Read Isaiah 7
The Sign of Immanuel
7 When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.
2 Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. 4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘It will not take place,
it will not happen,
8 for the head of Aram is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is only Rezin.
Within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.
9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son.
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’”
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”
13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”
Assyria, the Lord’s Instrument
18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also. 21 In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.
The kingdom of Assyria has just invaded the neighboring kingdom of Ephraim, which leaves King Ahaz (the King of Judah) extremely fearful. The Lord sends Isaiah to encourage him to “be careful, keep calm, and do not be afraid (v. 4). He is able to assure him with these words because the Lord guarantees that “it will not take place, it will not happen.” (v. 7). This is God’s promise, and Isaiah is calling upon Ahaz to trust in His promise. Now Ahaz has a decision to make: Should he trust that God is with him and will protect Judah or should he try to establish security another way?
God then tells Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. Why? God wants to strengthen his faith by further emphasizing that He is with him and that He can be trusted. However, Ahaz refuses. He does not want God to confirm that He will protect Judah because he has already decided not to trust God and make other arrangements. He refuses to ask for a sign because when God fulfills it, He would be obligated to believe.
How often are we guilty of the same thing? We don’t want to ask God for His wisdom in a decision because we know the answer would go against what we want to do. We don’t want to ask God how to spend our free time because we would rather numb out in front of the TV. We don’t want to ask God how to spend our money because we want to hold everything with a tight fist. God is inviting us into a greater intimacy with Him, in which we can approach Him at all times of the day, asking Him questions and seeking His wisdom.
Despite Ahaz’s refusal, the Lord tells him about the sign He will give anyways. This sign will literally bear the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us”, which is the very thing that Ahaz needed, and that God was trying to show him. How beautiful that God gives us what we need even when we don’t deserve it or ask for it.
Ahaz made the wrong decision to distrust God and take matters into his own hands. However, God ultimately assures His people that He is with them and He would raise up a faithful Anointed One in the future.
- What decision are you not inviting God into because you are afraid of the answer?
- Do you believe that God is with you? How should that impact your daily life?
- After reading this chapter, are you more or less inclined to trust God? Why?
Did You Know?
There are a number of Messianic prophecies in Isaiah, including verse 14 of this chapter.
If you are wondering how to further identify Messianic prophecies as you study the Old Testament, read this article from GotQuestions.org.
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