You can't ignore this truth...
|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." (Isaiah8:13-15)
Chapters 7 and 8 of Isaiah are all about the "hyenas" (aka Pekah and Rezin, aka Samaria and Aram), the panic-fear that King Ahaz has about them and the folly of trusting the Assyrians (the "bear"). Isaiah makes it clear - the hyenas will be sorted out by the bear, and the bear, in turn, will ravage the land, but God will rescue them and leave them as remnant.
Chapter 8 ends with Isaiah saying: "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". His sons' names mean "A remnant will return" and "Quick to plunder / Emmanuel - God with us". His two sons offer Ahaz a message: God will rescue, the bear will destroy but God is with you.
It is fitting that we round off the "Bear and Hyena" section with our verses for today, because they remind us that hyenas and bears will come and go, but God is the rock solid reality that we ignore at our peril.
Ahaz is scared of the hyenas, he's put his faith in the bear.
But he has ignored the truly powerful One.
Isaiah urges him:
"The Lord Almighty is the One who is holy"
"He is the One you should fear and dread"
Something amazing happens when we right-size God and down-size our enemies... When we right-size the fearful and dreadful God, He becomes our sanctuary.
But when we overlook God we will stumble and fall.
We recognize the idea of "a stone that causes men to stumble" from the New Testament. This prophecy is fulfilled by Jesus.
Isaiah's message is straight-forward and simple. We can spend lots of time and energy on the hyenas and bears or we can downsize them while we rightsize God. If we don't rightsize God and don't downsize bears and hyenas, we're going to stumble and fall. God's holiness, love and faithfulness is a truth embodied in Jesus is a truth too great to ignore.