It was an ancient prophecy, but it contains an abiding principle. And in the original language, it looks like at its core is a twice-repeated word. Aman, aman.
Back story: In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, the kings of Syria and Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage ware against it. And, in the face of this massive military aggression, the hearts of Ahaz and the people of Judah “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (Isa. 7:1-2). Appropriate response, I would think. Makes sense to me.
The LORD, however, sends Isaiah the prophet to the king and commands him, “Be careful, be quite, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint” (7:4a). How come? Because, declares the LORD, though they advance together to conquer Judah, “It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass” (7:7a).
Hmm . . . An enemy army is advancing. Their intent is to terrify us, conquer us, and rule over us. But we’re not to fear, faint, or fret. Because Isaiah says that You have said, Lord God, “It ain’t gonna happen.” Your word, is that all we’ve got to go on? Apparently.
And here’s the abiding principle. The Lord God then says,
“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”
(Isaiah 7:9b ESV)
If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (CSB). If you will not believe, you surely shall not last (NASB). If you will not confide, you shall not abide (Hebrew play on words). Aman, aman.
Believe and be still. Believe and be strong. Not complicated. Not easy either.
To be faced with what would naturally bring fear but to stay calm, be quiet, and trust that what God has said will be, will be. To face a situation that rightfully causes the heart to faint, and yet, by switching out just one letter, stand firm because of faith. That’s the principle I’m reminded of in this passage.
It is the way of the people of God. The way since the beginning of God choosing for Himself a people. Check out the first occurrence of aman in the Scriptures:
And [the LORD] brought [Abraham] outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed (aman) the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.
Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Without faith it is impossible to stand before God (Eph. 2:8-9). Without faith it is also impossible to stand with God (Isa. 7:9). Lord, I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).
Chewing on these ancient words of prophecy. Confessing how often I fail to rest in this abiding principle.
Believe and be still. Believe and be strong. Aman, aman.
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.