The Lord spoke to me again: “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel !” – Isaiah 8:5-8
This passage follows on the heals of yesterday’s passage about water holes. The topic is similar. God is rebuking the Israelites for choosing earthly leaders who often lead them away from God rather than relying on the “gently flowing waters of Shiloah” that God is offering. It seems God is referring to the spring and pool located near the ancient city of Jerusalem. This spring provided the main water source for the city. Without it Jerusalem would probably not have become the “City of David“.
God is reminding the Israelites that the “water supply” that has made Jerusalem and them successful and fruitful is in fact Himself. He is going to allow a “flood” from the north “the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates— the king of Assyria with all his pomp” to invade Jerusalem and take over Judah and the city of Jerusalem. This seems harsh punishment, but the Israelites made their choice when they got behind “Rezin and the son of Remaliah”. They chose their water source and it was not the One that promised to come and dwell with them.
The water imagery describing this flood from the north is powerful and vivid: “It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck.” It sounds as if this flood will affect all those who dwell in Judah. This seems somewhat unfair to those who are following God, but there are consequences when leaders fail to lead while following.
The last sentence of this passage has me confused. It reads “Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel !” It seems like the “its” is referring to this flood of judgement from the north, but the reference to “outspread wings” seems like a murky metaphor at best. Then it gets really confusing it ends with “Immanuel” – God with us. This was just discussed a few passages ago when we heard about Immanuel at the aqueduct. So this judgement that comes like a flood from the north is “God with us”? I am not sure what this means.
I guess one could view Jesus’ arrival as “Immanuel” as a judgement of sorts, and He did come from Nazareth which is in fact north of Jerusalem. His word and followers did grow like a flood throughout Judah. It is interesting that the mixed metaphor provides for both judgement (a flood) and reconciliation (the outspread wings of Immanuel). That is my understanding of Jesus. He is the lion and lamb at the same time. He came to show us the way to be with God, but we are still free to choose the flood.
Prayer: God some passages are more confusing than others. Help me to understand the many ways that you are Immanuel – God with us.