READ: Isaiah 9:8-11:16
BACKGROUND: This is a powerful prophecy against the nation of Israel for falling away from God, ignoring him, and living wickedly. God promises that he is going to bring about the destruction of the nation, and that he is going to send foreign, pagan kings to destroy them.
9:10 – Stone and cedars (replacing the bricks and fig trees) are expensive and powerful materials. Israel is trusting in their wealth and their stuff rather than their God.
12 – “Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” This is an idea found back in Isaiah 5:25 that is repeated in 9:17, 9:21, & 10:4. God’s hand is seen as the instrument of his wrath. His hand upraised means that his wrath is coming.
17 – Here, as so often in the Bible, we see God’s heart for the poor, the orphans, & the widows.
10:5 – God is going to send the King of Assyria to conquer Israel and capture it’s people. The King of Assyria is being used as an instrument of God.
13 – The King of Assyria is prideful. He thinks it’s his greatness that brought about the conquest rather than God’s greatness and purposes. So, he too will be destroyed.
16 – In 701 BC 185,000 of Sennacherib’s soldiers were wiped out by a plague (See 2 Samuel 24:15-16, 1 Chronicles 21:22-27)
20 – The phrase “In that day…” is here and again in verse 27. This phrase is found all throughout the Prophetic writings of the Bible. That day refers to the day of the Lord when evil will be fully conquered and all things set right.
33 – When God talks about trees & forests he’s talking about soldiers & armies here.
11:1 – This imagery of a shoot from a stump is hope filled. Though everything is destroyed and cut off, there will yet be new life.
2 – Like David, the Messiah will be guided and directed by the Spirit.
4 – Righteousness & justice are exactly what the leaders of that day lacked.
6-9 – What a picture!
10 – The banner was the symbol of belonging and home. You found your identity under the banner of your king. In that day we will find our identity and belonging and hope and home under the banner of Jesus Christ.
THINK: In the early 1990’s Nike unleashed maybe the greatest marketing campaign in the history of sneakers. It was a series of videos directed by Spike Lee, starring Lee as a nerdy basketball wannabe named Mars Blackmon who followed around Michael Jordan trying to learn how he could be like Mike. And no matter what transpired or what Michael told him, Mars always came to the conclusion, “It’s gotta be the shoes!” He was convinced that what made Michael so great as basketball was his awesome Air Jordan Nikes. This, of course, was exactly the subliminal message that Nike was trying to deliver to the masses, but it was laughably ridiculous. The shoes didn’t hurt – and they certainly made him look cool out on the court – but Michael could have played barefoot and been transcendent. I’m seriously sad for all of you who are too young to have seen him play. Watching Michael Jordan play basketball was the aesthetic equivalent of listening to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony or seeing Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. And anyone who saw him play understood that the man made the shoes awesome, not the other way around.
Sometimes in life it’s really easy to get really full of ourselves and think that we have accomplished great things all on our own. It’s easy to cut God out of the equation, to forget about him entirely, and to swell up with pride at the things we’ve accomplished as though our success is entirely of our own making. The truth, though, is that we are the shoes! Everything that we do and anything worthwhile that we accomplish is by God’s grace and through his equipping power.
God used Sennacherib to destroy wicked Israel, but then Sennacherib got prideful and thought it was his greatness and might that had delivered the victory. And God’s response in Isaiah 10:15 is both hilarious and convicting. “Does the ax raise itself above the one who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? It’s as if a rod we’re to wield him who lifts it or a club brandish him who isn’t made of wood.”
We are instruments in the hands of a sovereign and mighty God, and it’s critical that we remember this and keep our pride in check. We cannot forget that God is in control and we are instruments in his hands. And it is a great privilege to be used by him for his Kingdom building purposes. Remembering this allows us to be rightly thankful for the things he allows us to accomplish and also sets us free from the pressure of believing that ultimately things are in our control and up to us. Be the shoes!
ASK: Do I ever stop to thank God for all the blessings he has given me, and the things he’s done in my life? How can I remind myself regularly that I’m just the shoes?