I wonder what Isaiah was thinking when God told him, “Make a large signboard and clearly write this name on it: Maher-shalal-hash-baz.” First of all, that’s not a common name, it’s really just a series of words, and it “roughly” means, “Swift to plunder and quick to carry away,” according to the footnote. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want such a long name. Can you imagine having to write that every time you sign a check! But God had spoken, and Isaiah obediently named his second son accordingly.
We’ve already met Isaiah’s first son, Shear-jashub, which means “a remnant will return.” God was using the names of Isaiah’s offspring as another way to bring the message to the people. First will be the judgment and wrath, but it will be followed by rebirth and hope. It’s interesting to see how God is even using the little details to speak to the people.
Can you think of something “small” in your life that really spoke volumes in terms of God’s provision for you? I suppose for me, it’s a stirring that my husband David had in his heart to crunch our retirement numbers one night. He discovered we still had 6-8 more years of work ahead to “afford” to retire! Next, out of nowhere, came the thought of moving to Mexico where the cost of living would not preclude us from retiring sooner. David had been feeling God pull him in a different direction for a while but didn’t know what that meant. God was about to bless our new journey. Now, five years later, we are happily living in Mexico! God used that little detail or moment in time to change the course of our lives!
But for Isaiah, the message was not so exciting. The adventure did not sound very appealing at all. Yet, out of this assignment, Isaiah was going to have another baby, and that was a blessing! The birth of his second son, as well as the birth of Immanuel (from our last reading) would be significant in that before either of them was very old, Assyria would invade and destroy both Damascus and Samaria. Not only was that a prophecy, it was a prediction we can place on the timeline of history.
Despite God’s messages, the people of Judah were still believing their salvation would come from a source other than God himself. God’s responded. “the Lord will overwhelm them with a mighty flood from the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria and all his glory. This flood will overflow all its channels and sweep into Judah until it is chin deep.” It sounds like both Israel and Judah would be affected by this “flood” which probably refers to the mighty Assyrian army about to attack. The Lord was going to allow this to happen.
Interesting to note that the NLT version I have linked to above doesn’t give credit to the closing warning in verses 9 and 10. In my older NLT version, it says that the “Assyrians will cry” out those words. In that case, it would seem almost a taunt or a challenge of the impending doom. Either way, the people of Judah were being called to prepare for war, but also to be prepared to die. That had to be a wake-up call, didn’t it? The people would not be caught unaware, if they had been paying attention, and the outcome prophesied was inevitable. Isaiah would cling to the assurance that a remnant would remain, as promised through the naming of his first son.
Take some time today to look back on your life and how you got to where you are today. I’m sure you’ll see some wrong turns, some ups and downs, and some surprise dead ends, etc. Now imagine God being beside you at each turn along the way. Can you see a place where he intervened and redirected? Thank him for bringing you to this moment.
Let’s pray … Lord, I do thank you for all the provisions you have given me. I can see your hand at so many junctures whether I was asking for your help or not. Thank you for never giving up on me. I don’t want to live another moment not plugged in to you and the Spirit that guides me. Forgive me for those times when I’ve questioned you or ignored the signs you’ve given me. May I be more aware of your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.