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Sabbath School Lessons on Isaiah
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 4: The Hard Way *
Introduction: Let's review. King Ahaz of Judah finds that his enemies
(Syria and Israel) have shown up, armed and dangerous, at his front
door step. He could rely on God for help, but he does not. Instead,
he bribes the King of Assyria to attack Syria and Israel. What does
Ahaz use for bribe money? The valuables from God's temple and palace
money. Instead of relying on God, he relies on money and other
humans. Is it a smart move? Let's jump into our lesson and find out!
- Read Isaiah 8:1-2. Let's put this in modern terms. Isaiah
gets a big banner and he writes on it "Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz." Why would someone put a message up on a banner?
(They want to get people's attention.)
- Notice that Isaiah calls in a couple of witnesses.
Why would he do that? (It tells us that he wants to
have no dispute that he wrote what he did, when he
did, on this big banner.)
- We don't know what this means, or why he wrote it, but God
must have thought it important, right? Let's continue with
our story. Read Isaiah 8:3. Have any of you seen these
stork signs in front of homes? What does it mean? (That
they have a new baby in the house. It is a birth
- Consider how Isaiah does this. He puts up a birth
announcement - a sign with his son's name on it -
before the son is even conceived. (By the way, the
"prophetess" is his wife.) This is strange behavior!
Why would Isaiah announce the birth of his son before
he is conceived? (This is not just a normal birth
announcement. Something else is going on.)
- To solve this mystery, we need to skip down a few verses.
Read Isaiah 8:18. What are Isaiah's children? (They are
- This child's name bears some further investigation now
that we know he is a "sign." How would you like to have
the name "Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz?" (One of the ladies in
our office just gave birth to a son. The son has a very
long and complex name. I figured the kid would learn to
walk before he could say his name. Writing that name would
be a task for second grade! Writing the name Isaiah gave
to his son seems like junior high school level work to me.
It is the longest personal name in the Bible.)
- "Hash-Baz" seems to have a "ring" to it. Anyone know
what the name means? (It means "Quick to the plunder,
swift to the spoil.")
- If this son is supposed to be a sign, what does his
name mean as a sign? (Pirates are present!)
- Read Isaiah 8:4. How old do have to be before you can say
"Momma" or "Daddy?"
- Put this prophecy together with the boy's name and
tell me what it means? (It means that within a very
short period of time the Pirate Assyrians are going
to defeat Syria and Israel - the enemies of King
- Put yourself in King Ahaz's place. Last week we learned
that he decided to trust the King of Assyria instead of
God. He bribes the King of Assyria to defeat his enemies,
Syria and Israel. The King of Assyria does just that. What
is King Ahaz saying to himself? (I was right to trust the
Assyrians. It was money well spent.)
- Now tell me why Isaiah wrote the boy's name on a
banner and had it witnessed before the child was even
conceived? (God wants absolute proof that He knew
what would happen. This would tend to prove that He
was responsible, and not the King of Assyria.)
- Have you been in the place of King Ahaz before? You
trusted in yourself or in other humans and it worked
out just fine?
- Have you had the experience of being unable to
tell if something happened because of God's
power or the influence of someone else? Was it
God's power or just a coincidence? Was it God's
power or luck?
- The Choice
- Read Isaiah 8:5-8. Have you ever seen a river at flood
stage? How does it compare to the river normally? (Rivers
and streams at flood stage are dangerous.)
- To what does God compare Himself? (A gentle flowing
river. "Shiloah" actually means a conduit. This gives
the sense that the water is controlled.)
- To what does God compare the Assyrians? (A river at
- Why are these comparisons appropriate? (A gentle
river brings life and blessings. A river at
flood stage cannot be controlled and brings
- Notice verse 8. How high does the Assyrian river get?
(Up to the neck.)
- What does this mean? (It will seem to be a close
call. However, Judah will not perish in this
Assyrian attack. In Isaiah 37 we read where God
defeated the Assyrian army under Sennacherib.)
- Read Isaiah 8:9-10. Who is speaking here? The Assyrians or
the people of Judah?
- The answer turns on the end of verse 10 "for God is
with us." With which army was God at that time? (I
think this refers to the Assyrian army. The New
Living Translation attributes this language to the
Assyrians. God was aiding the Assyrians.)
- Step back a minute. God compares the Assyrians to an
uncontrolled river at flood stage. Is that really an
accurate picture? (The Assyrians could not be controlled
by King Ahaz or the pro-Assyrian faction in his country.
However, God says they will come up to your neck and no
more this time. They were indeed controlled by God.)
- Is this still true today - that uncontrollable
circumstances are still under God's control?
- Read Isaiah 8:11-13. This is a famous verse. What do you
understand this advice about conspiracy to mean?
- How does this advice apply today? (I see the problem
to which this advice is addressed all the time. God's
people ally with the enemies of God's people because
they fear for the future. As Isaiah says, "The Lord
Almighty is the one [alone] ... you are to fear." In
every controversy, in every conspiracy, decide who
and what promotes the Kingdom of God and support
that. Don't join with God's enemies simply because
you know things might change in the future. In every
change of circumstances, God will hold the winning
- Read Isaiah 8:14-15. What is a sanctuary? (A safe place.)
- What is a stumbling stone? (Something in your way.
Something that trips you up.)
- What is a sanctuary which turned into a stumbling
stone? (Compare Matthew 21:44 and Romans 9:33. Jesus
is the stumbling stone. To use another analogy, God
is like fire. He can do you a lot of good, but if you
do not respect Him, you will be hurt.)
- How would you put the statements in these verses in
modern terms? (Be wise. Trust and obey God and you
will be sheltered. Distrust and you will fall.)
- Source of Advice
- Read Isaiah 8:19. What motivates people to consult
mediums? What motivates people to consult the dead? (They
know them and think they have inside knowledge.)
- What does God say is unreasonable about this? (God
tells us that the best source of advice is Him. Why
go any place else? However, I think more is being
said here. The dead are contrasted with the living. I
think this suggests that the dead are really dead and
any supposed consultation with the dead is a
consultation with demons.)
- Read Isaiah 8:20. How can we distinguish good advice from
bad advice? (God says that if the advice you get is
contrary to what I have already told you, then ignore it.)
- Read Isaiah 8:21-22. What comes of taking bad advice?
(First, your situation gets worse. Then you get angry
about it and blame God. Then, you turn away from God and
enter "utter darkness.")
- Friend, the choice is yours. You can trust God and go to
Him for advice and sanctuary. Or, you can take the "hard
way," by trusting others, taking unrighteous advice and
ending up badly. Will you make the right choice?
- Next Week: Noble Prince of Peace.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.