I have to take another minute to say one more time that I am aware of just how much of these prophets we are missing in this series. I will probably write a chapter and verse study of at least one of these books at some time in the future should the Lord tarry. For now though my goal is simply to expose you to the idea that these men, who spoke fully 2500 years ago +, have some very important things to say to us today. JE
Isaiah lived and prophesied in the mid-eighth century B.C. His ministry started sometime around 740 B.C. and continued for forty years. He prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Some say he was martyred during the reign of Manasseh, Judah’s most wicked king.
Isaiah has much to say to us about how people of faith should live under the threat of impending judgment; His prophecies came as Judah was facing the beginning of God’s hand of discipline (though much of his prophetic utterance was spoken 150 years before Judah’s final destruction).
In Isaiah Chapter 7 God relates to us a story about King Ahaz and the threats he was receiving from the nations of Damascus and Israel to the north. Both Damascus and Samaria had pledged themselves to see the downfall of Jerusalem. Ahaz was walking in a place of discouragement.
You and I may not be faced with war from two neighboring countries but across our own country right now I am receiving reports of events taking place in and around the body of Christ which are putting us in a place of emotional agreement with King Ahaz. We are tempted daily to discouragement.
To Ahaz and to us Isaiah says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ ” Isaiah 7:9b NIV
I suppose the question that must be answered then is, “How do we practically stand in faith?”
The truth is that while most Christians have at least some theory of God floating around in the grey matter between our ears, many of us live in practice as though God didn’t exist. While Paul the apostle may have said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13 NIV), many of us live as though God cannot be counted on at all.
So as judgment looms this is something Christians have to change for themselves. Here are some practical steps to help.
1. Take responsibility for your faith.
It is not your pastor’s, your wife’s, your husband’s or your parent’s job to build your faith; It is yours. Isaiah did not say “Unless you prop yourself up on my faith you will not stand at all.” He said, “unless you stand in your faith…”
Stop blaming everyone around you for your lack of faith. Own it and do something about it.
2. Stop believing the evil reports.
To walk in faith means to start looking not at things as they are but as God says they should be. This is what it means to “walk by faith and not by sight.”
Things looked bad for Ahaz. Two major kingdoms in his immediate vicinity had banded together for the express purpose of destroying him. But Isaiah told Ahaz that things were not as they seemed.
“Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.”
“Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ” ‘It will not take place, it will not 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.” Isaiah 7: 6-8 NIV
We have to realize that not all the bad news is real. Much of what comes to our ears is just worrisome garbage. Even what is really bad news can be turned to good for those who will believe Romans 8:28 (look it up for homework and memorize if you don’t already know it)
3. Start “speaking to the things that are not as though they were.”
We have to begin speaking God into the situations of our lives and talking about things as God would have them rather than how they seem to be right now.
I know not everything is good, but we have to be careful of our confession. Many Christians are shipwrecking their faith simply by how they speak about the situations they are in. Instead of a “never say die” attitude (which by the way is what resurrection is and we are people of the resurrection) many of us have a “kill me now” attitude. Our words and complaints reflect that.
Understand me I am not talking about being fake with people when your going through a rough time. I am talking about speaking to the rough time your going through with an attitude of faith.
Instead of saying things like: “It’s over.”, “I’m done.” or “This will never work.”, how about saying things like: “God’s got this.”, “God can fix this.”, or “It’s going to be all right. God is with me.”
You say “But that’s not how I feel. I feel like it’s not O.K.. I feel like it’s all falling apart. How can I say ‘God can fix this’?”
That’s the problem! You see we have somehow become confused with the difference between feelings and faith. We have given too much credence to our feelings as though they were the indicators of our faith. They are not! Our feelings are always first swayed by our sight, our carnal sensing of the situations we are in.
” Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God!” Romans 10:17. You see faith comes when we discern our circumstances through what the Bible has said about them.
The Word of God has to become our standard for what we speak into the world around us. We have to become people of the Word again if we are to walk in our faith.
4. Stay you mind on Christ.
Finally we have to stop focusing on all the bad news going on around us and we need to focus on Jesus and His good news. Oh I’ve seen the morning papers. But I’ve also seen the report out of Heaven and it tells me that soon the trumpet of the Great Archangel shall sound and the Lord shall call me forth to the Golden City with a shout! No matter what happens then I can keep my peace because God is my rescuer and He is coming soon!
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Isa. 26:3
Finally brothers and sisters listen here, ” the LORD who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 NLT