ISAIAH CHAPTER 7.
Ahaz Given the Promise of Deliverance.
GOD PROMISES HELP AGAINST SYRIA AND EPHRAIM. — V. 1. And it came to pass in the days of Alias, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, 2 Kings 15, 37; 16, 5. 6; 2 Chron. 28, 5. 6, that Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, who had formed an alliance, 2 Kings 15, 37, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. According to the historical accounts this war took place about 743-739 B. C., with the preliminary advantage entirely on the side of the allies; for Rezin took the harbor of Elath on the Elanitic Gulf, and Pekah gained a victory over a large army of Judah. Nevertheless, Jerusalem was not taken, very likely because the allies did not even find occasion to lay siege to it; their plans were overthrown. V. 2. And it was told the house of David, the reigning monarch of that line, in this case Ahaz, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim, depending upon the northern kingdom as a faithful ally, its armies having joined Israel’s forces to strengthen them, or being supported by them. And his heart was moved and the heart of his people, both King Ahaz and all the people of Judah being frightened by the invasion, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind, their terror being intensified by their feeling of guilt. V. 3. Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Himself taking charge of affairs in this emergency, Go forth now to meet Alias, thou and Shear-jashub (“A remnant returns”), thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, one of the reservoirs where the water of the city was stored, chap. 36, 2, in the highway of the fuller’s field, which was also situated west of the city, near the pool, this highway apparently being the main caravan road leading from Jerusalem to Joppa; v. 4. and say unto him, who was probably engaged in having the fortifications strengthened, Take heed and be quiet, perfectly unconcerned and without worry; fear not, neither be faint-hearted, literally, “and thy heart, not be it soft with despondency,” for the two tails of these smoking fire-brands, burned-out and quenched stumps of torches, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, with his whole great army, and of the son of Remaliah, as Pekah, king of Israel, is contemptuously called. All the enemies of God and of His Church are always helpless before His almighty power. V. 5. Because Syria, or Aram, with its confederates, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, the northern kingdom and its ruler, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, v. 6. Let us go up against Judah and vex it, throw it into consternation, fill it with terror, and let us make a breach therein for us, take the capital, and set a king In the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal, an unknown man, to be the vassal king of Judah, for such was the plan of the allies: v. 7. thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, they would not carry out their plan, neither shall it come to pass, since He Himself had decided to hinder it. V. 8. For the head of Syria, its capital and metropolis, is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim, the northern kingdom, which had relied upon Syria, be broken that it be not a people, that it would cease to exist as a nation. V. 9. And the head of Ephraim, its capital and stronghold, is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. The meaning of this somewhat enigmatic saying is evidently this, that both Syria and the kingdom of Israel would be confined to the territory now occupied by them, since their schemes of conquest would utterly fail. Moreover, Ephraim, the northern kingdom, was destroyed within the next sixty-five years, Shalmanezer of Assyria taking the majority of the people into exile in the year 722 B. C., and the downfall of the country being completed with the settling of colonists from Asia, about 675 B. C., 2 Kings 17,24; Ezra 4, 2. The prophet closes his encouraging message with the words, If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established, that is, if Judah, both its king and its people, would not firmly cling to God’s Word and promise, it would also cease to exist, it would be destroyed. This word has a general application: He who does not believe will not be able to stand before the judgment of God.
THE SON OF THE VIRGIN PROMISED. — V. 10. Moreover, the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, spake again unto Ahaz, who had not answered upon the consoling message of the Lord’s messenger, since he had already made arrangements to get the assistance of Assyria, saying, in an earnest endeavor to have him place his trust in the help of the Lord, v. 11. Ask thee a sign of the Lord, thy God, this offer to perform a miracle being intended to confirm the promise just made; ask It either in the depth, in the underworld, in hell, or in the height above, in heaven. The Lord permitted Ahaz to attach his faith to a condition named by himself, so that every excuse of unbelief would be taken from him. V. 12. But Ahaz, in wicked unbelief and disgusting hypocrisy, said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. Having already decided upon enlisting Assyria’s help, he rejected the offer of Jehovah with a hypocritical pretext. This was the very climax of obduration. When unbelief assumes the garments of piety, the effect is much more loathsome than open blasphemy and mockery. V. 13. And he, Isaiah, through whom the Lord was addressing the apostate king, said, Hear ye now, O house of David, not only the present monarch being addressed, but all his followers as well: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, making the prophet, who had labored so long and faithfully in trying to win him for the truth, both disgusted and weary, but will ye weary my God also? so that He also becomes filled with weariness and turns from the reprobate people in disgust and delivers them into the destruction they so deliberately sought. V. 14. Therefore the Lord Himself, in a significant revelation of His almighty power, shall give you a sign, cause a miracle to happen which would have abiding significance. Behold, an exclamation calling attention to the extraordinary prophecy now following, a virgin, literally, “the virgin,” that certain virgin whom the Lord had even now selected for this purpose, not merely an unwed woman of marriageable age, but an undefiled maiden, Ps. 68, 25; Matt. 1, 25, shall conceive, without the carnal knowledge of man, and bear a son, the event being represented as happening now, in the everlasting present of the eternal God, and shall call His name Immanuel, which is correctly interpreted by Matthew as meaning, “God with us.” This name characterizes the person, the essence, and the work of the Messiah. The son of the virgin, conceived and born a true human being, yet without sin, is at the same time true, almighty, eternal God. It is the great mystery of godliness: God manifest in the flesh, the true Savior, Protector, and Helper of all men. V. 15. Butter, the thick curdled milk, which is a favorite in the Orient, and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good, such would be His food beginning with the age of discretion and throughout His life, partaking, as a true human being, of the food of a desolate country. V. 16. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, before He would reach the age of adolescence, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings, rather, “desolate will be the land, of the face of whose two kings thou hast a horror,” the judgment of the Lord having been carried out upon it. The time of this event is more exactly fixed in the next verses. V. 17. The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah, when the northern tribes seceded after the death of Solomon; even the king of Assyria, this kingdom being here introduced as the representative of the great world powers which finally overthrew Judah. The disintegration began at that time and continued for centuries. V. 18. And it shall come to pass in that day, at the time when He would send His judgment upon Judah, that the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, the various canals of the Nile, and for the bee that Is in the land of Assyria, calling them to come and do His bidding, for these insects are evidently types of the armies of the heathen nations which subjugated Judah. V. 19. And they shall come and shall rest, all of them, in the desolate valleys, rather, in the valleys of the declivities, and in the holes of the rocks, in the clefts of the mountains, and upon all thorns and upon all bushes, in all the rich meadow-lands, with the object of devouring and destroying everything in sight. V. 20. In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, through an army which He placed in His service, to carry out His will, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard, the land being depopulated and the entire body of the nation destroyed by the heathen power summoned by the Lord. V. 21. And it shall come to pass in that day that a man shall nourish a young cow and two sheep, glad to have kept these animals, a small remnant of the herds which he formerly possessed; the land no longer being cultivated, the people took their recourse to stock-raising and dairying; v. 22. and it shall come to pass for the abundance of milk that they, the few animals left him, shall give he shall eat butter; for butter and honey, which was abundant in the wild state, shall every one eat that is left in the land, for that was the food of a land which had practically been turned into a wilderness by the enemies. V. 23. And it shall come to pass in that day, at the time when Jehovah’s judgment would be carried out, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, valued at about 64 cents apiece, it shall even be for briers and thorns, which would overrun the former rich vineyards. V. 24. With arrows and with bows shall men come thither, to hunt wild beasts in the former orchards, because all the land shall become briers and thorns. V. 25. And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, which ordinarily were hoed and cultivated, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns, that is, no one will venture there for fear of not being able to cope with the thorns; but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, who would make the devastated lands their playground, and for the treading of lesser cattle. Thus the history of Judah and Jerusalem, till the coming of the promised Messiah, is sketched in a few bold lines. At that time the former glory of Judah had departed, and the proud nation had become subject to a heathen world power. Christ Himself, although the eternal Son of God, was born into the lowliness of this bondage. He is, to this day, with the Gospel proclaimed by His messengers, a savor of life unto life to those who accept Him, but a savor of death unto death to those who reject Him.