What does Isaiah 8:14 mean?
ESV: And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
NIV: He will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
NASB: Then He will become a sanctuary; But to both houses of Israel, He will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
CSB: He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, he will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
NLT: He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.
KJV: And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Verse Commentary:
The Lord does not change (Malachi 3:6). He is holy and all-powerful. To those who honor Him as holy (Isaiah 8:13), the Lord is a place of refuge. Their hope for survival and abundant life rests in Him. In this way, God is like a large, stable rock: a secure foundation and place of safety (Psalm 18:2).

However, to those who do not honor the Lord as holy, that same cornerstone becomes something a tripping hazard. God's truth cannot be denied, any more than a person can walk through a boulder. For those who reject Him, God becomes a "stumbling rock." He's something they cannot help but trip over. Everyone who tries to succeed and thrive apart from the Lord eventually falls and does not prosper. And for everyone who honors Him as holy, He is the solid rock on which they build their life.

Isaiah declares that it is the Lord who will become the stumbling stone for both houses of Israel. That means that both the northern ten tribes, Israel, and the southern two tribes, Judah, will be destroyed. The Lord will become a trap and a snare even to the people of Jerusalem in the end. They will refuse to honor Him, and that will bring them misery.

In the New Testament, Jesus describes Himself as the ultimate version of this rock (Matthew 21:42–44), the true cornerstone. Paul, too, makes clear that Jesus the Messiah is the stone of salvation for those who believe in Him (Romans 9:32–33).
Verse Context:
Isaiah 8:11–22 follows the prophecy about the coming destruction from the Assyrians. It includes a strong warning from the Lord to Isaiah to not follow the sins of the rest of Judah. He must not fear real or imagined threats. Instead, Isaiah must honor God and find safety in Him. The people will reject God, leading to ruin, and being taken away. Isaiah declares he will wait on the Lord and his family will be a sign that God has not abandoned those who trust Him. Those who reject God's Word, however, will remain in darkness.
Chapter Summary:
Isaiah 8 begins with the Lord telling Isaiah to write a name on a large sign. Then Isaiah conceives a son, with a woman referred to as the "prophetess," likely his wife. The son is given the name on the sign. Before the son can speak, Judah's enemies will be wiped out by Assyria. Assyria will then bring destruction on Judah. Isaiah must not live in fear and dread as the people do. They will stumble over the stone of the Lord instead of trusting in Him. Isaiah will continue to hope in the Lord. Those who reject God's truth will live in darkness.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter included a famous prophecy regarding the virgin birth of Jesus. Isaiah 8 continues to prophesy about the coming destruction of Judah's current enemies: Syria and Israel. Isaiah has a son whose name he has written on a sign. Before that son is old enough to talk, Assyria will destroy Judah's enemies and then bring destruction into Judah. The Lord warns Isaiah to honor God, not live in fear. The people will reject God as their foundation, falling into further sin. But Isaiah declares that he and his family will continue to point toward God's faithfulness. Those who reject God's revelation will live in and frustration and despair. This sets up additional prophecies which connect to the ministry of Christ.
Book Summary:
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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