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2012年03月19日

“Being still before God”

Isaiah7:1-9 “Being still before God”




 



              Today
let’s start chapter 7 of Isaiah.  This is
a passage that we looked at last year during Advent, but let’s look at it again
within the context of what we have studied from chapter 1 on.   When we look at it in this way, we will be
able to see it in a completely new light. 
Today I would like to talk about “being still before God”, the title of
this message, from this passage.



 



I.           King
Ahaz’s is shaken (Vs. 1, 2)



              Please
look at verses 1 and 2. Verse 1 says, “When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of
Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram
and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel
marched up to fight against Jerusalem,
but they could not overpower it.” Isaiah was commissioned as a prophet in the year
that King Uzziah died.  Right after that
King Uzziah’s son, Jotham, also died. Jotham’s son, Ahaz, was enthroned as              king.  This was about 735 B.C. About that time a
huge event occurred. Aram
and Israel attacked Jerusalem.  Aram
is Syria, a huge country
north of its neighboring country, Northern Israel.  Judah is a very small country. All
of Judah is about the size
of Japan’s Shikoku.
If this small of a country is attacked, it is very easily taken.  However, if we look at this verse, “they could
not overpower it.” (1)



              The
background of this passage is recorded in II Chronicles 28. If you look at it, Aram and Israel
attacked Judah, caused great
damage, and took many of Judeans as prisoners and brought them back to their
countries, Syria and Samaria.  However, when Israel
returned to Samaria,
the prophet, Obed, appeared.  What the
prophet says is recorded in II Chronicles 28:9 to 11. “Because the LORD, the
God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your
hand.  But you have slaughtered them in a
rage that reaches to heaven.  And now you
intend to make the women of Judah
and Jerusalem
your slaves.  But aren’t you also guilty
of sins against the LORD your God?  Now
listen to me! Send back your fellow Israelites you have taken as prisoners, for
the LORD’s fierce anger rests on you.”



              Israel was
originally one country. However in 931 B.C. it was divided into Northern Israel
and Southern Judah.  Therefore, it was unthinkable that Israel would attack Judah. The prophet, Obed, exclaims,
“Aren’t you also guilty of sins against the LORD your God?” He warns them that
if they do such things, the Lord’s fierce anger will come upon them. Therefore,
they should send back their fellow Israelites that they had taken as
prisoners.  Therefore, Israel sent them back to Judah.  This is what is meant by “they could not
overpower it.” (1)



              However,
verse 2 says, “Now the house of David was told, ‘Aram has allied itself with Epharim’;
so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest
are shaken by the wind.” When the news came to Ahaz and the people of Judah, “the
hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken.” (2) The trees of the forest when
there is no wind stand quietly, but when there is even a little wind blowing,
each bough on every tree is shaken by the wind and is constantly on the move.
As the wind gradually becomes stronger, the sound becomes louder. “The hearts
of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by
the wind.” (2) It is like how we are shaken when we meet troubles in our life
or when something happens that we would never dream of happening. When we meet
such troubles, our hearts are badly shaken up. We try to do this or that in
order to get a hold on ourselves, but it is difficult to control ourselves. We
fall into confusion.  Ahaz also was like
this. He too also tried to get a hold on his shaken heart by requesting help
from the country, Assyria and tried to
eliminate the problem.



              This
is human thinking. When some kind of problem occurs, man on the spot talks
about solutions and plans for survival. Just like buying instant food at the
convenient store, on the spot they try to put the gods of survival in their
hands.  However this may just bring a
temporary solution, but is not the real solution. Judah
seeking help from Assyria may have helped them
survive the dangerous spot they were in, but afterwards the real danger will
come. An event like “Yesterday’s friend is tomorrow’s enemy” occurs. They are
threatened by Assyria. By Ahaz making an
alliance with Assyria, it certainly looks
consistent, but this was repaid back in much greater amount to them 30 years
later.



 



II.             
Keep calm (vs. 3,4)



Verses 3 and 4
are the solution.  Please look at there
verses.



The Lord tells
Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz.” (3) “Shear-Jashub”
(3) means “the remnant will return”. 
This is a sign for Judah.
It is a sign of how Judah
will be kept in the midst of such a severe danger.  It is a promise of salvation and life for the
faithful beyond the imminent doom of the unfaithful.  Judah may suffer, but a remnant
will remain. Isaiah was to take his “son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end
of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field.” (3)
That was because Ahaz was there.



This “aqueduct
of the Upper Pool” (3) was on the outside of the Jerusalem
wall was the aqueduct that brought the water from the upper pool in the valley of Gihon
to the west side of the city of Jerusalem.  The reason Ahaz is here is he heard that  “Aram has allied itself with Epharim”
(2) and thought that the first thing they should do would be to destroy this
aqueduct. Frightened, Ahaz had decided to inspect the water supply to his city
rather than to look to the real Supply of his strength. Here we can see he is
shaken. Then Isaiah says to him, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be
afraid.  Do not lose heart because of
these two smoldering subs of firewood-because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the
son of Remaliah.” (4)



“Be careful” (4)
means “pay attention”. It does not mean to be alert for an attack by the enemy,
but “be careful” (4), pay attention to how you should act in such a situation; “be
careful” (4), pay attention to how you should respond. Also, “be calm” (4) does
not mean that against such an enemy attack they should take some kind of action,
but that they should “be calm” (4) and put their hope in the Lord who take
action and take care of the problem.  “Don’t
be afraid” (4) means to not worry, to stand strongly. In Ahaz’s heart, by
joining hands with Assyria in order to protect
themselves from the Northern powers he would act like an honorable politician.
However, Isaiah didn’t see him that way. Ahaz was like someone holding on tight
to a tiger’s tail. Here the problem is clear. Salvation is either by faith or
by works. You are either saved by depending on the Lord or by the works of shrewd
political bets.  Isaiah said to depend on
the Lord and be saved. 



If you look well
at this passage you will see that the central thing that is being said is to “be
calm”. (4) In other words, to depend on the Lord is to “be calm”. (4) However,
this is very difficult to do. When everyone is in a commotion it is easy to be
stirred up with everyone. It is difficult to oppose it and “be calm”. (4) It
could be that we are not looking at what we should be looking at.  We are looking at the difficult situation in
front of us. If we aren’t looking at something greater than this, then we can’t
“be calm”. (4)



This word “be
calm” (4) originally means “to put one’s self completely in something” like
water. If you put yourself completely in something like water then you can “be
calm”. (4)  That something is God.  There are times when we see or hear things
that trouble us.  Also there are times
when we get involved in such difficulties. 
However, we shouldn’t put ourselves completely in such things, but put
ourselves completely in God. That is being clam.  Lot’s of
things happen before our eyes, many things pass through our ears, but we
shouldn’t be interested in such things, but put all of our attention on God. In
the temple in Nikko
there are the honorable monkeys. Those monkeys, “See no evil, speak no evil,
and hear no evil.” They cover their eyes, mouth, and ears with both hands.  During their adolescence there are many
temptations, but they shut out all these things by not looking at them. When we
put ourselves completely in the situations around us, we are stirred up by
uncertainties and being shaken, but when we are completely in God, we can go
out in conquest. This is difficult to do by our reasoning. There are times when
it is necessary that we need to depend on God even when it denies our
reasoning.



When we are
tired or are having a difficult time, we go to the hot springs then it really feels good. There
are many different hot springs like Sakuyama hot springs or Aoki hot
springs. When we put our bodies completely in the
water at the hot springs,
our hearts become warm.  It is just like
a baby in her mother’s womb.  It feels so
good.  A scholar said that is man’s original
form of peacefulness. However, the hot
springs isn’t enough for man to be peaceful.  To put ourselves completely in God and to
have confidence that no matter what happens that God will surely watch over us
will bring us real peace.  When King Ahaz
faced the trouble of Epharim and Aram
attacking, he thought if he joined hands with Assyria,
then he would be saved. However, not like this, not looking further away, but
looking at God that we can’t see and putting ourselves completely in him is
necessary.   



 



III.           
God is our strength (vs. 4-9)



Thirdly, let’s look at the reason why depending upon God is the real
solution.  Please look at verses 4 to
9.  The first reason is because God is almighty.
“Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood- because
of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah.” (4)



Isaiah told Ahaz, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.” (4)
and then Isaiah tells him what the two countries he fears are like.  He says they are nothing more than “two
smoldering stubs of firewood”. (4) They are not a powerful roaring fire              burning well, but the smoldering
stubs are burning with such little strength that you can hardly tell if they
are burning or not burning.  In man’s
eyes not matter how           they look,
before God they are nothing more than a smothering stub with no power.



When we run into a problem the real problem is we look at the
problem.  We take it upon ourselves.  When we do that the problem becomes a big
pressure that knocks us down. Franklin Roosevelt who was a president that used
a wheel chair, was famous for his words, “The only one thing that must be
feared is fear itself.” There is only one thing that we must fear, that is fear
itself. If we look at the problem itself, then we become fearful.  However, if we look at God, if we put
ourselves completely in God, the problem looks small. That is because God is
almighty. If we look at problems from God’s eyes, they are nothing more than
smoldering stubs.



 



There is an American movie called Cinderella Man.  It is a human drama movie based upon a legendary
pro-boxer, James Braddock who earnestly tried to seize a chance for his family
who was in despairing poverty during the Great Depression of 1929. He had been
injured from game after game of exhaustion. He had his boxing license
temporarily revoked. Then James who lost his job boxing, lived with his wife
and kids while working daily manual work as longshoreman. Their lives were poor
with verily enough money to buy food. Finally, thanks to a last-minute
cancellation by another boxer, he was given a chance to box in just one game
and make a little money for his family. 
From then he fought up the ranks to obtain a right to fight in the one
time only world heavy weight championship against Max Baer, the champ, who
reportedly had killed at least two men in the ring. Baer was thought to be
invincible.  However, no matter how much
James was hit, he continued to the 15th round without being knocked
out. James defeated Baer to become the heavyweight champion of the world. He
won because he didn’t see his opponent like a huge bear.  He won because  of the words that his wife spoke to him
before the game rang in his heart. She proclaimed, “Don’t forget who you are.
You are the pride of New Jersey,
the star of people’s hopes. You are the children’s hero, and you are the
champion of my heart. James J. Barrdock, please come home.” James didn’t look
at his opponent as if he was a bear. He fought with voice of his wife and the
people in his heart.



God who is with us is stronger than anything in this world.  If we put ourselves in this almighty God, God
will fight for us. And he will do as the Bible promises.  Therefore, let’s put ourselves in God’s
hands, and hold onto the promises of the Word of God, and by God face the
difficulties we have.



The second reason is in verses 5 to 7.



Vs. 5-7



“It” (8) is Aram’s
and Ephraim’s wrong.  They tried to
dethrone Ahaz and put in a king that would do everything that they said. They
were going to “make the son of Tabeel king.” (6) However, “It will not take
place, it will not happen.” (7) Instead what is written in verse 8 will happen.
“For the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five
years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.”



This means Aram
and Ephraim who were very prideful would be shattered. Within 65 years Ephraim
was shattered! As was expected, this actually occurred.  Isaiah prophesized this from 735 B.C. to 734 B.C..
but many years later Assyria attacked Aram and 10 years later attacked
Ephraim. In other words, Assyrian attacked North Israel
and destroyed it.  Then he took many of
its citizens to Assyria also he sent many foreigners from the lands that
Assyria had conquered to Israel.
Their intermarriage with the few Israelite who had not been deported resulted
in the “Samaritans” and, marked the end of Ephairm as a separate nation. In the
New Testament there are many stories about the Samaritans for example the
Samaritan Woman or the Good Samaritan. 
These Samariatans were born at this time when the foreigners that where
in Assyria came to Northern Israel and
intermarried with them. If you look at Ezra 4:10 you will see that the Assyrian
King, Ashurbanipal, deported and settled many foreigners in Northern Israel
which became Samaria.  This happened 65 years after Isaiah gave this
prophecy in 669 B.C.  In this way Ephairm
was “shattered to be a people.” (8)



When we see like this that God’s prophecies are all fulfilled, we
think again that the Bible is awesome and at the same time, we know that the
Almighty God is working in places that we don’t realize.  Therefore. we must believe. Before God be
calm, depend on God, and God will stand us up.



Unfortunately Ahaz didn’t depend upon God, but Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah,
was not like that. He was different from Ahaz and depended on the Lord from his
heart. In 701 B.C. when the Assyrian King, Sennacherib, sent his supreme
commander, his chief officer, and his field commander to Hezzekiah, it was
thought that Jerusalem
was at the point of falling.  Hezekiah,
of course repaired all the broken sections of the wall around the city, made
large numbers of weapons and shields and blocked off the water from the springs
outside of the city, but more than anything he depended upon God. To trust in
God does not mean that if you pray and if you believe that you don’t have
anything.  You need to do your best and
face the troubles. However, you can’t win by just doing your best.
Fundamentally it is necessary to depend upon God.  The conditions at that time are recorded in
Isaiah 36 and 37. As it says being calm before God is the main point. Please
open your Bibles to 37:14.



Hezekiah received a letter for the Assyria saying that Assyria is
going to attack because Judah
has rebelled against Assyria by refusing to
pay the expected tribute. He also says that Judah says that God will save them,
but there is no such country like that and Yahweh is nothing. When he received
the letter he sent a messenger to Isaiah and asked him to pray for them.  Then he too, “went up to the temple of the
LORD” (Isaiah 37:14) and then spread the letter out in front of God and prayed,
“Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the
words Sennacherib as sent to insult the living God…Now, O LORD our God deliver
us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O
LORD, are God.” (37::17-20) To put yourself completely in God is this.  It is to pray.



God heard this prayer of Hezekiah. When the people got up the
morning after the Assyrian army attacked, “there were all the dead bodies!”
(Isaiah 37:36) We see in the Bible that “The angel of the LORD went out and put
to death a hundred and eighty five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. (37:36)
Those who were still alive fled and returned to Nineveh
with Sennacherib, king of Assyria.  Later, “One day, while he was worshiping in
the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down
the sword.” (37:38) At last the country of Assyria
fell.



This is what God does. These 185,000 people died in one night.  This is because “the angel of the LORD went
out and put” (37:36) them to death. In reality they didn’t know how their enemy
was going to be knocked down. God did it. It wasn’t just because the Assyrians
had bad luck, but it was because Hezekiah in the midst of troubles, prayed. It
was because Hezekiah who had put himself completely in God, prayed. Hezekiah
followed Isaiah’s message and returned to God, was calm, and cut himself off
from all that was shaking.  He didn’t
think about how he was in front of God, or how the country was, but he said, “God,
I will depend upon you.” God accepted him because he relied on God.  When we become serious like this before God,
God will answer our dependence upon him. God will certainly answer our
dependence upon him. We who believe this should not be completely in our
problems, but put ourselves completely in the promises of God. “God is our
refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)



 



Applying it
to our lives



1.           
Now what are you afraid of? How
are you going to solve that?



 



 



 



 



 



 



 



2.    
Do you believe that God is almighty and that he is working for you?  What does it mean to you to be calm before
you?





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