Isaiah 8

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 28, 1999


We are still in a section where Isaiah is talking about Ahaz of Judah, the kings to the north, and the Assyrians. The king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Pekah, had allied himself with the king of Syria. Together they were threatening to invade Jerusalem. Last week in chapter 7, God was trying to encourage Ahaz to trust him. The kings to the north would soon be wiped out by the Assyrians. It appears that this chapter may take place about a year after chapter 7.

:1 Take thee a great roll …write … Mahershalalhashbaz

roll – scroll

Maher-shalal-hash-baz – a name which means "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil" or "quick pickings, easy prey." This is the longest personal name in the Bible.

:2 faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest …

These two men would witness that Isaiah had written down the child’s name before the child was conceived or born. We don’t know who this Zechariah is, but we do know about Uriah. After Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 8 is fulfilled …

2 Kings 16:10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that [was] at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

Uriah made the altar according to Ahaz’ drawings, a copy of an altar to the gods of Damascus, the gods of Syria (who had beaten Judah, but were defeated by Assyria). Ahaz had this new altar put in the temple to replace the altar that God had Solomon make. Uriah had known that Isaiah’s prophecy had been true, that Yahweh was indeed God. Yet he followed Ahaz in worshipping the gods of Damascus.


Don’t turn away from the true witnesses.

It may be that you’ve heard about Jesus. You’ve begun to realize that indeed the right thing to do is to follow Jesus. But you don’t do it. Don’t turn your back on God.

:3 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived

prophetesshaybn nabiy'ah – prophetess, female form of "prophet". Though one translation just said "wife" here, Isaiah is actually calling his wife a prophetess.

A prophet/prophetess is not necessarily someone who tells the future, but is more accurately someone who speaks for God. Because God knows the future, sometimes a prophet will speak of future things. Other times a prophet will be speaking warnings from God, other times words of encouragement. (1Cor. 14:3)


If she spoke, would you listen?

Sometimes the people we have the hardest time listening to and receiving from are those closest to us. Some of us guys have a hard time thinking that God could actually be speaking to me through my wife. It can happen. The ladies had an incredible, Holy Spirit filled weekend last week at their retreat. I wouldn’t be surprised if God has been speaking through more than one of them lately. Gals, sometimes God could be speaking through your husband as well. Paul was thankful that the Thessalonians realized that God was speaking through him:

(1 Th 2:13 KJV) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

:4 For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father …

Before the child would reach a year old, the Northern Kingdom of Israel (whose capital is Samaria) and the kingdom of Syria (whose capital was Damascus) would be plundered by Tiglathpileser III of Assyria (732 BC)

:6 this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;

Shiloah – Siloam, a spring in Jerusalem. It seems that Isaiah is referring to the government in Jerusalem, Ahaz, as a gentle spring of water.

"This people" might refer to some of the people who were actually hoping that Rezin and Pekah’s plans of replacing Ahaz with the "son of Tabeal" (Is. 7:6) would actually come to pass. Or, "this people" might refer to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which was following the confederacy of Rezin and Pekah instead of the government of the House of David in Jerusalem.

:7 the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria

the river – a term often used to refer to the mighty Euphrates river.

Whereas Ahaz is compared to a gentle stream, the king of Assyria will be like a wild, out of control, flooding river.

:8 he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck … O Immanuel

The flood will reach all the way up to the "neck". Only the head is above water. This would seem to be a picture of how Sennacherib (another Assyrian king) would sweep through the land (701 BC) and capture everything except the top, Jerusalem (Is. 36).

Immanuel – "God is with us". This was to be the name of a child (Is. 7:14) who would be a sign of God’s deliverance to the people. Even though there would be a flood, because God was with them, it wouldn’t go over their heads. (Is. 43:2)

(Isa 43:2 KJV) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

:9 Associate yourselves … and ye shall be broken in pieces …

The idea is, "Do your best to get ready for battle, but you’re going to be wiped out!"

:10 Take counsel together … it shall not stand

To all of Judah’s enemies, they can plan as much as they want, but none of them would succeed in their plans to wipe out Jerusalem.

:10 … for God is with us.

This was the meaning behind the name "Immanuel".


God is on your side.

(Rom 8:31-32 KJV) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

To demonstrate just whose side God is on, He saw our greatest need and did something about it. He saw that we had separated ourselves from Him with our own sin, and He did the only thing that could be done to remove that separation. He sent His own Son, Jesus, to take on human flesh, and then to die in our place, paying the price of the world’s sins as they were heaped on Him at the cross. God the Father allowed His own Son to do this for our sake. Is there any question just whose side God is on?

If God is on our side, what are we afraid of? The hard thing is that just like in Isaiah’s time, sometimes it doesn’t look as if God is on our side.


Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room. Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, "Things aren't always what they seem." The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die. "Things aren't always what they seem," the older angel replied. "When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it." "Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem."


A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat: "I'm the greatest hitter in the world," he announced. Then, he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. "Strike One!" he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" He tossed the ball into the air. When it came down he swung again and missed. "Strike Two!" he cried. The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. "Strike Three!" "Wow!" he exclaimed. "I'm the greatest pitcher in the world!"

Things aren’t always what they seem. Though we may not understand our circumstances at the present, we may not understand exactly what we’re the greatest at, but we can be sure that God is on our side. He is with us.

:11 that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,

(Isa 8:11 NLT) "Do not think like everyone else does.

The majority of the people in Isaiah’s day were apparently in favor of getting help from the Assyrians. It made total sense to them. Here was this guy who lives across town, just waiting to be hired. They had all this money in their piggy bank. Why not hire the big guy to beat up the local bullies? But God said not to pay attention to what the crowd wanted.


Be careful of the crowd.

Sometimes the crowd may be heading the right way, but sometimes they’re not. We ought to be heading the way God wants us to head, not where people are pushing us to go.

:12 … A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

confederacy – better, "conspiracy". It seems that those who were in favor of making an alliance with Assyria were making accusations against Isaiah of making conspiracies against the government. Isaiah was trying to get the people to trust in the Lord, not an alliance with Assyria.

:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear

sanctifyvdq qadash – to set apart, to regard or treat as sacred or holy. God is to be the sole one whom we regard as worthy of worship, whom we regard of worthy to be honored, obeyed, and bowed down to. There is a very real sense in which we ought to have a healthy fear of God. Jesus said,

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The king, Ahaz, had been looking around for help. And when he found the Assyrians, he found what he thought were the "baddest" dudes in town. To him, they were the ones to be feared, he wanted to be sure he was on the "winning team". But he picked the wrong team. There was Someone far bigger than Assyria.

Peter quotes this verse:

(1 Pet 3:8-16 KJV) Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: {9} Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. {10} For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: {11} Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. {12} For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. {13} And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? {14} But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; {15} But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:

I have to confess I’ve never had a good grasp on what Peter was saying here at the beginning of verse 15. But it’s all connected with the previous verses. God is watching, God will take care of us. We don’t need to be afraid of people who want us to do the wrong things. Make sure that God and God alone is the one you fear, the one you respect, the one you follow.

… and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: {16} Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

We ought to be ready to tell people that the reason we behave the way we do is because we are followers of Jesus and we’re looking to His reward, His hope.


Loving obedience comes from respecting Him.

Whose approval are you looking for? Who do you want to get a "high five" from? There is only one whose approval really counts for eternity. Be sure you have His approval.

When we are looking for His approval, Peter doesn’t say we’ll be careful to not have any fun and live a horrible life. He says we’ll be careful to love each other properly, bless others, speak with good words, do good things.

:14 sanctuary … a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence …

(Quoted in 1Pet. 2:8) For those who make God their fear, He becomes a place of safety for them. For those who reject Him, He becomes something they’ll trip over to their own hurt. He’s either your biggest asset or your worst nightmare.

:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.

The scroll that has had the prophecy written on it (vs.1) is now to be tied up and stored away with Isaiah’s disciples.

:18 Behold, I and the children … are for signs and for wonders

(Quoted in Heb. 2:13) Isaiah’s family would be a kind of living testimony to the nation. You see it in their names:

Isaiah = "Yahweh is salvation".

Shear-jashub = "a remnant shall return" (Isa. 7:3). This son’s name was a reminder that no matter what destruction the nation was facing, that a remnant shall return to the land. God wasn’t going to wipe out the people.

Maher-shalal-hash-baz = "swift to the booty, speedy to the prey". The boy’s name referred to the quick coming Assyrian army who will be arriving shortly to plunder and spoil the kingdoms to the north.


Your family is a testimony too.

It doesn’t have to be in the way that you name your kids. (you don’t have to name your kids something like "Jesus-is-my-Lord")

I pray that people will see how good God’s ways are as they see us seek to raise our children in the Lord. Hopefully they’ll see how great God’s principles of life are as we help our children to grow to know and follow the Lord.

Our marriages are intended by the Lord to be a picture of how much Jesus loves His church:

(Eph 5:25-32 KJV) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; {26} That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, {27} That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. {28} So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. {29} For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: {30} For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

The strange thing is that we as believers are both the Bride of Christ, as well as the Body of Christ. We’re both the bride and the body of the groom.

{31} For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. {32} This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Marriage itself is to be a kind of picture to the world of the oneness of a man and his wife, how that is just like the oneness that Jesus wants with His church.

You may not feel like you can be an evangelist and quote Bible verses to strangers on the street. But when you take your sweetheart or your family out for ice-cream at Baskin Robbins, you’re a testimony of what God can do.

:19 …Seek unto them that have familiar spirits …should not a people seek unto their God?

During these difficult days, the people were looking for answers. They wanted to know what was up ahead for the nation. They looked for advice from people who talked with demonic spirits or who claimed to talk to the dead. They called the psychic hotlines. They read their horoscopes, their tarot cards, went to the fortune tellers.


Get your answers from God.

These are all practices condemned in the Bible. What they really boil down to are people listening to demons for advice. But demons come from the same cut of cloth as the head demon Satan, who is the "father of lies" (Joh 8:44). In other words, you can never trust when it’s the truth and when it’s a lie. One of the enemy’s favorite tricks is to tell someone just enough truth to get them hooked, and then fill the rest with lies. Go to the author of Truth. Go to the Living God for living people.

:20 To the law and to the testimony

Do you want answers from God? Get into His Word. It’s very simple. Read the book.

:20 if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

lightrxv shachar – dawn, the first light after a night of darkness. These "wizards" have no light because they don’t agree with God’s Word. They’ve been in a long dark night, and they never come out of it, there is no dawn.

:21 hardly bestead and hungry …

hardly bestead – hard-pressed, oppressed by anxiety. The ones who have been seeking advice from the wizards will only get angry with God.

:22 they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness

If you look around at this world we live in, it can be pretty depressing.