Friday, November 21, 2008

Isaiah 7:9b

If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. (NIV)
If you will not believe, you surely shall not last. (NASB)
If you are not firm in faith,you will not be firm at all. (ESV)
If your faith is not strong, you will not have strength enough to last. (NCV)

Isaiah 7:9b has always been one of my favourite verses of the Bible. It’s one that I turn to in my head often. I suppose you could say it’s my “life verse” as some people word it. I’d read the book of Isaiah before, but in this section Isaiah is talking about King Ahaz and the Assyrians and war, and I reckon I just didn’t take much notice of this particular verse. But re-reading it again several years ago, this little part in verse 9 jumped out at me:
If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (NIV). What a powerful truth in so few words!
Now, I know that quoting just these two lines might result in many people telling me I’m taking it out of context… but even though these words were directed to King Ahaz and the nation of Israel being established, I think these words are true for us today – no matter the context.

We may not be facing an army and trusting in Assyrians rather than on God… but we do face all sorts of things every day of our lives. Throughout the Bible we are told countless times to “stand firm”: 1 Corinthians 16:13 says “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong,” Ephesians 6 talks about the armour of God and tells us to “stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…” James 5:8 reminds us to “be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.” Isaiah 7:9b is yet another verse which, to me, reminds me of the utter importance of standing firm in our faith as it is followed by a warning that tells us that if we don’t, we will not stand at all.

Thinking of this – standing firm in faith – there are a few quick commentary references I’d like to point out taken from Isaiah 7:9
Jamieson, Faussett and Brown bring out the fact that there is a play on words here… in Hebrew this can be translated as: “If you will not confide, you will not abide.” And this is a very true warning that Ahaz needed to hear. Unfortunately he didn’t listen, and brought distress on himself by distrust in the Lord and trust in Assyria. He was warned that his shaken and distorted state would not be established; that though the things that were told to him were very encouraging, they would not be so to him unless he believed them and would be willing to take God at His word. This is so true of us today, who, when facing trials, attempt to fix things or produce results on our own or in other things other than God. Who, rather than taking God at His word and remembering His promises and love, decide to trust in the world or others for protection or comfort.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary states that “Faith is absolutely necessary to quiet and compose the mind in trials.” How absolutely true this is! And as this was true for the Israelites at the time this was written, it’s also true for us today.
John Darby writes about this verse saying that it was a reminder to the people of the time that they were not to be troubled by the fear of the people, but rather that they were to “sanctify Jehovah of hosts Himself, and give Him all His true importance in their hearts. He will be their sanctuary in the day of their trouble.”

This is why this verse is so applicable to us all each and every day. If we stand firm in our faith – if we give Him all His true importance in our heart – He will be our comfort, our protection, our everything. If we do not stand firm in our faith – if we give way to fear, to the world, to distress and distrust – then we will not stand at all.

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