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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 7:3-9

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, November 27, 2007

3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub1, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field.

1 Shear-Jashub means a remnant will return.

Someplace just outside Jerusalem’s walls on the north end of the city was a water source called the Upper Pool (there were lower pools at the foot of the hill on the south end). This Upper Pool on the “road to the Washerman’s Field” is also mentioned in 2 Kings 18:17 and its parallel in Isaiah 36:2 in conjunction with the later Assyrian invasion. At the Washerman’s Field, people would spread out their dirty laundry in the shallow puddles and throw in washing soda or some other soap and then stomp on the clothes before rinsing them to make them clean.

Here was Ahaz the King—fretting over the coming Assyrian army. Would they come right down this road, over the temple mount and through his own city, stopping only long enough to spit him on a spear? And if they had to endure a siege, would pools like this give them enough water to live on—emergency rations of a few cups a day per person?

It was here that the Lord sent Isaiah with his newborn son “Leftovers” (his name means “Returning remnant”). The child was a sign of hope. Would Ahaz understand? Look, O King, look at the fullers working the soap into the clothes, making them clean again. Can’t God do the same with our sins, the sins that have brought this terrible time upon us? But Isaiah had more than a visual illustration in the crook of his arm. He had the Word of the Lord on his lips:

4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.”

How many black-and-white thrillers end with the sympathetic monster confronted by angry townspeople armed with pitchforks and carrying torches? What if their torches were just flashlights with dying batteries? That’s all that the King of Aram was. And as for the King of Israel, God doesn’t even bother to use his name (he’s just “Remaliah’s son”). When people plot against God, they destroy themselves.

7 Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“‘It will not take place,
it will not happen,
8 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.
9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son.
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’” (NIV)

God gives 65 years as the time it will take for the northern kingdom to be destroyed. Would it take that long? Little “Leftovers” would only be about thirteen when the north would fall. But about 60 years or so into the future, Kings Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal of Assyria would come and kick over the last few bricks left in Israel by importing foreign colonists into Ephraim (Ezra 4:1-2, 10). This would be the beginning of the half-breed “Samaritans” that were so much trouble after the return and into the time of Christ (Matthew 10:5; John 4:9).

The last two lines of the prophecy are a challenge to be sure of our faith. The only way to stand is to stand firm in your faith. Everything else is just falling down. Thank God for the faith he’s given us. It’s all we need—and we have it all. Through Jesus, we stand forever.

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.