Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

04/29/18 Sermon - How to Prepare for a Disaster

“How to Prepare for a Disaster”

Isaiah 8:1-22

In chapter 7 we read about the Immanuel sign that God gave Isaiah. Today’s Scripture was the first fulfillment of that sign with the introduction of Isaiah’s son. I have copied the Message, by Eugene Peterson, for you to read. After reading different versions of this passage I think The Message is easier to understand. Also, you may want to follow along as I go through the Scripture and jot down thoughts and ideas that you can look at later to compare with your favorite version of the Bible.

Chapter 8 has two sections, verses 1-10 are the first section which gives the circumstances of Isaiah’s son’s birth and the significance of his name. The second section gives God’s suggestions for how Isaiah should respond to the people’s blindness.

Chapter 8 begins with God telling Isaiah to write down, “This belongs to Maher-shalal-hash-baz

(Spoil-Speeds-Plunder-Hurries),” on large piece of paper so that everyone can read it.  Then he was to make sure that it was authenticated.

Back in Isaiah’s day, instead of using a Notary, there had to be two witnesses, which came from Deuteronomy 19:15. So Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah were called in. When this was all done, Isaiah went home to his wife, who was also a prophetess. She brought forth at least one prophecy, because, nine months later, lo and behold, she brought forth a son, whose name was the prophecy, Maher-shalal-hash-baz which meant (Spoil-Speeds-Plunder-Hurries). Then God gave Isaiah, this time frame, that before the baby would say “Daddy” or “Mamma” Syria and Israel would be demolished by the king of Assyria.

God continued with His prophecy using the streams and rivers as metaphors of how the various countries viewed their relationship with Him.

The waters of Shiloah were in the northern kingdom of Israel and God proclaimed that those in the northern kingdom did not appreciate their gently flowing stream.

Instead, they rejoiced in their wicked leaders, Rezin and Remaliah’s son. So, God was going to give them what they thought they wanted, a mighty river, that of Assyria. The capital of Assyria was Nineveh, and it sat between two large rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The whole land of Israel did not have a mighty river that compared to either the Tigris or Euphrates. It was as if God was saying He had given the Israelites sufficient water supply, or sufficient sustenance, but they were not satisfied, they wanted more. So God was prepared to give them more.

Calvin described these verses like this:

"The small and gentle waters should be more highly valued by us than the large and rapid rivers of all the nations, and we ought not to envy the great power of the ungodly." (Calvin)

God was going to use the Assyrian army, like a large river and flood and overflow their attack on Syria and Israel, and then take over Judah.

The ten tribes in the northern nation of Israel would be conquered by the Assyrians, destroyed completely. As for Judah, the Assyrians would flood them, but only up to their necks. Basically, they would not drown, as their heads would be above water, but the destruction they suffered would be tremendous. 2 Kings 18 describes the extent of the Assyrian invasion against Judah, Hezekiah was able to keep the king of Assyria away from Jerusalem by buying him favors with riches from the temple, verses 14-16

So Hezekiah king of Judah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. Withdraw from me, and I will pay whatever you demand of me.” The king of Assyria exacted from Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.

So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace. At this time Hezekiah king of Judah stripped off the gold with which he had covered the doors and doorposts of the temple of the Lord, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Back in Isaiah we read,     

O Immanuel, spreading across your land.

God was going back to the Immanuel prophecy we read in chapter 7 of Isaiah. God was reminding them that the land the Assyrians were invading, didn’t really belong to Judah or to King Ahaz, in the first place. It belonged to the LORD God, to the coming Messiah, to Immanuel.

Isaiah’s prophecy boils down to the next few verses. Regardless of what Syria, Israel or Judah plan to do, no matter how they prepare, all of their plans would not deter or stand up against the word of God.

God’s will was going to be done, regardless of what they did because ultimately,

   the last word is Immanuel—God-With-Us.

At this point, are you wondering? Who is the us in God-With-Us? God has just declared pretty much everyone who was part of the Jewish nation was about to be wiped out. Who’s left?

In one sense the “us” was the Assyrian army, whether they knew it or not, and whether they had wrong motives and hearts, God was using them. The “us” was also the prophet Isaiah, himself. He was a messenger of God and was with God. The “God with us” also refers to the Immanuel prophecy, Jesus, the Messiah.

At this point in Chapter 8, God grabbed Isaiah by the shoulders and spoke directly to him. God warned Isaiah not to follow the people of Syria, Israel and Judah. God gave Isaiah three ways to prepare himself:

  1. Prepare by fearing God, not Assyria

  2. Prepare by waiting on God

  3. Prepare by seeking God’s light and Word, not the darkness of the occult.

I think we should put these preparations into practice today.

Number 1 - Prepare by fearing God, not Assyria.

Not easily done when we consider the dangerous place they were in. At the time of this prophecy, the combined armies of Syria and Israel had destroyed much of Judah and were on their way to take over the city of Jerusalem. Their plan was to get rid of King Ahaz and replace him with someone else. Even though Isaiah’s prophecy stated that Syria and Israel would not conquer Judah, but the Assyrians would be the ones to attack them and do the majority of damage, it probably wasn’t easy to let go of the real fear of the day. The activity going on around them was real enough,

but God was telling Isaiah if he was going to worry and have fear, the better thing to worry and fear was the God of the Angel Armies. Eugene Peterson writes it this way,

The Holy can be either a Hiding Place

   or a Boulder blocking your way,

The Rock standing in the willful way

   of both houses of Israel,

A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass

   to the citizens of Jerusalem.

Many of them are going to run into that Rock

   and get their bones broken,

Get tangled up in that barbed wire

   and not get free of it.”

What a great image. God can be our place of protection and keep us safe, or when we don’t trust in Him, we will hurt ourselves running into Him, or get tangled up, confused and trapped.

Peter states the same about Jesus in 1 Peter 2:6-8, giving credence to His deity,

1 Peter 2:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

   a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

   will never be put to shame.”

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

   has become the cornerstone,”

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble

   and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message.

Not only should we prepare for disaster by fearing God, we need to prepare by waiting on the LORD.

Now when I say to “wait on the LORD” it does not mean to do so passively with inactivity and patience. It means to “wait on the LORD” like one waits on a table at a restaurant.

It means we are to be totally attentive to the LORD, focused on what He is doing, responding to His desire, so focused on God that we are ready for whatever He wants next, with hope, standing our ground. The best way to wait on the LORD is found in verse 16,

Gather up the testimony,

   preserve the teaching for my followers,

Waiting on the LORD required being connected and soaking in God’s Word.

God in the meantime, will give signs of warning and of hope, which God had done for Isaiah through the naming of his children. Isaiah recognized that he and his sons were living signs of what God was planning.

At the time Isaiah heard this from God, Judah was under attack. I can imagine Isaiah was tempted to put his focus on the Syrian, Israeli and Assyrian armies.

But God was telling him that in the midst of the battle, the best thing to do was to keep his eyes on what the LORD was going to do next.

The third preparation that is necessary to prepare for a disaster, is seeking God’s light and word, not the darkness of the occult. The occult is “knowledge of the hidden.” Fortune tellers have been around since Satan, the Prince of Darkness, defected from the heavenly angels.  As Christians, we might think that we recognize the occult when we see it, and we wouldn’t be found seeking answers from it. However, elements of the occult exist in today’s culture in ways that many would think are ordinary.

Jessilyn Justice, the director of online news for Charisma, wrote an article where she interviewed an ex-witch Beth who told her some of the items today’s society considers ordinary but are really tools for witchcraft and satan, they include: “horoscopes, fortune telling, contacting the dead, speaking to the dead, Ouija boards, chakras, channeling energy, yoga and incantations, among others.”


God gave Isaiah, and us, an answer for when others suggest we seek out such things, Eugene puts it this way in the Message,  

Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.”


   People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end!

As we prepare for disasters, which we know will come, did you notice I said “prepare?”

Let’s face it, when you are in the midst of a disaster, you don’t have the time, energy or where-for-out, to get things ready. That is why this chapter is so significant today, for those of us who are not in a disaster. The things we learn today should be practiced just like fire drills are practiced in our schools. If you practice it correctly, when the disaster occurs  you won’t have to think while you are stressed out, you will already have a path to safety in your head. Unfortunately, this world can be deceptive. Like Judah, we may look at the powerful things that happen in this world and be overwhelmed by them, and fear them, especially when it seems that God is silent, or not so prevalent. We continue to be reminded in the book of Isaiah that God’s weakness is greater than all human strength. Our fear should be in God, He is the Almighty God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

Another worldly trait that humans have, is the need to explain matters even when we do not have the data to do so. We end up creating explanations which usually involves corrupt motives on the part of those needing an explanation. The problem is that we easily become so attached to them that when the truth is revealed, we stick with our explanations rather than the truth. Isaiah tells God’s people to focus on God and rather than create an answer, we need to wait for God’s answer. God was at work in history and is at work today. The best place to see that happening is by reading God’s word. I can tell you, that for me personally, I read Isaiah and am amazed how closely it relates to our world today. The idea of waiting on God, like I did when I was a waitress, makes perfect sense to me. I can remember waiting on familiar couples that would come into the restaurant on a weekly basis. I knew what they liked, and would keep an eye on their table so that I could make sure to do those things.

We should focus on pleasing God, then we can walk in confidence with Him.

Finally, we need to seek the light, not follow the world into darkness. The best way to so, is to keep reading and following God’s Word. Beware, we live in a world, and especially for those of us who live in the superior Western world, which continues to seek more physical and material wealth. Although our society has started to recognize that something is missing, unfortunately they refuse to recognize that something, is God. The idea of God is antiquated for the modern and scientific world today. The world is too educated to believe in miracles, but they have no difficulty in reading their horoscope, seeking the occult, or the mother goddess. No wonder spiritual darkness prevails.

For this generation, like during Isaiah’s time, God has become the stumbling block and barbed wire fence, that we are running into and getting tangled up in. How far do we have to go until we finally get the picture?

As we live in a world where mainline denominations dwindle, Christianity gets a bad rap, and disaster seems prevalent, I close today with a message from Peter in,  

1 Peter 5:8-11 The Message (MSG)

8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

Let’s pray.