Rev. David Boisclair, pastor of Faith and Bethesda Lutheran Churches in North St. Louis County, Missouri, joins host Rev. AJ Espinosa to study Isaiah 7.
“A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Many of us have heard these words from Isaiah 7 around Christmas time, but what was going on when they were first spoken? Isaiah confronts the faithless king Ahaz with this prophecy, a mixture of blessing and curse. On the one hand, Judah’s enemies of Ephraim and Syria will be destroyed. On the other hand, the one destroying them is also going to destroy most of Judah.
The name Emmanuel means “God is with us” or “God is in our midst.” As we saw in the previous chapter, being in the presence of God is a fearful thing, because it means a reckoning for human sin. Ahaz wanted nothing to do with “Emmanuel,” and yet within a few short years Isaiah’s prophecy would come to pass. Yet the prophecy is also for us: when our Lord was born, it was in the midst of chaos. Judah was ruled by a puppet king and had been subjugated to the Romans. Jerusalem was on the verge of destruction yet again. And yet even with all that, God reveals His ultimate gracious presence that reckons with human sin through the forgiving and all-atoning sacrifice of His Son.
Thy Strong Word is a daily in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Rev. AJ Espinosa and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.
Isaiah Sent to King Ahaz
7 In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. 2 When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with[a] Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz[b] and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
3 And the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub[c] your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 4 And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. 5 Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, 6 “Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it[d] for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7 thus says the Lord God:
“‘It shall not stand,
and it shall not come to pass.
8 For the head of Syria is Damascus,
and the head of Damascus is Rezin.
And within sixty-five years
Ephraim will be shattered from being a people.
9 And the head of Ephraim is Samaria,
and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah.
If you[e] are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.’”
The Sign of Immanuel
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your[f] 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[g] said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.[h] 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 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 Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria!”
18 In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures.[i]
20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor that is hired beyond the River[j]—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will sweep away the beard also.
21 In that day a man will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, 22 and because of the abundance of milk that they give, he will eat curds, for everyone who is left in the land will eat curds and honey.
23 In that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels[k] of silver, will become briers and thorns. 24 With bow and arrows a man will come there, for all the land will be briers and thorns. 25 And as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not come there for fear of briers and thorns, but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread.
- Isaiah 7:2 Hebrew Syria has rested upon
- Isaiah 7:2 Hebrew his heart
- Isaiah 7:3 Shear-jashub means A remnant shall return
- Isaiah 7:6 Hebrew let us split it open
- Isaiah 7:9 The Hebrew for you is plural in verses 9, 13, 14
- Isaiah 7:11 The Hebrew for you and your is singular in verses 11, 16, 17
- Isaiah 7:13 That is, Isaiah
- Isaiah 7:14 Immanuel means God is with us
- Isaiah 7:19 Or watering holes, or brambles
- Isaiah 7:20 That is, the Euphrates
- Isaiah 7:23 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams