“Do not call conspiracy everything these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. 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, 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.”
— Isaiah 8:12-14 NIV
In 734 B.C. a coalition was forming to stand against the rising regional star, Assyria. Aram (Syria) allied with Israel to stand against Assyria, and King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel tried to get King Ahaz of Judah to join them in this alliance against Assyria.
This is the occasion for Isaiah 7-8, in which we have a Messianic word about a virgin being born who will be called Immanuel. Rather than simply extracting out that cool passage, would you read Isaiah 7-8 in order to understand how Yahweh dealt with a bad king, Ahaz, in his fears, his faithlessness, and how he uses Isaiah to speak words of truth to him? Then the Immanuel prophecy will make even more sense to us.
Isaiah's first message from Yahweh was to be "Keep Calm and King On." (Isaiah 7:4) The two kings trying to get him to join them against Assyria are called "smoldering stubs of firewood." Ahaz is told not to fear reprisal if he doesn't join. Yahweh says Judah and Aram are not going to do what they are plotting if Ahaz doesn't agree. Ahaz is assured that if he does not stand by faith in Yahweh, he will not continue as king; he will fall. But be assured also that the Davidic kingdom will indeed continue, and days are coming when a new king will come.
The Gospel of Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14, saying the virgin birth of Jesus to Mary fulfilled what the prophet said, because Immanuel means God with us and like the word Isaiah, points to the salvation of God for His people.
There may have been a near term fulfillment of this word in Isaiah 7:14, because 7:16 says "before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste." Here is a direct prophecy that Aram and Israel will be destroyed, and he goes on to say that Assyria will be the tool of God -- a razor that shaves head and legs -- to overtake these two countries, and even Judah.
Isaiah is strongly urged, with the "strong hand of Yahweh upon me" to not follow the way of the people. What does all this mean? Judah and Ahaz through Isaiah are warned, strongly exhorted by Yahweh not to form alliances with nations around them, to depend on them more than upon God. Affiliate with Yahweh, not Assyria. Nothing can destroy God's chosen Davidic kingdom, his Holy Hill in Zion (Psalm 2:4-9). Let God rule. And be a faithful king under God's authority.
Yahweh, would you teach us the lesson of Ahaz? He didn't learn that he is not truly the ruler. Even we in our self-sovereignty think we rule our own lives, but we really don't. Yahweh, you rule the universe. As we face an election year in the United States, would you remind us who is truly in charge of the nation, the world? Please show people on the right that we ourselves are not in charge, that we cannot save or rule ourselves. That doesn't mean the state must rule us. So remind people on the left that government is not in charge and can't save us. The truth is neither right nor the left is Yahweh's way (Isaiah 30:21). God is in charge of the world, our lives, and He is the true Sovereign Lord.
Worship Minister Cory Legg Responds
Man, that opening scripture that speaks about conspiracy is really such a great reminder! I must confess, I do enjoy conspiracy theories, which is mostly just intriguing and a fun exercise in imagination; however this fun little "hobby" can quickly turn to paranoia the more you dig and the more time you spend researching on the web. Just spend a few minutes on YouTube and next thing you know you're sucked in to an endless stream of other suggested conspiracy videos.
I haven't really dabbled much with this lately, as I know it's mostly a waste of time. I usually end up just being fearful and paranoid because "everyone's out to get us", "nothing is safe to eat, drink, do, etc.", the hammer of the Illuminati, New World Order, Freemasons, etc. is going to fall and martial law is going to be put into effect...and we're all going to be put into death camps. Oh and our world leaders are aliens. That's basically what they all boil down to haha! ;)
Then I remember...God never called us to be fearful hearted, rather to be strong and very courageous, to trust in Him! At the end of the day God still reigns, and always will! Even if some of those "conspiracies" are actually true. ;) (Cue "The X-Files" theme music...")
Greg Taylor, M.Div.
Greg Taylor is the preacher for The Journey. He holds degrees in Print Journalism from Harding University and a Master of Divinity from Harding School of Theology. Greg is working on his Doctor of Ministry at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where The Journey is located. Greg is married to Jill, who is a math teacher at Broken Arrow High School. They have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob, and of course they are very proud of each of what God has done in each one of their lives. Greg is author of several books you can order from your favorite bookseller.