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Isaiah: Isaiah and Four Kings--Part 1

Isaiah: Isaiah and Four Kings – part one (sounds like a children’s book and it is a children’s book  - the children of God.)

Last week we began putting together the frame of our jigsaw puzzle for Isaiah. Building the framework so the pieces of Isaiah can be filled in chapter by chapter. Last week we put into place the pieces about Isaiah and his message. He was as a prophet of God was both a statesman of his times and a herald of the most awesome plans of the heart of God. He had both political and spiritual influence. And today we will begin to see that political and spiritual influence as we look at Isaiah and the times he lived during.

Our Keepsake truth: Isaiah 33:6

          “He will be a sure foundation for your times,

                         a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;

                                    the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

Isaiah was definitely a man who understood the times he lived in and knew God as his sure foundation and as a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge. And it isn’t a store for the rich, but a store that the poor come to so that they can become rich in Christ, in God’s salvation, wisdom and knowledge. Do you know your God as that rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge?

 

Isaiah 1:1 Isaiah prophesied under the reign of four kings as seen in verse one.

As we begin to study today, I want us to look at a map, just as maps are ever-changing today because of Tsunami’s or the rise or fall of nations, so were they in these times. The nation of Israel was in a period of their history where after the reign of Solomon, they were divided into two kingdoms, the northern (Israel) and the southern (Judah). Assyria is the dominant world power. You see all the surrounding nations that will have an impact as we study Isaiah’s times. The nations of Israel and Judah lived under the Mosaic covenant, the covenant of the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This covenant made with man by the Holy One of Israel was to show them their sin. They were incapable of keeping the law. It would point them to their need of a Savior. Within the pages of Isaiah is the first glimpses of the covenant of grace instituted by God, administered to us through Jesus – who revealed God’s grace and glory to us. He was sent to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...to give us ashes for beauty, the oil gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of despair, so that we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. The nations of Israel and Judah had lost sight of their mission and destiny as a nation and fallen into gross sin. They had become self-absorbed and self-empowered. Isaiah was not calling Israel to political freedom. In God’s wisdom he knew their captivity for sin was inevitable, yet he called them to repentance, giving them hope of restoration in the future.

Let’s begin to look at two of the kings today – Uzziah and Jotham - under which Isaiah prophesied. With each King we will see his relationship to Isaiah.

 

King Uzziah: II Chronicles 26. II Kings15:1-7 (Azariah was another Hebrew name)

Uzziah was 16 years old when he became king. He reigned for 52years. His name means “the Lord is my strength.” Much of his life reflected this to be true, but he let it go to his head.

His heart: II Chronicles 26:4  - “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done.” Is that your heart’s desire?

His reign: Described in 4 words:

Verse 5: Prosperous  - he sought the Lord during the days of Zechariah, a prophet of God. God gave him success. 

Verse 8 Powerful against his enemies

Verse 9-10: Protected his nation by fortified cities and building up commerce

Verse 16: Proud – As he became powerful, he let it go to his head. Pride was his downfall. Wonder where we get that phrase – “pride cometh before the fall” Here is a life that reflects that truth.

Isaiah became Presumptuous. Rest of verse 16 states it clearly. He was unfaithful to God. He put himself in the role of a priest and entered the temple to make a sacrifice. If you were to read the rest of chapter 27, you would see at the rebuke of 81 courageous priests, he became enraged and immediately was afflicted with leprosy. Uzziah knew the law. This was no innocent blunder and he was quickly held accountable for it by God. God calls for obedience and faithfulness. When we think that success can get us something or somewhere, when our success goes to our head, we often are isolated, just as Uzziah was for the rest of his life. Pride is ugly, just as we see in the picture of Isaiah’s life through the consequences of leprosy. The scriptures say that God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13). We will look at pride later on in more depth. Has anything like Uzziah’s sin happened to you? Have you let pride sneak up on you and taken liberties that are not yours? Or have you done something foolish and have to live out the consequences. Uzziah had a warning from the priest and ignored it. How we need to be alert to the Holy Spirit in our lives, who takes the Word of God  (either stored in our hearts or through the counsel of others) and gives us an alert to the dangers of pride. We need to be on our faces before God, asking him to search our hearts and lead us to repentance. We’ll talk much more about pride in the weeks to come.

Where was Isaiah during Uzziah’s reign? He was a young boy and young man watching this hero like figure and seeing his outcome. By the way, Isaiah was probably a cousin to King Uzziah, not a nephew. It was in the year that King Uzziah died that Isaiah “saw” the Lord (Isaiah 6). It was after King Uzziah’s downfall and death that Isaiah saw the Holy One of Israel and saw his own sin and answered the call of God to give signs of warnings and signs of hope to his people.

 

King Jotham: II Chronicles 27, II Kings 15:23-25

In II Kings 15, we see that Jotham really took over for his father for the last 10 years of his father’s life. Upon his father’s death, Jotham was 25 when he began his reign which lasted for 16 years.

His heart: verse 2 – “Did right in the eyes of the LORD”

He was unlike his father by never becoming presumptuous and entering the temple. He must have seen the consequences and that reality helped shaped his life’s decisions.

His reign:

Verse 3: Rebuilt the temple and the towns

Verse 5: Prevailed against his enemies

Verse 6 – “Grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before his God.”

To walk steadfastly means there has been preparation and establishment of a firm foundation -  sure foundation..

His people: Described in verse 2 – The people continued their corrupt practices. They were still worshipping other gods in the high places of idolatry on the hills of Judah (II Kings15:35). Even though they knew God’s warnings about worshipping pagan gods.  They built these places of worship in the hills, taking on the practices of the ungodly nations around them. They refused to listen to the commands of God, even when given repeated warning by Isaiah.

Where was Isaiah? We will see Isaiah’s message to them in chapters 1-5. Look again at his admonition in Isaiah 1:4.

What about Jotham? Jotham walked in obedience to his God, but did not call his people to obedience Was he enjoying his greatness and thought that he didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. Perhaps he thought if he didn’t call the people to holiness, he would have peace in his kingdom. He even ignored the warnings of Isaiah and chose to be people-pleasing and self-gratifying instead of pleasing God with his life. God calls each of us to live in freedom, a freedom that only faithful obedience to the Lord will bring. He has given us the good news – Jesus saves his people from their sin so that they can reflect the beauty of their Lord in the world around them. Will you continue to join me on this adventure of studying Isaiah and see the freedom that can be ours as we walk in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, as each of us either lay a sure foundation or fortify that sure foundation, as we continue to learn and draw from the rich store of God’s salvation and wisdom and knowledge.