The Hebrew prophets went
from one crisis to another. They lived on the heels
of political intrigue. One of the greatest statesmen
and spokesman for God during that chaotic age was
Scholars suggest that
perhaps as much as twenty years rapidly passes
between Isaiah chapters six and seven. The
sixteen–year reign of Jotham, the son of Uzziah of
Judah, has passed without a word from Isaiah. Then
we jump from the death of King Uzziah, at the
beginning of Jotham's reign to his son, King Ahaz.
With a quick stroke of the pen Isaiah takes us from
the long righteous reign of Uzziah to his idolatrous
grandson who sacrificed his own son to a pagan god
of Molech. The kingdom of David had sunk to the
condition of faithless, godless pagans.
Politically things were
as bad as they were spiritually. Assyria was the
superpower who threatened its neighbors. Judah's two
neighbors to the north were threatening Ahaz, so he
hired the king of Assyria to protect him. Ahaz
sacked the Temple in Jerusalem of all the vessels of
silver and gold and sent them to the king of Assyria
as payment for his protection. He played the
superpower against the neighboring states. Ahaz
forgot that when you give a mouse a piece of cheese
he then wants the whole glass of milk.
The Syro-Ephraimitic war
in 735 B.C. involved this coalition with the
Northern Kingdom of Israel and Syria against
Assyria. King Jotham of Judah continued his father's
policy of independence and steadfastly refused to
join in the coalition against Assyria. At this time
Egypt tried to make a bid for power. However, in 735
Israel and Syria staged an attack on Judah and were
within three days of entering the land of Judah.
This sent King Ahaz and his cabinet into panic
(Isaiah 7:1–2). Ahaz's heart "and the hearts of his
people shook as the trees of the forest shake with
the wind." Psychological war had done its trick. The
national leadership was in a panic.
What does Yahweh have to
say in a time of crisis?
The LORD God is
Sovereign (vv. 3–9)
The LORD sent His
spokesman to King Ahaz (v. 3ff). Isaiah is commanded
to take his son Shear–jashub with him out of the
city to the water reservoir to meet Ahaz who is
inspecting the water supply in preparation for the
siege of the city by Israel and Syria. Jerusalem
didn't have a natural source of water, so it had to
be brought in and stored.
There is a beautiful play
on words in Isaiah that reinforces his message. His
name means "Yahweh is salvation," or "Salvation of
the LORD." Shear–jashub means, "a remnant shall
return." The kid doesn't say a word. He just
accompanies his father to the end of the conduit at
the Fuller's Field. His name says it all. Only "a
remnant shall return" if you do not take Yahweh at
His word and believe Him for your salvation. Let
Yahweh be your salvation and a remnant will return.
God's message to Ahaz and
his royal cabinet is you have nothing to fear,
therefore trust in the LORD. Take care, and be calm,
have no fear and do not be fainthearted because
these two pieces of sticks have already burned out
and are just a lot of smoke. Syria and Israel are
nothing more than two burned out sticks and there is
not enough life left in them to flame up again. They
are just a trickle of smoke, like burned out stumps.
They are literally "fire–stirrers." They are
Historically, within 65
years the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be taken
captive and Syria would be destroyed by Assyria (2
Kings 15:29; 16:9). It took place just as God said
it would. Isaiah's sarcasm comes alive when he
doesn't even mention the name of Pekah, but the son
of Remaliah, "the son of nobody" (v. 4). The name of
the puppet king they had planned to install was the
son of Tabeel, meaning "good for nothing" (v. 6).
Out of disrespect, Isaiah doesn't even mention the
guys' names. Don't panic, God is sovereign. Don't
waste your time and energy on these idle threats
I think one of the
reasons God sent Isaiah to meet Ahaz at the
laundryman’s field was so there would witnesses to
the encounter. Since there was plenty of water
available in that spot it may have been a gathering
place where people in Jerusalem came to wash their
clothes. Their ears must have burned, too, as they
heard the prophet saying if Judah believed Yahweh,
they had a future, if not their doom was sealed.
They will endure only if they continue in faith;
otherwise they will not be established.
King Ahaz already had his
mind made up. He clung to his stubborn unbelief (2
Ask for a sign (vv.
God told Ahaz to choose a
sign as evidence that the message is true. Make it
as difficult as you like. "Ask a sign for yourself
from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or
high as heaven" (v. 11). Ask for a miracle, Ahaz. It
will be a pledge of divine certainty. It will prove
the Word of God. The king hasn't openly denied the
God of his father David at this time. He is even
granted the liberty of penetrating as deeply as he
wished into the providence of God. Go ahead, Ahaz,
ask Him! What will it be? Remember that God is the
One who is graciously giving Ahaz the opportunity to
ask for anything! What would you have asked for? How
would you have responded to the invitation?
Ahaz would not ask, "I
will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!" (v. 12).
His response is evidence
of pious unbelief. The king knows that if he did
choose a sign and the LORD demonstrated Himself he
would be obligated to believe and obey Him. Ahaz did
not want to be accountable to God. Even in our day,
God has revealed Himself with undeniable signs and
testimonies and still men do not believe because
they will not. "I will not ask, nor will I test the
Lord," is a mask for stubborn unbelief.
Probably by now every
person stopped what he was doing and silence fell
over the scene. You could have heard Sprint's pin
drop in dead silence as the prophet's blood began to
"Listen now, O house of
David!" Isaiah shouts. "Is it too slight a thing for
you to try the patience of men, that you will try
the patience of my God as well?"
When God proposes a sign,
it is not a test. It is an opportunity and privilege
to obey, and when we obey we experience God.
Therefore, since Ahaz
refused to ask for a sign, God went ahead and gave
him one. It was God–sized. It was not a Mickey Mouse
Therefore the Lord
Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will
be with child and bear a son, and she will call His
name Immanuel (v. 14).
Huh. What did he say? No
doubt, Ahaz wishes to this day he had gone ahead and
asked something, anything from the LORD.
is the Hebrew word here and it signifies a
marriageable young lady of unblemished character. A
woman with such a reputation would be classified as
a virgin. The best translation for almah is
"virgin" with the alternate reading "young woman" or
"maiden" in the margin. She is a young woman or
maiden with the reputation of being a virgin. She
didn't have to blush when the subject came up. She
had kept herself pure. Both the usage and context
support our translating "virgin" in this passage. In
the context of God's message to Ahaz we are led to
expect something very unusual. It would not be
unusual for a maiden to conceive. However, for a
virgin to conceive would fulfill the necessary
meaning of the sign in the context of chapter seven.
This sign would be a tremendous encouragement to the
faith of the remnant of Israel. It would also bring
judgment and condemnation to the unfaithful in
David's household. Thus, judgment and salvation are
evident in the promised sign.
There is another Hebrew
word for virgin, bethulah, signifying a young
maiden living in seclusion in her parent's house and
still a long way from matrimony. However, almah
would fit our context better meaning a marriageable
young lady of unblemished character or reputation.
It is true she is a young woman or maiden, but that
is not the comprehensive understanding of the word.
She is a young woman of marriageable age who has
never known a man sexually.
God with Us
If you have a problem
with the "virgin" conceiving and bearing a child
that should be nothing in comparison to the thought
of Immanuel––God with us in the flesh. That is the
greatest feat. How else could the "Word become flesh
and dwell among us" than by means of a virgin
becoming pregnant and bearing a son? God in the
flesh means "God with us." The child to be born will
be called Immanuel; therefore, the translation
"virgin" is demanded in the sentence. It is nothing
short of a miracle, and that is exactly where the
problem lies with those who want to reject "virgin"
in Isaiah 7:14. If you do not want to believe in
miracles then you will have a problem with this sign
The child called Immanuel
will be a special child and will embody the truth,
"God with us." This special child born of a virgin
will be God among His people. Only as we look into
His face, listen to His voice and see Him in action
do we know what God is really like (Hebrews 1:1–3).
All of Christianity rests
upon the foundation of this prophecy in Isaiah
chapter seven. God meant the sign to be earth
shaking. God meant it to be such a sign that when it
was actually fulfilled in history men would stand
back and say, I saw God do it! It is something only
God can do.
The sign of Immanuel,
"God with us," is the coming of the child of a
virgin. That sign was fulfilled in the person of
Jesus of Nazareth.
Nothing in history
approaches the mystery, beauty and glory of the LORD
God coming to be with His people.
God sent Gabriel to Mary
and said, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb,
and bear a son, and you shall name Him, Jesus. He
will be great, and will be called the Son of the
Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne
of His father David; and He will reign over the
house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no
end" (Luke 1:31–33).
Mary got rather upset
with the angel. "How can this be, since I am a
virgin," she demanded (Luke 1:34). There is no
question about the Greek word she used. The word for
"virgin" always means a marriageable young woman who
had preserved the purity of her body. She kept
herself sexually pure. If the child were
illegitimate it could not be a sign. The whole
context of the Bible rules it out. If the birth was
out of the ordinary, and unusual because she was a
virgin then it is of such a magnitude that God has
come to be with His people and deal with their sins.
There is only one person in history of whom it can
be said that He was God incarnate, God with His
people, and that is Jesus Christ. The very presence
of this child, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem
cannot be applied to anyone else. Jesus the Christ
is the Son of the Virgin and the Mighty God.
The deity and
preexistence of Christ demanded this miraculous
conception and Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.
"And the angel answered
and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon
you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow
you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be
called the Son of God. . . For nothing will be
impossible with God" (Luke 1:35, 37).
"Now the birth of Jesus
Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been
betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she
was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. . . .
And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name
Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from
their sin. . . . And Joseph . . . kept her a virgin
until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His
name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18–25, et passim; cf.
Luke 2:1–21). They named Him "Jesus." They named Him
after His Father! They called Him Joshua. The
original full form is Jehoshua, meaning "Yahweh our
salvation," "Yahweh saves," Yahweh's salvation."
"God with us." Now we
know what He is like. This could only be true when
the Word became flesh and dwelt among His people in
the person of the Anointed of God. Oh, the wonder of
wonder, God in the corporeal self–manifestation to
His people. He is a super–human person. He is the
incarnation of deity. This coming child would be God
among His people. John 1:1–3, 18, 18; 14:14–20;
The godly Charles Wesley
"Offspring of a Virgin's
Veiled in flesh the
Hail th' incarnate
If you have never put
your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior,
please take a few moments to reflect over A Free
Gift for You. It is our prayer that you will come to
know Him as your Savior.
Title: Isaiah 7:14
God with Us
Christ in the Old Testament