A Remnant Will Return

Today, we will look at Isaiah 7.  Near the end of the reign of Jotham, the Lord began to send Ephraim (northern kingdom, Israel) and Syria to fight against Judah (southern kingdom).  The Lord was using Israel and Syria as a tool to cause Judah to repent of their idolatry.  During that time, Ahaz was co-regent with his father, Jotham. 

According to Isaiah 7, Pekah, the king of Ephraim and Rezin, the king of Aram (Syria) came against Jerusalem to make war. They intended to make a gap in the wall and set for themselves a different king in the midst of Judah– the son of Tabeel.  The name Tabeel means to please God; it’s also the name of a Syrian and a Persian.  

The hearts of the people of Judah were fearful of their enemies.  Since Ahaz’ heart was also troubled by what was happening, the Lord told Isaiah to take his son, Shear-Jashub and meet with Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field (also translated as Launderer’s Field).  The Lord instructed Isaiah to tell Ahaz to stay calm and not fear Rezin and Pekah.

Since the name of Isaiah’s son, Shear-Jashub means “a remnant will return,” Isaiah’s son was a visible message to Ahaz and the people of Judah that a remnant will return.  Depending on the actual chronology of events, this message may refer to all of the captives taken by Pekah which were returned to Jericho instead of being kept as slaves while those taken by Rezin were kept and taken to Damascus (2 Chronicles 28). 

During this meeting between Isaiah and Ahaz, Isaiah told Ahaz that Pekah and Rezin’s plan of dividing the land and setting up a new king would not come to pass.  In fact, within 65 years Ephraim, the house of Israel would no longer be a people.  At the same time, Isaiah warned Ahaz if he didn’t stand firm in his faith, he would not stand either.

To assure Ahaz that His word was true, the Lord offered to give Ahaz a sign.  Since Ahaz would not ask for one, the Lord gave him the sign of the virgin birth of “Immanu El” (“God with us”) and told him before the child knew enough to choose right and reject wrong, he would have to eat curdled milk and wild honey and the land Ahaz dreaded would be forsaken by her kings. Isaiah also told Ahaz that the Lord would bring the king of Assyria with his powerful Assyrian armies (bees) and numerous Egyptian armies (flies) down on him—meaning the kingdom of Judah.

Judah’s enemies would not have been a threat to Ahaz if he trusted in the Lord.  He refused to believe that Syria and Ephraim were smoking firebrands—that their power was fizzling out.  Ahaz refused to believe the prophecy of Immanu El — “God is with us.”  Ahaz rejected the Lord and wanted other gods to protect him so he continued his idolatrous ways and caused the nation of Judah to do the same.  The Lord knew what Ahaz’ choice would be.  This is why Isaiah warned him that the king of Assyria (fly) and the king of Egypt (bee) would be brought down on him and those days would be worse than any he had ever known since the time of the divided kingdom.

The sign of the virgin birth was fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus although some believe this was a reference to Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah who was a type of the Messiah.  Either way we look at it, the Lord assured Ahaz that the land of Syria and Ephraim would be forsaken before the promised child was a few years old.  History shows that Hezekiah was no longer a child but was already reigning in Jerusalem by the time of the last deportation of Ephraim to Assyria.  This confirms the prophecy of the virgin birth was not referring to Hezekiah. 

Once Ahaz ignored Isaiah’s prophecy, he became a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian king instead of trusting in the Lord.  Tiglath-Pileser then captured Damascus, took captives to Kir, and killed Rezin (2 Kings 16:9).  

According to 2 Kings 15:30, Hoshea, the son of Elah attacked and assassinated Pekah; Hoshea succeeded Pekah as king in the 20th year of Jotham.  Since Pekah had come against both Jotham and Ahaz, it seems that the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz overlapped.  This practice was not uncommon in the Middle East.

In Hoshea’s ninth year, the king of Assyria took Samaria which was the capital of Ephraim and carried away the house of Israel into Assyria because of their lawlessness (2 Kings 17:1-18). Ahaz’ son, Hezekiah began to reign in Hoshea’s third year so he had reigned six years when the king of Assyria deported the last group of Israelites into Assyria.

Judah did not fight against the Egyptians (bees) until the end of Josiah’s reign when the Egyptians were on their way to aid the Assyrians who were fighting against the Babylonians.  As a result of confronting Pharaoh Necho, Josiah died at Megiddo.  On their way back, the Egyptians took control over Judah. King Jehoahaz, son of Josiah was deported to Egypt where he died (2 Kings 23) and Eliakim, son of Josiah reigned in his place.  Eliakim’s name was changed to Jehoiakim and he reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years.  He eventually became a vassal of the Babylonians.  After a period of rebellion against the Babylonians, Jehoiakim died and his son, Jehoiachin reigned in his place.  Eventually, what belonged to Egypt was taken over by the Babylonians and finally, the Jews were taken into captivity for seventy years in Babylon until a remnant returned in the first year that Cyrus reigned in Persia.

What happened in the past is a pattern for the future.

Much has happened to the land of Israel throughout history.  Many empires and peoples have claimed it for their own.  Samaria is located in what is now called the West Bank.  Israel refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria.  The West Bank was once controlled by Jordan but it is now claimed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.  Damascus is still in Syria and is the home of several terrorist organizations who desire to destroy Israel. 

It’s no secret these groups have evil intentions for Israel.  Today, Israel’s enemies say they intend to divide the land of Israel and set up their own ruler just like Pekah and Rezin intended to do.  Perhaps they want a Syrian or Persian to be their leader.  Who knows for sure?  Will all of their plans for Israel come to pass?  Time will tell.

Many throughout the world think dividing the land will bring peace to the land.  Surely this plan for peace won’t bring lasting peace.  As the prophecies of the latter days unfold, the Jews must not be afraid but must stand firm in their faith in the Lord.  Believers around the world must fearlessly stand with them as well.

Ephraim also seems to parallel America today.  America was once united with the country of Israel against its enemies; however, the current administration has taken the side of Israel’s enemies.  Israel is being forced to stand alone.  Israelis needs to know who their Savior is.  Believers around the world should also stand with Israel.  Who can say what will happen to America in the future?  Will America soon cease to be a people like Ephraim did?  Again, only time will tell.

No matter what happens, remember, Immanu El!

Even more curious is Assyria.  Previously, once Ephraim and Syria were no longer a threat to Judah, Assyria and Egypt became a problem for Judah.  Assyria is not synonymous with Syria as many believe.  Even though the Assyrian empire faded away, ethnic Assyrians still exist throughout the world.  It may surprise you to know they are predominantly Christians and not Muslim. 

During the last 1260 days, the Lord will hide and nourish the 144,000 in the wilderness.  It’s possible that they may eat curdled milk and wild honey.  This will be during the last half of the final shavuah—the 70th week of Daniel.

Who is the future antichrist known as?  One of his many names is “the Assyrian.”  Could it be that he will be ethnically Assyrian?  Since he will not follow the god of his fathers, he will not be a true Christian.  He could be Muslim.  When he rises to power, everyone will be expected to submit to him and worship him in Jerusalem.  Our pattern suggests that Egypt will be his ally.  Once again, as the sixth millennium ends, a battle will be fought in the Valley of Jezreel at Har Megiddo –which is also known as Armageddon.  This time, Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords will be leading the battle and not King Josiah.  He will not disguise Himself or die like King Josiah did.  Everyone will know who He is and He will be victorious.

In recent history, a remnant returned to Israel after the Holocaust of World War II.  In the future, shear-jashub — “a remnant will return” from the four corners of the earth when Christ returns to begin His millennial reign in Jerusalem.  Immanu El!


Blind Eyes and Deaf Ears

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah saw the Lord seated on His throne.  In this vision, Isaiah had been ushered into the most holy place of the temple; it was not the earthly one but the heavenly one.  Isaiah realized that since he was in the Lord’s presence, he was at risk for being struck dead like Nadab and Abihu had been; after all, the Lord had once told Moses that a human being couldn’t look at His face and remain alive.[i]  Isaiah knew he was a sinful man and that he dwelled among others who were sinful.  Fortunately for Isaiah, the Lord showed mercy to Isaiah; a seraph flew to him with a live coal from the altar of incense and touched Isaiah’s mouth with it in order to take away his iniquity.

During this vision, Isaiah heard the Lord say he desired to “send someone” but initially we don’t know to whom, to where, or for what.  Without an answer to this mystery, Isaiah volunteered.  In Isaiah 6:9-10, Isaiah was instructed to, “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” NIV

We don’t know how long it was before Isaiah responded.  He could’ve stood there thinking about what the Lord had said for only a moment for a few minutes.  Isaiah must have been concerned by what he had heard and pondered the message he was supposed to deliver to his people because then Isaiah asked, “Lord, how long?”

In Isaiah 6:11-13, the Lord answered, “Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged,12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. 13 And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” NIV

The book of Isaiah is evidence that Isaiah did as the Lord commanded.  His message was also passed on to future generations. 

Many may be quick to assume the description of the land being desolate lasted only until the end of the Babylonian captivity; however, whenever the Jews have been outside the land, it has been desolated by its inhabitants.  The period of blindness and deafness which was mentioned by Isaiah extended even into Jesus’ day.  We know this is the case because Jesus said this was the reason He spoke in parables; the people could see and listen to Jesus but they could not spiritually hear, see, understand, repent, and be healed.  Jesus told His disciples, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;  17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”  Obviously, some would be able to see and hear where others would not be blessed to do so.

Over the millenniums, people have continued to be spiritually deaf and blind to the Lord.  The mysteries of the kingdom of God have not been given to everyone but only to the ones that have been chosen.  The gospel is in plain sight but spiritually, peoples’ eyes and ears are closed to truth. Their ears are closed to the truth that the wages of sin is death and their eyes are blind to the fact that Jesus was the Passover Lamb who died and rose from the dead to take away sin and guilt so that those who have faith in Jesus can have eternal life.

Only those who have eyes and ears to spiritually see and hear are supposed to spiritually see and hear. Many who we would expect to have such ability don’t and others we would never expect to have this ability do.  No matter who they are, they are also expected to choose life.  Unfortunately, most people are like many of the religious leaders and people of Jesus’ day who rejected the Lord when He was made flesh and lived among them.  They are choosing death.

Since the first part of this prophecy is still in effect, it seems the rest of the prophecy is for the future as well.  Although the land is productive now, the land will eventually become desolate once again.  Daniel 9:27 indicates “the prince of the people who will come” will make the land desolate until the very end.  Right now, only a small number of Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah but as the time of desolation approaches and the Antichrist rises to power, a remnant of the Jews will begin to spiritually see and hear.  At some point, the Lord will hide, protect, and nourish them for 1260 days and the land will be desolated.  The Lord will deal with Israel’s enemies when all hope is lost and He will bring His people from the four corners of the earth back to Israel in His time and not before. 

For now, I am convinced that man can not accomplish the gathering of the Lord’s people; it is an act of the Lord.  Many are making aliyah or ascent to Israel and encouraging others to do so.  It’s seen as a sign that the Lord is at work among His people.  Eventually, the holy seed (Jews) won’t be safe anywhere in the world and they will be targets for their enemies until the Lord hides them.  As it is, I pray daily for their protection where ever they are throughout the world.  I suppose at some point, it’s not going to be safe for Jews or Christians to live anywhere; the way technology is today, there’s nothing we can do about it except rely on the Lord and His plan for our lives.  Even now I try to prepare my children for what may come in the future by reminding them of Matthew 10:28:  “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Anyway, for believers, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord and this should give us peace in the midst of what is coming in the future.[ii]

[i] Exodus 33:20.

[ii] 2 Corinthians 5:8.