Over 2,700 years ago Isaiah received an extremely strong prophetic word, “For this is what YHVH said to me according to the great power of His hand” (Isaiah 8:11). This multi-faceted message concerned the agony of defeat and the joy of victory. King Ahaz would refuse to trust in the God of Israel’s prophetic counsel (the ‘quietly moving waters of Shiloah’) and instead turned for military support to the Assyrian superpower (‘the huge and mighty waters of the [Euphrates] River’ (Isaiah 8:6-7). The eventual result would be the invasion of the land of Israel and the Exile of the Jewish people.
Those children of Jacob who trusted in YHVH would find Him to be a holy sanctuary. But Israel’s majority would encounter a different aspect of God’s character – a stone of stumbling, a rock of offense, a trap and a snare (8:14).
Part of God’s response to Israel’s cold shoulder was a ‘divine withholding.’ Isaiah is told to tie up his prophetic scrolls and to seal his oracles – because YHVH will now “hide His face from the House of Jacob” (8:16). Nevertheless, Israel is exhorted to walk in the light of God’s teachings which have already been revealed – apart from that there is no spiritual dawn, no future hope (8:20).
Who said that it’s easy being a prophet? YHVH gave Isaiah a hard prophetic message and it fell mostly upon hard hearts. Nevertheless there was hope.
Two sons, two destinies
Part of Isaiah’s calling involved prophetic actions. He was commanded by the God of Israel to give prophetic names to his two children – names which spoke of different aspects of Israel’s destiny. With laser-like precision these names focused on two future streams of the Jewish people’s history. Isaiah proclaimed, “Here am I and the children whom YHVH has given me – for signs and wonders in Israel from YHVH of armies who resides on Mount Zion” (8:18).
Isaiah’s second son was named Maher shalal – Hash baz (‘quickly the war spoil – hasten the war plunder’). His name was a prophetic sign (8:3-4) that Assyria would soon conquer Aram/Syria and exile the Ten Tribes of Israel (in line with Isaiah’s previous prophecy in 7:4-8). Isaiah’s second son was a prophetic sign – shocking judgment would follow Israel’s spiritual disobedience.
Isaiah’s first son was named She’ar Yashuv (‘a remnant will return’). The prophet speaks under the anointing of YHVH, using the phrase four times (10:20-22). His name was a prophetic sign that, even though heavy judgment was on its way, God would spare a believing Jewish remnant who would be totally dedicated to YHVH, the Holy One of Israel (8:20). “A remnant will return (She’ar yashuv), the remnant of Jacob (She’ar Ya’akov) to the Mighty God!” (8:21).
- The physical presence of these two sons underscores God’s two streams of holy activity with His Jewish people – there will be judgment, but through it YHVH will purify a shining remnant.
Firstborn gets the double
Moses was sent to Pharaoh in Egypt with a heavy prophetic declaration. “Thus says YHVH, Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23). But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and his rebellious response to God’s word kicked off Passover events.
Being God’s firstborn nation is part of the Jewish people’s irrevocable calling and gifts (see Romans 11:28-29). It includes receiving more stringent discipline (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17; Isaiah 40:2), as well as a double portion of reward and blessing from the hand of YHVH (Isaiah 61:7). The Jewish people have been granted more light and revelation. YHVH “has exalted the horn of His people … the sons of Israel, a people near to Him” (Psalm 148:14). The benefits include the gift of the Promised Land and the gift of the Holy Scriptures. Salvation itself is from the Jews, as Yeshua explained to the woman who lived in what is today called Jenin (John 4:22).
- The Jewish people are a living billboard to the nations. Study our history and you will understand God’s ways, His heart and His strategies.
And even as we remember God’s promise to refine His Jewish people though shakings and judgments, let’s remember that “in all their afflictions He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). Ultimately, YHVH declares, “I will not turn away from doing them good … Yes, I will rejoice of them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul!” (Jeremiah 32:40-41). God is aware of all the sins and disobediences that many in Israel have done. Nevertheless He will never cast away all the seed of Israel, but will be their passionate God and they shall be His passionate people (see Jeremiah 31:33, 37).
Balancing on the see-saw of life
As the Middle East convulses with birth pangs, and as anti-Semitism raises its cobra head above the Western world, let us guard our hearts from growing numb. “Because of the increase of lawlessness, most people’s love will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). As jihadi forces stretch out their gnarled fingers to press the button on rockets, missiles and fire-bombs aimed at Israel, let us press in to deeper burning intercession: “For Zion’s sake I will not hold my peace and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a burning torch” (Isaiah 62:1).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for an increased revelation to come to believers in Yeshua about God’s Biblically based heart and strategies for the Jewish people
- Pray for Messiah Yeshua to be revealed to many hungry Jewish hearts
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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