Chapter 8 of Isaiah is easily seen as two parts. The first part builds on the prophesied judgment on national Israel by YHWH’s use of Assyria. He speaks to Isaiah: Isaiah 8:1-2 (HCSB) Then the LORD said to me, “Take a large piece of parchment and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. I have appointed trustworthy witnesses—Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberechiah.” The phrase “Maher-shalal-hash-baz” means “speeding to the plunder, hurrying to the spoil.” That is the message to be proclaimed to national Israel. Assyria will hurry to spoil Israel, they will make speed to plunder that land.
Isaiah 8:3-4 (HCSB) I was then intimate with the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. The LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz, for before the boy knows how to call out father or mother, the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried off to the king of Assyria.” Does this not remind of Hosea, who was told to take a woman as his wife and she gave birth to children with names that foretold what Jesus said in Matthew 21:43 ” the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and it shall be given to a nation that produces the fruits of it.” Isaiah’s child had the name which was the same as the message of doom to national Israel; a precursor to the kingdom being taken from them by God.
Verses 5 – 8 are YHWH speaking judgment on Israel in colorful word pictures, flowing waters that were meant to fertilize were rejected so God brings judgment with rushing waters, which are identified as the king of Assyria. His exploitation of Israel overflow the banks – it will be total. The flood will overwhelm both north and south kingdoms, with Judah being identified in verse 8 as the one to be ruined. The end of verse 8 calls Judah “Immanuel” – for it was from that land that the promised One would come.
Verse 9 brings a change in tone – as YHWH pronounces doom on those who attack Judah: Isaiah 8:9-10 (HCSB) Band together, peoples, and be broken; pay attention, all you distant lands; prepare for war, and be broken; prepare for war, and be broken. Devise a plan; it will fail. Make a prediction; it will not happen. For God is with us.
The kings of Assyria and the northern kingdom of Israel would band together and be broken – three times, showing completeness. They will plan and prepare and predict their overthrow of Judah, the land called Immanuel, but they will not be able to succeed for YHWH tells His people “God is with us” – Immanuel!
Just as sure as the seed of the woman would crush the head of the seed of the serpent, so that seed would be born as a human in Judah and He would be Immanuel – God with us! This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes!