“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
In reading through the book of Isaiah, I noticed that both chapters 7 and 36 have references to a place called the Washer’s Field with some interesting parallels. You can see the comparison below:
When King Ahaz is concerned about Syria and Ephraim joining forces to attack Judah:
“And the Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. And say to him, “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah” (Isa. 7:3-4, italics added).
Then (29 chapters and roughly 75 years later) when Assyria is coming against Hezekiah, King of Judah, it says:
“And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field” (Isa. 36:2, italics added).
The Washer’s Field, also called the Fuller’s Field, was likely north of the city of Jerusalem and close enough to the city that from the walls of Jerusalem you could hear someone speaking in the field.1 It also seems that this field had a pool (“the upper pool”) where those in Jerusalem would often do their wash, hence the name, “Washer’s Field”.2
And it is there, in Isaiah 36, that Judah is mocked: Assyria offering to give Judah 2,000 horses if Judah can produce enough riders for them (Isa. 36:8). God also is mocked by the Rabshakeh, as he urges the Israelites not to trust in God for deliverance (comparing the God of Israel to all the gods of the lands Assyria has already conquered), not to listen to Hezekiah’s reassurance of the Lord’s help, and that their subjection to the hand of Assyria is inevitable (Isa. 36:13-20).
As New Covenant children of God, we still have an enemy, and run into similar situations spiritually as Ahaz and Hezekiah did in the natural. In the place of our everyday – somewhere as simple and unpoetic as your laundry room – we have battles where we must choose either to receive and believe the word of the Lord or the word of our enemy. The deceiver may be trying to convince us that the Lord can’t deliver us this time, pointing to other gods that have failed as if they’re comparable to our God, or that this time He doesn’t care, that you shouldn’t listen to your spiritual leader’s assurance in the Lord, and that you’re too weak and only to be mocked. But the Lord’s words of strategy and reassurance for you is as it was for Ahaz: “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint” (Isa. 7:4). Further, the works of your enemy “shall not stand, and it shall not pass” (Isa. 7:7).
To the smoldering wicks that need to hear it: The Lord is enough. At the end of the Lord’s word to Ahaz, He says “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isa. 7:9b). This leads into arguably the best part of Ahaz’s story, and our story. For when the Lord asks Ahaz what sign he would like, Ahaz replies that he will not put God to the test. And because of his faith, Ahaz gets caught up in the storyline anticipating Christ. It is to him that it is spoken, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
So just as Ahaz may not have known what this promise really meant to the world, but simply was firm in his faith for what God had spoken over the battle, we might not know what listening to the Lord’s word for our situation and believing it can really mean. Let’s sign up to be those who are firm in our faith, who don’t wait for the mountain top moment in order to denounce the lies, who have ears to hear the Lord’s better word over us, and who entrust our all to Yahweh Every Day.
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