Isaiah 7 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
At this point in Israel’s history, we need to differentiate Israel from Judah. As you read Isaiah, this is ar the divided kingdom. After Solomon, the ten tribes in the north broke away from Judah (and Benjamin). So earlier in the chronology of the Bible, you could refer to all the 12 tribes as Israel. After the divided kingdom, Israel only refers to the northern tribes. One could also call them Ephraim or Samaria. This nation was taken into exile in 722 BC (“And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people). Of the two, Israel fell into deeper sin quicker than Judah.
Pekah, the son of Remaliah is the king of Israel at this time and Ahaz is the king of Judah. Both are not good kings though the emphasis here is on Ahaz. Israel has joined forces with Syria whose King is Rezin. Damascus is the captial city of Syria. The big player on the scene at this time is Assyria.
When Ahaz hears about this alliance between Israel and Syria, Ahaz is afraid. They “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” v. 2. God instructs Isaiah, with his son, Shear-jashub (a remnant shall return) to meet Ahaz and offer him help. Ahaz is having none of it. Isaiah tells him to remain calm. There is nothing to worry about since Pekah and Rezin are merely “two smoldering stumps of firebrands” v. 4. Isaiah says they will not replace Ahaz with the son of Tabeel v. 6. Verse 9 in the ESV captures the sense of the original well, “if you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” Faith for Ahaz meant believing God can overcome Israel and Syria. Instead of trusting in Assyria, Ahaz king of Judah is told to trust in God. Which Ahaz did not do.
Then Isaiah asks Ahaz for a sign, any sign from God. This was not intended to be rebuffed. But Ahaz does not comply. This is a mistake and reveals Ahaz is not trusting God. Hear in v. 13, we see this concept of wearying God which we saw in v. 1:14 where God is weary of Israel’s worship. So God provides the sign: a virgin would bear a son and his name shall be called Immanuel meaing God with us v. 14. This is a difficult verse to understand without the New Testament’s commentary (Matt. 1:23). Scholars puzzle over how to see child born hundreds of years later could provide any help to Ahaz’s weak or non-existent faith. Some think this is Isaiah’s son (how could anyone think another person’s wife is a virgin?) or Hezekiah’s mother giving birth.
Considering all the factors of Isaiah’s prophecy, E.J. Young writes, “there are three points which needs to be stressed. (1) The birth must be a sign. (2) The mother of the child is one who is both unmarried and a good woman. This fact simply cannot be glossed over, and in itself rules out those interpretations which regard the mother as a married woman. (3) The very presence of the child brings GHo to His people (The Book of Isaiah. Vol. 1. E.J. Young p. 291).
In verse 15, this seems to indicate the resolution of the problem of Israel and Syria will be short-lived. The food the child is eating is considered royal food which is another indicator this child is a wonder-child (which seems to work against considering Hezekiah as the child Isaiah is referring to in v. 14). This chapter appears to point to a child in the future rather than one born near the time of this prophecy.
From 18ff, we see a number of prophecies or one that has many elements all promising judgment. In 18-19, both Assyria and Egypt are whistled for by God to judge Judah. Then Isaiah seems to know about the treaty Ahaz made with Assyria (against Israel and Syria but also against God’s will). The razor (from Assyria) will shave everywhere, even the beard, a sign of honor.
Then in 21-22, there are so few people that the animals produce enough food to eat well. There is judgment and grace in these verses. Then in 23-25, the judgment of God is seen by vineyards and cultivated land which revert back to thorns and briers.
As Ahaz and Judah turn to Assria for help, God turns to judgment for Judah. First, Assyria takes Israel away to exile and then Babylon takes Judah into exile in 587 B.C. So little of Isaiah’s message was heeded so what he warned came to pass.
Father, help me to heed the many warnings of judgment and take them to heart. I find it easy to hid sin in my heart thinking I can hid my sin from others and you. As I read these prophecies let my eyes, my heart drink in the hope and grace of messianic prophecy. Remind me that I live in the best of times. Keep me seeking You, Your will, and the good of Your people. In Christ’s powerful name. Amen.