When I first agreed to do the lessons, I mentioned the topic in haste mostly due to the season we are in and I knew I had some material to work with. Then I went back to six year old notes and realized that, yes, I had some devotional notes, but nothing for a Sunday School lesson and my memory of the text was darker than dim.
So I have been digging into just 3 chapters for the past 6 weeks (including prep time and actual lesson writing) and I am just away by the breadth and depth of God's Word- way too wonderful for me!
And the parallels to our situation today is more than a coincidence.
Instead of the peril of the Assyrian/Syrian/ Ephraim tension causing men to shake as trees- we face the same tension as China rises and Russia wars. And systematic sin spreads like a cancer and blight on the land.
In the passage, Judah and Israel aren't only divided.... their collective heart is distant from their God. And because of it, the land is dark and distressed. The words of the prophet Isaiah, contain more judgement than mercy and the people shut their eyes and ears to it. I don't think Isaiah's approval numbers were very high in those days and eventually, according to ancient sources, was sawn in two for the effort.
I wish I had space and ability to explain how God actively works to press me in these times. The passages just drip in my consciousness and then events of each day squeeze application, issues, perplexities, and wonder as I ponder anew these living words that divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow; judging the thoughts and attitudes of my heart (and my sin always shows my deficit).
I found myself overwhelmed by some thoughts in these chapters about the promise of the Child in both Isaiah 7:14 /9:6 and the context within the passages.
THE ZEAL OF THE LORD
The promise has a flame- "The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this. (Is. 9:7b)" This stands in stark contrast to my 'frozen chosen' stoicism. I sit in a room of walls mesmerized by mental exercises but the Lord is a God of continuous action.... and enough perseverance to play it as the long game... because He is merciful.
How big is this God? I believe in really only 1 miracle.... the God of sun eating black holes and quasars. The God of infinite time. The God Who designed complexity within images of a electron microscope. The God of variety, language, law, love, logic.... and placed in fun ways to be discovered...simple enough to learn...let all of that come out the primordial ooze!
700 year old prophecy and a virgin birth? That is easy.
FAITH AND LIFE
In my study....this passage is the one that stood out the most. I say I believe.... but does my life reflect it?Isaiah 8:11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying:  “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread.  But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.  And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”
(16] Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples.  I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.  Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.  And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?  To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.  They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will speak contemptuously against their king and their God, and turn their faces upward.  And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness. (ESV)
My goodness.... does that passage not preach!
And then I read this summation from Ray Ortlund, Jr.
We know.... that God is more real than the earthly things immediately before us.
We know... He is more than worldly attractions
We know... He is faithful
We know... we should live out what He promised.
And to refuse what we know to be true tears us apart inside.
BUT BEHOLD- A GREAT LIGHT OF HOPE!Isaiah 9:1 But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
(2) The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.