1 When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.
2 Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field.
4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.
To make sense out these verses, a short history lesson is likely in order, especially for me as it always helps.
Let’s start with the first king of Israel, it was Saul. He was followed by David, the shepherd who felled Goliath; later he wrote a great many of the book of Psalms. David’s son Solomon followed him; he wrote Ecclesiastes and most of Proverbs. The king that followed Solomon was his son Rehoboam.
Pretty straightforward so far, but now it gets a bit tricky as one of Solomon’s servants, Jeroboam, rebelled against Rehoboam as prophesized by God where he was told he would have ten of the twelve tribes of Israel
33 because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, … . 34 Nevertheless, I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of David my servant whom I chose, who kept my commandments and my statutes. 35 But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand and will give it to you, ten tribes. 1 Kings 11 ESV
When this came to be, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (home to Jerusalem) remained loyal to Rehoboam while Jeroboam was crowned as king of the northern tribes. A quick note, Jeroboam was given a number of promises from God if he would listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did (1 Kings 11:38). Jeroboam did not, instead he instituted calf worship so there would be no need for pilgrimages to Jerusalem further dividing the kingdoms.
Fast forward 240 years and the kingdoms are still divided with Ahaz king of Judah and Pekah king of Israel, also known as the kingdom of Ephraim as it was the largest and most influential tribe of the ten. One last player to identify, King Rezin of Aram from verse one. Rezin was the king of Aram or today Syria which was a client state of the Assyrian Empire. Check out this map for more detail.
So now we can imagine why the Ahaz, king of Judah, and the people of Judah in their hearts were fearful of the two kingdoms allied against them in verse two. Then God send Isaiah and his son Shear-Jashub (interestingly enough means a remnant will return) to meet Ahaz and reassure him. In verse four not to lose heart as per God’s direction he describes the two allied kingdoms as two smoldering stubs of firewood, meaning there is little to fear from them. He goes on to condemn them, especially the northern kingdom followed by a prophecy about Jesus. Read the chapter and check it out for yourself.
It’s Monday, have a Great Week!