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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 8:11-22

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, December 3, 2007

Fear God

11 The LORD spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said:
12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.

In verse 11, it is clear in both Hebrew and English that God is speaking directly to Isaiah. What is not so obvious in English is that the imperative verbs in verse 12 (“do not, do not, do not”) are not spoken to Isaiah alone, but to everyone listening to Isaiah, too. Careful reading of verse 16 (“seal up the law among my disciples”) shows that this is the case throughout the passage.

God was setting his people apart. There weren’t many, just Isaiah and his listeners, but they were to be separate, set aside for a holy purpose. This is the definition of “sanctification,” which is the seal placed on believers who trust in the Lord’s forgiveness through Jesus. From our perspective, sanctification is the life of thanks we live out as forgiven children of God. Put another way, sanctification is our life of sharing God’s justification (the forgiving and atoning acts of Christ) with the world.

13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
14 and he will be a sanctuary;
but for both houses of Israel he will be
a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”

Verse 14 is quoted by both Peter and Paul as a reference to Christ (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6-8). Jesus is the point at which a person who considers himself spiritual is truly tested. Does he think Jesus is nothing more than a great prophet? Does he think Jesus is simply one incarnation among many of a great and unknowable god? Does he think Jesus never really lived at all? Does he think Jesus really lived and preached, but thinks that Christians have it all wrong? If so, he has stumbled over Jesus. He has tripped and fallen, because you can’t ignore Jesus. Even for the atheist, it all comes down to Jesus.

But does he think and trust that Jesus is God and is the Savior from sin? Then he knows that Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith. Like the capstone that was beginning to appear in Isaiah’s time in the newly invented archway, Jesus holds all things together and directs our lives and our faith.

16 Bind up the testimony
and seal up the law among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the LORD,
who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.

Isaiah summarizes his point simply: I will put my trust in him. The “testimony” or instruction was a formal, even legal document (this is the same term as the “method of legalizing transactions” in Ruth 4:7). Isaiah was telling his followers to preserve this testimony about the stumbling-block Messiah so that Isaiah’s prophecy could be proven to be true.

18 Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.
19 When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. (NIV)

Isaiah’s children were living reminders that the Son of God, the coming Christ, would be both truly God and truly human. They were assurances that he would actually come into the world, not an invisible force in our lives, but an actual man, born of a woman, living, breathing, and fulfilling all of God’s promises about him.

That’s why he goes on to say, why bother trying to talk to the dead? The magicians who try to communicate with dead people are either liars or else they’re in contact with a demon. Either way, don’t trust them, and don’t run to them for answers. Look to God’s word! The word of God is what tells us what we need to know, and it’s the only source of complete truth. It is there in the Bible that we learn who our Savior is and what he has done for us.

That’s what Jesus was saying when he told the story of the rich man and poor Lazarus in Luke 16. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets (God’s word), they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Our faith comes from the word of God itself. When we want to know what God says, we trust in Scripture alone. It is that Scripture that tells us our sins are forgiven; that we are at peace with God.

Note: It was from the King James Version of Isaiah 8:19 that Pastor E. Wendland took the name of his book, “Wizards that Peep,” an outstanding analysis of voodoo, magic and witchcraft of all kinds.


In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.