23 July 2020 - Pay Attention To God

23rd July 2020

Isaiah 8:1-18 - PAY ATTENTION TO GOD

In Isaiah 8, we learn about the Lord’s judgment on sin. The nation of Israeli had split into two; the northern part and the southern part (Judah). The people had turned to idol worship and witchcraft. God was not pleased with them. He instructed Isaiah to write the words “Maher Shalal Hash Baz” (this means quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil) on a large scroll and He named two witnesses, Uriah and Zechariah, as reliable witnesses. Can you imagine God choosing you by name as a reliable witness? Uriah and Zechariah must have been impressive men of faith. Unfortunately, the people of Israel were much less impressive. God warned the Israelites that a terrible judgment was about to come upon them, because of their sin. God was angry with their disunity, rebellion and disobedience. They had been given many opportunities to repent of their sin but they had unfortunately chosen to ignore God. God wanted the people to pay attention to his message. He even instructed Isaiah to name his son Maher Shalal Hash Baz as a sign to the people and to indicate the timescale of this judgment (v4).

God told Isaiah that because the people had rejected Him and His commands, they would be completely defeated and destroyed by the king of Assyria and his army. (v6-8) God was about to send His judgment upon them and it was going to be terrible. The people could try to fight, plot and make as many preparations as they wanted to, but nothing they did would be able to stand against God’s will and what He had determined to happen (v9-10).

God warned Isaiah that fear, dread, paranoia and “conspiracy theories” would come across the people, and they would try to make pacts or agreements with the enemy, but this is not what the people should do (v12). Instead, they should fear the Lord Almighty from whom this judgment was coming. “He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread” (v13).

When you have done wrong, there is nothing you can do to avoid God’s judgment. You can try to justify your wrongdoing, hide your bad attitudes, or cover up your sinfulness. You may try to devise all sorts of likely explanations and excuses for what you have done. However, when God has determined to discipline you, there is nothing you can do except to take it. When you fear God and realise that He is Almighty, He will be your sanctuary and protect you from your enemies. However, if you choose to be disobedient and disregard His commands, you will fall and break, you will become trapped and captured by the enemy (v14-15). This Scripture gives us a vivid warning of the price we pay for sin. It is quite simply, destruction.

The best way to prepare ourselves for any adversity is to be obedient to God. We should wait on Him by praying and being attentive to what he is teaching us and be responsive to Him. We need to focus on God and put our trust in Him. Trying to “outwit” His will with idols, backchat, plotting and alliances with people, is not going to help us. We cannot expect to get away with rebellion and willful disobedience.

Personal Reflection

Have you had the experience of doing something that was wrong, thinking that God would not mind or notice? Have you told yourself stories to justify your actions, or to minimise the impact of your sin? Can you remember if you experienced God’s rebuke after this event? Try to think about incidents in the past when you did something that was wrong. What were your expectations at the time? Did you experience God’s discipline afterwards? Did He send someone to warn you? What did you learn from the experience? It is important to examine our thoughts, attitudes, motivations and actions. Are they aligned with God’s commands? Do we pay attention to His word and His rebuke? Do we take the opportunity He has given us to repent at the cross of Jesus Christ? Or are we so stubborn and rebellious, that we require God to send a terrible judgment on us to gain our attention? CS Lewis called this God’s “megaphone of pain to rouse a deaf world”. Let us make sure that we listen to God when He speaks to us in our quiet times, and not wait until he has to shout at us to make us listen.

Suggested Prayer

Lord God, we love you and we acknowledge that you are the Lord God Almighty. Forgive us for when we have been disobedient to you. We are truly sorry, God, for our sin. Help us to develop a reverence for you so that we will be obedient you. Help us to seek you and to wait upon you, so that we will be able to know and understand your will. Thank you for loving us so much that you sent Jesus to save us. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Amen