Isaiah 7:1–14, 16comment (0)
March 12, 2009
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: Isaiah 7:1–14, 16
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
Act on Revealed Truth
Isaiah 7:1–14, 16
In this uncertain world, people encounter situations that pose various threats, which may be related to job security, failing health, the death of a loved one, accidents, marital infidelity, economic recessions, natural disasters and the like. Such situations can cause people to base their response on worldly wisdom; but God has given His people promises and instructions in His Word, and He always wants us to act on the basis of His revealed truth rather than upon worldly wisdom.
Check for Misplaced Focus (1–2)
The years 735–732 B.C. witnessed what historians call the Syro-Ephraimite War. How would small countries like Aram (Syria in the King James Version), Israel and Judah deal with the impending military might of Assyria? Because Ahaz, king of Judah, refused to join an alliance against Assyria, the leaders of Aram and Israel invaded Judah, intending to replace Ahaz with a king who would join the alliance. Ahaz and the people of Judah were terrified by Israel and Aram’s military campaign and their focus was misplaced. When facing the challenges of frightening circumstances, we must check to see whether we are focusing on the threat or the Lord.
Check for Misplaced Confidence (3–9)
The Lord spoke to Ahaz in two ways. First Isaiah and his son became a sign to Ahaz of God’s preserving grace. Isaiah’s name means “the Lord saves;” Shear-jashub, Isaiah’s son’s name, means “a remnant shall return.” Both names declared God’s ability to save His people. Second Isaiah spoke, telling Ahaz the two men he feared were nothing more than smoking sticks that would never break into flame — they were fizzles. Within 65 years, they would be swept away, forgotten. Sixty-five years later (in 669 B.C.), the Assyrian king depopulated Aram and Israel and they ceased to exist. Isaiah’s concluding words to Ahaz were that if Ahaz would trust God, then his kingdom would last, but he would experience the direst results if he refused to do so. Unhappily Ahaz already had chosen to place his confidence in Assyria rather than in the Lord (2 Kings 16:7–8).
Check for Missing Integrity (10–12)
Hypocritical Ahaz, having decided to rely upon Assyria for help, piously refused to ask for a sign to assure the Lord’s protection of Judah. Such a sign would be an attesting miracle confirming the Lord’s word. When facing difficult circumstances, we must check to see whether we are being honest with God, ourselves and others.
Check for Misplaced Faith (13–14, 16)
The Lord rebuked Ahaz for his lack of faith and gave the royal dynasty a sign to demonstrate the threat posed by Aram and Israel would come to nothing. Virtually all Bible scholars, on the basis of Matthew 1:23, believe Isaiah 7:14 refers to Jesus’ birth. Some say Isaiah had only Messiah in mind. Others think the prophecy had an initial application in Isaiah’s time and an ultimate fulfillment at Jesus’ birth. Scholars holding a dual reference usually agree that the translation “virgin” is correct, acknowledging the Hebrew term literally meaning “young woman of marriageable age” is also used to refer to a “young woman without sexual experience.” This means Isaiah used “virgin” in reference to a young woman who, at the time of his prophecy, was an unmarried virgin. This young woman would soon marry, conceive in the normal manner and give birth to a son. Before that child would be old enough to know right and wrong, the threat Ahaz faced would have passed. The details of this child’s birth and identity are not given.
When Matthew quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he (as does the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint) used a Greek word meaning specifically “a young woman without sexual experience.” Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. There was no human father. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled completely by the virgin birth of Jesus. When facing life’s challenges, we must check to see whether we are basing our actions on faith in the Lord’s revealed truth or worldly wisdom.