Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz.
I. The whole subject of Godhead is one of awe, and if of awe, then "dread." The more you know of God, the more you feel the unfathomableness of the mystery of Godhead. And all mystery is awe. It is a rule of our being, that we must tremble when we stand on the margin of the unknown. Therefore they who know most of God will most "fear," not His anger, but simply His amazing greatness.
II. The sense of mercy and benefits heaped upon us has an overwhelming influence upon the mind. Do not you know what it is to tremble at a danger when you have escaped it, much more than you did when you encountered it? That is exactly the "fear" and the "dread" of a pardoned sinner. It is the contemplation of a thunder-cloud which has rolled over your head.
III. Reverence is the great lesson which our age has to learn. Be suspicious of the love which is without awe. Remember that our best acquaintance with God only shows us more the immensity of the fields of thought which no mind can traverse.
IV. "He shall be for a sanctuary." Do you recoil at the idea of dreading God? That which makes the dread makes the hiding-place. To those who fear, He shall be for a sanctuary. (1) To a Jewish mind, the first idea of the sanctuary would be refuge. (2) The sanctuary of safety becomes the home of peace. "Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations." (3) God is the fountain of your holiness. The Shechinah shines within the veil; but as you become familiar with the precincts of that holy place, you catch some of its rays, and reflect its glory.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 9th series; p. 245.
References: Isaiah 8:14.—W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 131. 8:16-9:7.—J. J. S. Perowne, Sermons, p. 365.
Isaiah 8:17I. "I will wait upon the Lord." At all times we are to be like servants who are standing in the presence of their master, and who are ready, the very moment He shall give His orders, to go to any place, to do any work. If, when you should be waiting for what God may call you to do, you are so taken up with your own worldly concerns that you cannot hear, what then? Will that be waiting upon the Lord? And see what is the promise attached to this. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength "—that is, whatever He calls them to do, they shall have strength, time after time, to carry it on; the more work He gives them, the more power will He give them to do it with.
II. "That hideth His face from the house of Jacob." The house of Jacob means the Church militant; the house of Israel, the Church in heaven. When it seems as if we could not stand against temptation, when there is some besetting sin which overthrows us again and again, then it seems as if God were hiding His face from us. And David might well say, "Thou didst hide Thy face from me, and I was troubled." For then we are troubled indeed: when we have to cry out, "Save me, O God; for the waters are come in, even unto my soul." And what are we to do then? The text tells us—we are to wait.
III. Of all difficult things, waiting is the most difficult. If we may only do something, if we may only exert ourselves, then it is so much easier, then we seem so much more content. Only be willing to wait; only fix your eyes on that cross where Christ hung, as the poor Israelite bitten by the fiery serpent looked with his whole might on the serpent of brass, and then the time shall come when you will see Him indeed.
J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College Chapel, vol. i., p. 4.
Isaiah 8:18I. Faithfulness. Always when we try to do good to others we are thrown back upon ourselves; we are reminded that high work must have fit instruments, and that our influence is likely to be as our character is. This is peculiarly the case as between us and our children. They know us much better than others; are much nearer to us, see us more clearly. They will know inevitably whether we mean all we say, desire all we pray for, and are all we profess. We must love Christ dearly ourselves if we are to show His loveliness to them. This sincerity on our part ought to take as one of its forms a firm, steady family rule, an exercise of wise parental authority. Be ruler in your own house, not by checks and shocks, by pull and strain, by collision of wills and trial of strengths; but gently, as the moon draws the tides up the shores, or as the sun lifts the ocean exhalations into the rain-clouds of the sky.
II. Tenderness. Here is ground where one almost fears to tread. Think of the great interests at stake; of the principles now being formed; of the habits that will result from them; of the characters you are moulding; of the gladness or the grief, the light or the dark, that will be in future homes the result of what you are doing now in yours; and of the issues to be revealed in the eternal world: and walk tenderly, as you would among flowers in early spring.
III. Such feelings will lead to prayer. In prayer for our children we are putting ourselves in the line of God's laws. We work as He works. Our nurture of our children is soon over. His nurture never ends. They are children in His hands all their days, and we do well to cast them on their Father's care, on the tenderness of His nurture and wisdom of His admonition.
IV. Hopefulness. We ought to cherish a feeling of cheerful confidence in God as to the result of our endeavours for our children's good. Surety if there is a field in all the world where we may look with confidence to the springing of the seed sown in faith, that field is the Christian family. If promises are fulfilled anywhere, they will be fulfilled there.
A. Raleigh, From Dawn to the Perfect Day, p. 34.
References: Isaiah 8:18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xx., No. 1194. Isaiah 8:19.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 318. Isaiah 8:19, Isaiah 8:20.—W. J. Friel. Penny Pulpit, No. 468. Isaiah 8:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 172, Isaiah 9:1-7.—F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 254. Isaiah 9:1-8.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 333.
And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.
And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz.
For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.
The LORD spake also unto me again, saying,
Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son;
Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks:
And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.
Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear, all ye of far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces.
Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.
For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying,
Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
And they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry: and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.
And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness.