ISAIAH 7:1 – 9:21 and TITUS 2:1–15
The next section of Isaiah covers many wonderful insights into the future life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. As mentioned in the last chapter it takes a person of high quality and distinction in order to be able to have the insights and prophetic voice of the magnitude seen in Isaiah. So many people desire such an office and countless more position themselves as being God’s prophet for the hour. There is no denying the call and need for true prophetic voices in these last days. We must however be reminded that there are many other priests and prophets that fall into the category of ill equipped ministers.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Isaiah, as we saw in the last chapter had a divine encounter with the living God. He allowed God to expose some of the hidden areas of taint that had to be revealed and removed. It was necessary due to the weight of the message and revelation that he was going to receive. In the next several chapters (7-12) Isaiah will have tremendous insights into the person of Jesus Christ. He has revelation of His birth and of His ministry. Let’s take note of both the message that Isaiah is to bring forth and of the process involved that brought him to this place. There are many Isaiah’s that the Lord is looking to raise up today.
The period that Isaiah is now ministering in is under the reign of King Ahaz. He was a wicked apostate who never sought the Lord and only continued in adding sin to sin. Judah was under threat by Syria and their northern neighbours. In the midst of this turbulence was God’s prophet Isaiah who was able to speak peace and stability to the chaos. We see this later on when Sennacherib, the king of Assyria attempts an assault against Judah. King Hezekiah will be reigning when this happens. What a comfort this is when oppression of the enemy is evident. He knows God and is able to bring the Word of God and that wonderful fruit of Peace that can calm any storm. In spite of the enemies plans they cannot go beyond the boundaries that the Lord has established. A prophet who walks close with the Lord comes to know His heart and knows that which God has declared. Moses had this measure of “faith” when he stood with Israel at the brink of the Red Sea (Exo 14:14). The children of Israel could only see the water in front of them and the enemy coming at them from behind. Moses could see and understand what God was doing that others could not appreciate. In verse 7 we see that it was not the Lord’s will to give Israel into the hands of their enemy. We will later see judgements coming upon Syria which indeed did take place in 732 BC. The northern kingdom of Israel was besieged by Assyria in 722 BC. No matter how impossible a situation may look it is the Lord that has the final say.
In verse 10-16 we have insights with regard to the virgin birth of Christ. The Lord through Isaiah prompted King Ahaz to ask for a sign that God would come through for them in the midst of their troubles. God truly wanted to reveal the mystery of the coming incarnation of Christ. This was a moment where God was looking to reveal a profound truth and insight regarding the future birth of the Saviour of mankind. Judah in the natural was in an impossible situation and God was going to come through for them even in spite of their disobedience. God wanted to use this opportunity to speak of the miracle and natural impossibility of the Incarnation. The refusal of Ahaz to ask for a sign was false piety on his part. In spite of Ahaz’s refusal God gives the sign of that which was to come. The sign was that there would be a virgin that would conceive, bearing a son who would be called “Immanuel”. There is a dual fulfilment here seeing that Isaiah’s wife was a prophetess and was able to have a son as seen in Isa 8:3. The primary fulfilment however is the future foretelling of the Saviour of mankind. It says of Him that he shall eat “butter and honey” all His days (vs 15). This speaks of a daily feeding upon the Word of God. The fruits of such feeding are that He will be able to discern good from evil. Do we appreciate the gift that the Lord had in being able to discern the issues of the heart within man? This is such a key for us; a steady diet of feeding on the Word of God will help prepare us to know the times and seasons as well as being able to discern the intents and wiles of the enemy. It is the continuing in the Word of God that enables us to know the Truth and allowing the Truth to liberate us (John 8:31-32).
In verses 17-20 the future invasion by the king of Assyria is prophesied. Ahaz refused to take correction and resorted to turning again to idols. The nation as a whole was only too eager to follow his lead. One can only imagine the great lament that Isaiah had in seeing his message and warnings going unheeded. The cost of being a true prophet is a very high one. In verses 21-25 we see the future decimation that will come upon the land due to their idolatry and disobedience. There seemed to be no shortage of warnings to the consequences of their actions but in the end it did not matter because they continued down their wayward path. The Assyrian army did indeed besiege Israel, their neighbours to the north but they also later encroached upon Judah. By this time Judah had a righteous king but they were reaping the consequences of the sins of their fathers.
In verse 1-4 we see an immediate fulfilment of the sign given to Ahaz as the wife of Isaiah gives birth to a son by the name of Mahershalalhashbaz. Interestingly, one of the meanings of his name is “and the prey hastens”. In a matter of just two more years the city of Damascus was taken by the king of Assyria. In 722 the Assyrians would besiege the northern tribes of Israel bringing to an end the line of kings that began with Jeroboam.
In verses 5-8 we see that the Assyrians will also plunder much of Judah. It speaks of Judah refusing the waters of Shiloh which speak of their refusal to partake of good and pleasant doctrines. Judah was constantly warned of idolatry and other vices from various prophets but they chose to serve God on an inconsistent basis. This is reflected through the lives of the kings that had reign over them. There were some very good kings as well as very wicked ones. It will be during the reign of one of the good kings (Hezekiah) where the Assyrians will be stopped and destroyed. Prior to this however the Assyrians will strike terror and fear into the hearts of the people.
In verses 8-10 the Word of the Lord is going forth to other nations to not seek an alliance against Israel. Their planning, counsel and evil intent would not prevail. We need to see how God is always in control. This also helps to persuade us to seek the mind of the Lord at all times so that we are aligned to his thoughts and purposes. A close walk with the Lord will result in such experiences.
In verses 11-13 the prophet speaks as to the Lord being our sanctuary. In the troublous times that were to come the Lord stresses the importance of seeing Him as the sanctuary and strong tower that people can run into (Pro 18:10). Our tendency is to look to man and boast in our strength at such times but the only true refuge is the Lord Himself. In today’s world Christianity is becoming increasingly isolated and maligned. You can see the demonic influence manifesting in its daily assaults against morality and Christian values. Now more than ever we need to realize we are not wrestling against flesh and blood; the weapons and tactics have to become spiritual in order to stand strong and upright against its flow. We cannot look to government to solve the problem; it is a turning back to God in whole-hearted repentance.
In verses 16-17 we see the key to victory is in the seeking and upholding of the laws of God. Is this any surprise as we have surveyed through the Bible this past year? It is the Law that serves as the remedy. Why the Law? It defines God and who He is. Why the Law? It gives strength and life to sin so that we can see it and seek to deal with it. Why the Law? It makes clear who we are and how undone and unrighteous we truly are in of ourselves. It is the Law; it is the law it is the law.
In verse 18 we see one of the primary calling of a prophet. He is not only to speak a message but to also be that message. It is similar to what Paul spoke to the Corinthians in 2 Cor 3:2-3. He spoke of the need in being a living epistle. Our life must back up the message. One of the primary problems seen in the days of King Ahaz is that people sought after familiar spirits. The fascination with witchcraft and the occult becomes acute prior to significant moves of God. This is clearly seen throughout the Book of Revelation. There is heightened spiritual activity around significant events. There are those spirits that operate that are blatantly opposed to the things of God and can be clearly seen. The more dangerous ones are those not easily discerned. They are deadly due to their stealth like tendencies in being able to shield their true objectives. In fact, you will find that they can pose as angels of light who declare their allegiance to the good path. This is why we must be a people who eat “butter and honey” all our days so that we too can be like the Lord, having an ability to discern that which is good from evil (Isa 7:15). Isaiah certainly had that ability.
The first two verses are repeated in Math 4:14-16 referring to the area where Jesus did much of His preaching while upon the earth. It was traditionally an area of great darkness but became enlightened as Jesus began to walk and teach in that region. Here you see a great contrast which is similar to that which Isaiah later speaks about in Isa 60. On one hand you have the glory of the Lord rising upon a land with simultaneous gross darkness upon the earth. This was characteristic of much of Isaiah’s prophecies. He was speaking a message of pending judgement but had the ability to bring the perspective of light to the people and places he ministered to. His prophetic messages have clear implication for a future time as well. Isaiah could be in the midst of a difficult crisis while bringing a Word of hope and deliverance. Isaiah had a very clear revelation of the Son of God consisting of the time of his birth, his earthly ministry and future millennial reign. He could speak of a mini apocalypse as seen in Isa 24 in contrast to the prophetic fulfilment of the Spirit of the Lord coming upon Jesus (Isa 61:1-3). There is no greater prophet who can speak to the subject of darkness and light like Isaiah.
In verses 3-5 we have a picture of some of the events that take place at the millennial reign of Christ. The first two verses refer to the Lord’s first coming. Isaiah is truly a well-rounded prophet. In verse 6 we have one of the most prophetical pictures of Christ ever given. This familiar verse gives a chronological sequence to the life of Christ. His birth is first seen in the statement “a child is born”. “A son is given” depicts the Lord at the Jordan as a mature Son. “The government upon His shoulders speaks to the authority Jesus had against the testing’s from the enemy. He was the governor of the universe. He was “wonderful” a marvel to behold. He had such beauty, grace and authority in everything He did. He was anointed with the Spirit of “Counsel” He sought His Father’s pre-determined will at all times. The final attributes of “the Mighty God, everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” all speak to His majesty and greatness. What a beautiful revelation Isaiah had concerning the Saviour to come.
We see in verse 7 a picture of the Lord reigning as a Judge in the millennium. His kingdom is one that will be based on everlasting righteousness which is a far cry from what we see in the earth today. The earth continues to cry out for the manifestations of the sons and daughters of God. In verses 8-12 a word of judgement is presented to the 10 northern tribes of Israel featuring Ephraim in Samaria. They would not receive correction and declared that even after their city is torn down they would rebuild and become even stronger. They cannot acknowledge their sin, repent and allow the Lord to restore them. This is a picture of the fullness of pride; a characteristic of man that will be on full display in the days leading up to the time of the antichrist. Since the inhabitants of Samaria will not repent God will raise up other enemies to deal with them.
In verses 13-21 we see the horrible consequences that come upon the leaders and the land of Israel. They did not uphold the laws of God so He will cut them off. The kings were wicked and never departed from the sins of their father Jeroboam. He established his own altar at Bethel and placed priests who were base to perform the office of the priesthood. This was in direct violation of what the Lord required and the result was an open door to all forms of wickedness. There is no mistaking the Lord’s wrath as His judgements are poured out upon the stout-hearted men of Israel. This is one of the greatest lessons in seeing what happens when seeking to serve the Lord on our own terms. Hopefully these examples will prove instructive to us.
Paul is going to now address the subject of sound doctrine to Titus. This is a subject very much on the heart of Paul as he imparts final instructions to his spiritual sons in the faith. The term sound doctrine or sound faith is used 9 times throughout the Pastoral Epistles. True doctrine results in change on our part before God and people in a manner that is wholesome, uncorrupted and healthy. There are all kinds of food that we eat on a daily basis; some of which is healthy and others which we consider to be junk. The same is true with much of the doctrine seen in churches. Paul wrote to Timothy that “sound doctrine’ will not be palatable to men in the last days. Why is this so? Sound doctrine gets to the heart of matter. Many do not like the light of God’s Word shining in the inner most recesses of the heart. They would rather teach and preach Heb 4:12 rather than experience its reality.
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The older men are to be sober, sound in the faith and temperate. There needs to be a proper bridge between the older generations to the young. The temperament and experience gained through life would prove most valuable to the generation that is arising. The enemy works hard to keep the divide wide amongst the generations because he knows the potential of the younger ones. The older men and women have more of a ministry than they know if they take to heart Paul’s exhortation to Titus. The older men and women have so much more to offer than they realize. In verse 3-5 Paul speaks concerning the impact that older women can have towards the younger ones.
In verses 6-8 Paul writes concerning young men. They are to be sober minded while showing forth a pattern of good works. This is becoming increasingly difficult to do in today’s secularized society. We need to understand the tactics and focus of the enemy as he goes about targeting the younger generation. The entrapments of worldly pleasures are ever beckoning the young Disciples of Christ. Once the enemy’s tactics and game plan are known it becomes easier to pray more effectively. Our prayers become targeted, having more of a focus behind them. It appears in this chapter that Paul is instructing Titus, among other things, to seek to bridge the gaps between generations and find ways to help them work seamlessly together. There is instruction given as to how servants are to be treated in addition as to how we are to respond to people who have authority over us.
In verses 12-15 Paul instructs Titus to live each day soberly, with a constant awareness of the Lord’s coming. This will affect the way we live our lives and how we go about conducting our daily business. It should also propel us to do all we can to teach and live out the Gospel message so as to fulfil the Great Commission. Paul lived his life in this manner; he embodies the prayer of Moses in numbering his days. So should we! (Psa 90:12)