahaz. 

These next verses are some of the most famous in the bible. They are verses associated with Christmas. They are a prophesy about Jesus.
These verses are very familiar to most of us, however the familiarity can cause us to miss some key details that are in this verse.

 We have very little info about Jesus as an infant. This verse tells us that even Jesus had a time when He did not know good from evil. He was too young to understand the difference and therefore He was unable to sin. We know that Jesus was without sin,(2:Cor.5:21). But, what about other infants, unborn babies and particularly people who perish before they can reach the age of understanding good and evil.

There has been a long standing belief that babies, who die too early or are aborted, automatically go to hell. This belief comes from the doctrine adopted from the writings of a man who lived in the second century AD named Augustine (354-430AD).  Today, it is called the Doctrine of "original sin". He based his 
beliefs on Rom.5:12-21 and 1st Cor. 15:22.


His assertion is that all people are born under the burden of original sin. The sin has been passed down from Adam to us and there is no escape. Death came to all of us this way. Which is true. There was no death before Adam and Eve sinned.

 The part of Augustine's doctrine that I don't understand is how all human beings dieing translates to all human beings going to hell even before they have a chance to know good from evil. I do agree with Romans 5:12-21 and Augustine that all men die a physical death and that all men, if they live long enough, are doomed to sin. There is no question about that. But ,Augustine's assertion that physical dieing and going to hell are equal to the same thing is what I am questioning. His doctrine has innocents going straight to hell if they perish before there is any hope of salvation through belief in Christ.

 Before Adam and Eve sinned, they did not know good from evil. They were not going to die. (Gen.2:16-17)
The word for "know" here in Isaiah 7:15 and the word for "knowing" in Gen.3:22 ,referring to Adam and Eve, Is from the same root word in the Hebrew.
Young infants and unborn babies spend time in the same state as Adam and Eve in so far as they have a time when they do not know good from evil. 

Even Augustine himself found this idea unimaginable, so the doctrine of infant baptism was instituted. If you are not familiar with that, the idea is that if you baptize a baby, by pouring water over it's head, and saying some holy words, you can save it's little soul from hell. I can't agree with this. Baptism is an outward manifestation of an inward transformation.

I am not trying to throw out anyone's beliefs. I am just sorting through some of the things that we have blindly taken for granted. I myself have never actually thought about the doctrine of original sin until now. I am now sorting through this whole idea and I am asking you to do the same. I think that it is important to know why we believe what we believe.

I know for sure that I do not believe that an infant can be saved from hell by having water sprinkled on it's head. But, I also do not believe that infants that die before they have reached the age of knowing good from evil, automatically go to hell.

I am no expert! And ultimately, what is true, is true. But it will take eternity to prove out any of our ideas when it comes to these doctrines.

These are some of the scriptures that have shaped my opinion on these subjects.

Psalm 139:13-18, David talks about his time in the womb with the Lord. David was keenly aware of the Lord's hand even in the forming of his unborn body. 

We forget this private time, in secret, that all humans have with the Lord. It's a time before each human knows good from evil. In verse 139:16, David says. "Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance" David is talking here about when he was a blobby embryo and he had the complete focus of the almighty God. 

I believe that the Lord has personally constructed every baby that has ever been in the womb,and all of their days are recorded in the Lord's book of days (psalm 139:16). He knows when and if, they will walk the earth for even one day. 

In Ezek. 16:20-21, the Lord is speaking to His people about sacrificing their infants in the fire to other god's. He says, "you slaughtered "my children, and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire". He calls the helpless infants "His children". Could He possibly send "His children" automatically to hell before they even know  the difference between good and evil?

We know that the Lord's heart is for the weak, the helpless and the poor. 

I know a few ladies who suffer because they had an abortion before they knew of the gracious saving power of the Lord. They have been told that they sent their little one to eternal damnation. My God is the savior of the weak and the helpless. In Matt. 19:14 Jesus says, "Let the little children alone, and do not keep them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these". 

This is all I'm going to write about this subject. I know what the doctrine of the infant baptizers is, so please don't write to me assuming that I don't know the verses they use to justify their beliefs. Simply know that their rational and beliefs came from one man's interpretation of the scriptures. (this is why reading and studying on your own is so important)

So, time to finish this chapter. In 7:17-20,
Isaiah, having reached the end of pleading with Ahaz to trust the Lord, tells the king what is going to happen to him and his people. Remember in the beginning of this chapter it's the coalition between Aram and the Jewish brother country, Israel, that Ahaz and the people are afraid of. Isaiah informs him that it is the king of Assyria that he should fear. 

We read in 2 Chron.28:16-26, that Ahaz goes to the king of Assyria to take care of the problem himself. 
Read how that turned out.

He says the Lord will control the armies as if they were swarms of bugs and with swarms of locusts will be numerous and everywhere , devouring and destroying everything.In verse 7:20 it says the "Lord will shave with a razor, hired from the regions beyond the Euphrates (again the Assyrians)." This was an indication that the men would be humiliated and left to mourn. The Jewish men did not shave or even, trim their beards. They believed that Lev.19:27 forbid it.
Isaiah is telling Ahaz that he and the men of his people would be humiliated and left with absolutely nothing.
The next verses to the end of the chapter are not hopeful verses for Ahaz and the people who usually lived fortunate easy lives but they were very encouraging verses for the people who were left in the land. 

Remember,in 2nd Kings 24:14, we are told that only the poorest of the land were left when Judah was taken into captivity. So these last few verses of the chapter, are the time when only the poorest people were to be left in the land.

 In verse 7:21, it talks about a man keeping alive a heifer and a pair of sheep. This would be a man left behind from the captives. A poor man, one of the poorest in the land. He now has a heifer and two sheep! 
In verse 7:22, Isaiah speaks of his animals producing milk, as a matter of fact, they produce so much that he has enough to make curds from his milk. This will happen through out the land for everyone who is left. All the poor will now have an ample supply of milk but not just milk. The sweetness of the land will come to them too. Everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey! They fed that to their babies. We know that from verse 7:15.

These verses are a promise to the poor. They are going to have abundant food. Their children will be well fed, the bees will be busy in the fields that will go to seed and the brambles will be full of wild game that they can hunt. There would be food for the poor who were going to be left behind.
 These verses would sound so threatening to Ahaz but they would have been verses of hope to the poor. 
All of the fields that were forbidden to the poor when they were owned by the rich, which had towers built in them to keep the hungry poor out (Isa. 1:8) are now unguarded. The rich would not allow them to become full of brambles, but the poor will use the
same manicured fields to pasture the flocks the Lord has given them.  



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