on October 27th. Jesus and His disciples took breaks and we believe in following His example.
The Road to Jesus Leads to an Incarnation – Isaiah 7 & 8
Isaiah is preaching to God’s people during a time when they have recently experienced material prosperity but now they are in engaged in war or potential war. The northern tribes of Israel have allied themselves with Syria (Damascus) against Assyria (Syro-Ephraimite War, 734-32 B. C.).
A famous promise of the coming Branch (Isaiah 4:2) is found in 7:10ff. The only time in biblical history, God gives a man an opportunity to ask for his own sign. In a show of pseudo-piety, King Ahaz declines. Isaiah rebukes Ahaz for his lack of faith in God (vs 13).
So, God gives him a sign: “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.”
There is no doubt that this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in the coming of Jesus through Mary, a virgin (Matt. 1:23) and that Jesus was the ultimate sign to Israel that they needed to trust God to deal with their biggest problem: (not Assyria or Israel) sin.
The challenge, however, is to see how this prophecy can be a sign to Ahaz with the fulfillment in Jesus not being for another 700 years. This question has vexed Bible students for centuries and I doubt I’ll solve it definitively. However, I’ll share my thoughts. First, based on verses 15-16, I don’t think it is the virgin who will be the sign but the boy who would (one day) be born to her. It is the maturation time frame of the boy that is the sign to Ahaz.
This sign is given to Judah as a whole; the “you” (vs 14) is plural. The virgin would have a son whose nature would be “God with us” (Immanuel). In the time it takes such a boy to learn the difference between good and evil, the threat from Syria and Israel will no longer exist (vs 16).
Isaiah’s own son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, will also be a sign for Israel with the same message (8:3-4). Before he is old enough to cry “My father” or “My mother,” Syria and Israel will fall to the king of Assyria.
Yet, Jerusalem should not trust in Assyria, because Judah is going to fall to Assyria as well. Yet, she will not be totally devastated because she belongs to Immanuel (8:8). It seems hard to believe, then, that Immanuel, whose people will be devastated, is Isaiah’s son or some other human person. The Gentile peoples will make plans against Judah but they will be thwarted because of Immanuel (8:10).
There are two more references to Immanuel in chapter 8, but not by name. In verse 14, He will be a “sanctuary” for those who fear the Lord of hosts but a “stone to strike and a rock to stumble over” for those who ignore Him (a promise fulfilled in Jesus: Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:8).
Also, the faithful, the remnant, are the Lord’s children, showing that He and they are of the same nature (8:18; fulfilled in Jesus, Hebrews 2:13). That is why the Lord has concern for the faithful remnant.
Isaiah has introduced the Branch in 4:2. In 7:14, this Branch, who will be identified as the new King (chapter 9), has the nature of being “God with us.” But, He will be also made like His children (8:18) so that He can save them from their sins. His person will separate the faithful from the unfaithful (8:14).
Truly Isaiah is the “Messianic Prophet.”