Isaiah 7:10-17 ESV
The Sign of Immanuel 10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask a a sign of the Lord your 1 God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he 1 said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you b weary my God also? 14 Therefore the c Lord himself will give you a sign. d Behold, the e virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name f Immanuel. 1 15 He shall eat g curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 h For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be i deserted. 17 j The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that k Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”
Despite our unfaithfulness God will always remain faithful. Many of have thought or heard something like this and have understood it as something encouraging, but this is not the case here in Isaiah 7:10-17. If fact here it is a terrifying thing. God promised His people in the desert that if they did not obey Him and keep all of His commands that He would "scatter you among all the peoples, from one end of the earth to the other... and among these nations you will find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of you foot." Deut. 28:64-65. Ahaz and the house of Judah have departed from God's ways and now God is keeping His promise to bring upon them suffering without respite. What a heart wrenching thing to hear, but the problem is Ahaz nor his people can hear because they have put their trust and faith in the Assyrians. In 7:10-12 God commands Ahaz to ask for His help and He will do it regardless of how big the request. Ahaz's responds as if to say "it's ok God we don't need your help, we have the Assyrians". Imaging that the creator of the universe offering to help move and mountain and you say "it's ok, we got this". How proud and arrogant do you have to be to say this. Ahaz's response is truly surprising yet how often do we do the same thing to God? The LORD's response displays His faithfulness. He says "even though you will not ask for a sign I will give you one. I will send you a son born of a virgin; and before he knows right from wrong I will destroy the nation that you thought would give you respite and I will destroy you and leave your land barren." As harsh as a desert is on life so will be the plight of the house of Judah. Quite simply God is saying I will keep the promise I made to you in the wilderness. However, that is not the only promise the LORD made with His people. There is hope even in the midst of destruction for the boys name is Immanuel; God is with us. So even though the house of Judah will be without rest for what will seem like an unending season God will still be faithful to His promises. A he did remain faithful to His promise "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name "Immanuel" (which means, God with us) . Matthew 1:20-23. This is not just encouraging, it is beyond encouraging; this is life giving! How wonderful and worthy of all of our eternal praise is our Lord Jesus Christ!
Main point summary
Despite our unfaithfulness God will always remain faithful.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz,
The LORD spoke through Isaiah to Ahaz again,
“Ask a a sign of the Lord your 1 God;
"Ask for a sign from the LORD you God;
let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
there is not limit to what I will do to help you"
But Ahaz said,
But Ahaz said,
“I will not ask,
"No, I will not ask
and I will not put the Lord to the test.”
we do not want your help."
And he 1 said,
And Isaiah said,
“Hear then, O house of David!
"Listen to me, all of God's people!
Is it too little for you to weary men,
Are you so proud that you refuse the help of righteous men
that you b weary my God also?
and the help of God also?
Therefore the c Lord himself will give you a sign.
Therefore, even though you are ignorant the LORD will help you anyways.
d Behold, the e virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
that is to say He will give you a virgin who will have a son
and shall call his name f Immanuel. 1
and you will call him God is with us.
He shall eat g curds and honey
and he will eat the diet of a poor boy
when he knows how to
even when he is a young man,
refuse the evil
that is when he accountable to know what is wrong
and choose the good.
and what is right
h For before the boy knows how to
that is to say before the boy is morally responsible (12 years old)
refuse the evil
and he knows what is wrong
and choose the good,
and what is right
the land whose two kings you dread will be i deserted.
that land of two of your enemies will be destroyed by the Assyrians.
j The Lord will bring upon you
and the LORD will send them after you as well
and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come
and among all your people there will be days of desertion and suffering,
since the day that k Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”
just like the day that Ephraim left from Judah.
The nation of Judah had just been told that they were being conspired against. They were also commended to stand firm and have faith. Because their conspiracy will not come to pass. Immediately after Ahaz is told from Yahweh that if he asks for a sign he will be given it. Despite God's Himself promising deliverance and offering to give a sign as proof Ahaz responds by saying "I will not put the Lord to the test." Essentially saying no to God. We know this be the case because in the next portion of the text Yahweh accuses Ahaz as trying the patience of God. This is blatant denial of God's help. God didn't just ask Ahaz if he wanted a sign He commanded him to ask. Ahaz couldn't be more clear he didn't want God's input of help. He was going to "go it alone" Another significant point is that here is just says the LORD said to Ahaz, even though God was speaking through Isaiah. This is significant because Isaiah understood rightly that He was speaking God's very words. This is the peak of ignorance, a rejection of God, and dependence on self.
The passage here switches from "your" God to "my" God. This is significant because and highlight Ahaz's rejection of God all the more. Isaiah's tone is definitively harsh and accusatory. Ahaz has put entirely to much trust in himself. He is the epitome of pride. In the accounts of 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. Judah was put under seige by the northern kingdoms, and in both of these accounts instead of reaching towards God for help he instead asked for help from the King of Assyria, who rather than helping inflicted the nation of Judah, because Ahaz even used the gold and silver in the temple to pay for Assyrias "protection". Essentially Ahaz made a deal with the devil and we guilty of the very things that cause God's to spit the inhabitants of the land out in the first place.
However, despite God provides Ahaz with a sign, but rather than a sign of blessing it is becomes a reminder of God promise in Lev. 18:28. In which God promised that He will vomit them out of the land of blessing if they do not live according to His laws. And so now God's has to keep His promise, but even in judgement there is grace. Behold a virgin ( see note What does virgin mean?) will conceive and bear a son. As keeping with most OT prophecy there is an immediate fulfillment in history and complete fulfillment in Christ. The immediate fulfillment is uncertain, but it is thought to be a son of Hezekiah. However, there is little to establish this, and much more clearly Christ is the fulfillment of this as recorded in Matt 1:23. The temporal cues in this passage were fulfilled between 2-13 years of the prophecy. (3 years Damascus, 13 years Samaria; Aram & Israel 1-2 years), But in a greater sense we don't have an expiry date on the promise. So although, there was temporary relief at different times the whole section of Isaiah 7-11 seem to indicate immediate and much later fulfillment. This is common in NT eschatology. We have an imminent and future return of Christ. (see not Already not Yet). None the less this child will come into certain circumstances. He will be born in poverty. The reference to curds and honey (sour milk and honey NET). Some make a connection here to the land flowing with milk and honey. In those passages it conveys abundant blessing. This could very well be the case here, but unlikely because they currently had a good source of agricultural resources and it is therefore more likely referring to sustenance diet after all of that is lost. Still if could refer to abundance because there will be very few left after the Assyrians invade the land. However it also seems to be a diet for children who are not yet weaned. This is hardly able to feed a full grown adult or a growing boy, furthermore this is not speaking about the whole nation, but a family. Thus it would seem a much better to conclude that this child would be born into poverty. The age of moral responsibility. Although the ramifications of moral responsibility extend to even our day, and there are very little textual clues as to exactly what age this is. The phrase "when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good" is a reference to the age of moral responsibility. Now it is thought to be around 12 years old. In this case the verse seems to be saying that even when he is more than old enough to eat adult food he will still be eating a sustenance diet. Indicating poverty! In the ground statement we have a temporal indication that before he reaches this age the land will lay deserted, and that the days the people will live in will be more dire than any other time since Solomon. And it will be done by the hand of Assyria, the very kingdom that Ahaz was hoping to win favor with. Therefore, God is declaring to Ahaz that his lack of faith will result in Judah's destruction, that his kingdom would turn into a desolate wasteland. However, in that wasteland there will still be hope because the boy who was born to a virgin would be God with us, and the government will sit upon His shoulders Isaiah 9:6-7. There is an alternative way to translate this phrase. "which will help him know how to reject evil and choose what is right. -NET" This has minor ramification that are different from above, but this translation is based on when being a purpose/result conjunction rather than temporal. There is good exegetical evidence to translate it this way, but the basic meaning remains. With this reading it would emphasize that because of the poverty surrounding the child he will recognize the effects of sin and resolve to make it right and return the nation to God. This certainly would make sense in the immediate fulfillment of the prophecy, but it would have been irrelevant to Jesus. It would have been significant to the people who hear Jesus' message, but Jesus' understanding of sin is derived from His very character since He is God (with us). The wealthiest places and people were some of the most spiritually bankrupt places on earth. And so Jesus would not have needed to be raised in poverty to be reminded of this. However, this minor change does not change the meaning of the text. The same truth is still being presented. Because of Ahaz's rejection of God Judah is going to put to destruction, but God will send Immanuel to restore and reconcile God's people to Himself.
What Does Virgin Mean? Textually virgin simply means a young woman. Many translations give this rendering. Although, it is the more literal rendering of the word, contextually it would have meant virgin. For it would have referred to a young woman of marriageable age. And young women who was married would have been referred to in a different manner. Therefore it certainly would have been expected that that she was a virgin. Moreover, the Septuagint translation uses a rendering that would refer specifically to a virgin. This is the word and context that Matthew uses to record the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Israelite didn't necessarily expect a women to conceive by the Holy Spirit, but that a young women who is now marriageable age would get married and conceive a child and name him Immanuel. What I find to be incredible is that OT text is written in such a way that is possible to satisfy both the immediate fulfillment through man and complete fulfillment in Christ. Furthermore the Septuagint was written much later and the change I believe what orchestrated to prophecy that Jesus would have been born a virgin, as there were other words that could have been used, but the Holy Spirit let them to write down those very words.