Isaiah’s Messianic Vision: (04) Setting and Sign of Immanuel (Isaiah 7)
Isaiah’s Messianic Vision - Immanuel (Isaiah 7:10-15)
Isaiah 7:10–15 NET - The LORD again spoke to Ahaz: 7:11 “Ask for a confirming sign from the LORD your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” 7:12 But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the LORD to a test.” 7:13 So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 7:14 For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.
The Setting of Immanuel - The historical context is that Jerusalem is under the threat of the Northern Kingdom of Israel allied with Syria because Judah under the Davidic King, Ahaz, refused to band with them to fight Assyria. “Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel marched up to Jerusalem to do battle” (7:1). Northern Israel was about to besiege Jerusalem in order to overthrow the Davidic dynasty. Ahaz feared (7:2) and Isaiah goes to reassure Ahaz as he was out checking on the water reserves for the city of Jerusalem, preparing to hold out against such a siege (7:3). Isaiah says, “Make sure you stay calm! Don’t be afraid!” (7:4). The Word of hope that God gives to Ahaz, “It will not take place; it will not happen” (7:7). But faithfulness is called for on the part of Ahaz in his third year of reigning. Therefore, [lit.] “Be firm and then you will be confirmed [as king].” The Lord offered to give a confirming sign to him, but Ahaz rejected the Lord with pious words (7:12). Ahaz rejected trusting the Lord, while at the same time he was maneuvering to ally Judah with Assyria (trusting men rather than God, 2Kgs 16:7).
The Sign of Immanuel - This is the setting for the well known words of the next Immanuel prophecy. Given this, it is clear that the prophecy (7:10-16) is both a promise of deliverance and a threat of judgment to Judah. The Lord says I will give you (plural, meaning the “House of David”) a sign anyway. “Immanuel” will come and the Davidic covenant will be fulfilled. The promise is fulfilled temporarily in that the line of David continued in Hezekiah (Mt. 1:9). The prophecy is a promise of salvation in final fulfillment, Jesus Christ (who saves His people from their sins), but it is also a promise of judgment for those whose faith “does not remain firm” (i.e., Ahaz himself). Therefore, the rest of the chapter indicates that Assyria will be God’s instrument of judgment on both Israel and Syria, but this will also threaten Judah (Jerusalem). Judah is temporarily sustained but historically also went into exile (in Babylon) and Jerusalem was besieged (586 B.C.). The final Sign was that Jesus, the true heir of the David, was born of Mary at a time when hope was lost and now one could find a son of David.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more