You may have noticed Wittenberg Door Campus Ministry’s fourfold emphasis - history, integrity, truth, Scripture. Sparking meaningful discussion of the Scripture, the Old and New Testament, is heart and center of what we do. If indeed the Bible is God’s Word and directs us to Jesus, God the Son, we need to take its message very seriously. In Isaiah chapter eight God’s Word and the actual political life of the people of Israel run into one another. They intersect as it becomes clear that Israel is hoping for political or military rescue from Assyria, the superpower of their day. Isaiah draws attention to God as the source of all true rescue.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 8” pp. 88-96.
Luther recalls that Isaiah 8 is logically connected to chapter 7. The prophet uses a physical sign and writes a statement of destruction (LW 16, 88). Verse 2 identifies reliable witnesses. Isaiah’s son, with his prophetic name, will witness the despoiling of the Assyrian enemy (LW 16, 89). The reason is quite clear in verse six. The people have trusted their human alliances rather than God (LW 16, 89). The calm river Shiloah will be replaced with the turbulent waters of the Euphrates. Assyria, rising up against Jerusalem (vv. 7-8) (LW 16, 90). Luther observes that while Assyria will attack Jerusalem, they will not overcome God’s people. In verse 9 we see that the attackers will be shattered (LW 16, 90). The strength of Jerusalem is in God, not in their own power. Luther applies this to the Christian life. “Let us pray first of all against Satan. Christians fight most effectively when they fight least” (LW 16, 90).
In verses 11 and following, God’s people are not to fear (LW 16, 91). The ungodly may wish to frighten us, but they live in fear of the God we trust. This God is the stone of offense (v. 14). Luther notes references to this concept in 1 Peter 2:8, Romans 9:33, and 1 Corinthians 1:23 (LW 16, 91). The Gospel is offensive to those who do not believe. Yet in verse 15 it is clear that the unbeliever is doomed to destruction (LW 16, 92). The Word of God then is sealed away and hidden from sight in verses 16-18. Luther considers that the hardened heart tries to evade God’s Word. Yet the double meaning here is that God’s Word is made available to God’s people (LW 16, 92). We wait, then, for the true God who is revealed to His people (LW 16, 93).
Counter to those who wait for God are those who would go after false teachers, discussed in vv. 19-22. These people try to seek out truth but they are doomed to failure (LW 16, 94). On the contrary, they should seek God’s true Word (v. 20). Yet, Luther sees, those who reject God’s Word will have a troublesome life, just as Jesus and Paul describe in those who would reject Christ (LW 16, 96).
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