He is considered one of the greatest men of God from the olden days. He was a counselor to kings and a writer whose O.T. book is quoted more often in the N.T. than any other except the book of Psalms. When Jesus preached His first sermon, He preached out of a passage from this man’s writings. His calling from God is one of the most beautiful pictures in Scripture. “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.” (Is. 6:1-4). This man would be inspired to say things about the Lord so incredible that it boggles our mind. His name is Isaiah. He is a prophet.
We’re going to look at Isaiah 7:10-17 today. I hope you have your Bible and can turn there too. You can listen to the accompanying podcast here.
You’ve heard the saying desperate times call for desperate measures? This passage comes just after Isaiah answers the call of God in 6:1-4. Isaiah finds himself right in the middle of some pretty intense political action. Isaiah 7:1-2 sets the stage for us. Check it out. At some point in our lives, every one of us will face desperate times. All kinds of circumstances can occur that may bring us to the edge of despair where we see few options are and time is running out. In this passage I want you so see some things that put Ahaz, the King of Judah, on the edge of despair. Ahaz was an unstable man. He had a godly father and grandfather, but he did not follow in their footsteps. Having godly relatives is no guarantee of godly children. Unless a child personally chooses to enter into a biblical relationship with God through Christ, he will leave that home one day without the tools necessary to face the world. I don’t know everything about Ahaz, but this much is clear. His life can be summed up as recorded in 2 Kings 16:2, “Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the LORD his God, as his father David had done.” It’s not that he is in a “wilderness” period as some would say or that he was “lukewarm.”
Ahaz is probably in his early twenties and he faces a very serious national crisis and he doesn’t possess the spiritual resources necessary to effectively handle it. To make a really long story short, Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel joined forces to invade the southern kingdom of Judah. Against the guidance of God’s prophets, Israel formed an alliance with Syria in an effort to defend against what they knew was coming from the war machine of Assyria. Assyria had this habit of invading and conquering surrounding countries and taking the people prisoner. The goal was to invade Judah and get rid of King Ahaz. Verse 2 tells us “His heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind.”
So what’s a king to do? Well, Ahaz was foolish. 2 Kings 17 indicate that Ahaz is going to try and form his own alliance independent of Syria and Israel only his alliance won’t be against Assyria, it would be with Assyria. He’s thinking, “If I pay tribute to Assyria, I’ll be okay. Oh and Judah too.” Not a smart move. So it is with this information that we find the prophet Isaiah called to go talk to King Ahaz in v. 3. Look at vs. 3-9.
The actual reality is that God always comes through. How many times has God used seemingly incidental things to remind us that He is right there? He is involved in our lives even if we can’t see exactly what He is doing. Here is Ahaz looking over the water supply lines of Judah. Isaiah and his son Shear-jashub walk up to Ahaz. Remember Hebrew names carried a lot of significance. Isaiah means Jehovah has saved. Shear-jashub means a remnant shall return. Standing right in front of Ahaz are reminders of who God is and that He will preserve His people. Remember that Ahaz’s father and grandfather were godly men.
God is always bigger than your fear. In the face of certain defeat, look at what God says through Isaiah in v. 4, “Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted.” God is saying don’t look for a way out, but look for a way through your difficult situation. 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Do you believe that no situation is too hard for God? For Ahaz, God was trying to show him that his trust must be placed in the One that can handle the problem. V. 9 says, “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” Faith, that strong conviction in what you cannot see often stands in the way of God accomplishing what He will. If you do not stand firm, you will fall. God was trying to get Ahaz to believe. To walk by faith, not by sight. To be a follower of God first, then a King.
Finally, look at the miracle God provided. It is at this moment that something incredible takes place. Vs. 10-11 tell us what happened. Isaiah was there to speak to the king on behalf of God and Ahaz doesn’t listen, all he can see is the Assyrian army. Ask whatever you want – no limit. Ahaz tells Isaiah,“I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD.” Now Ahaz gets all religious on Isaiah. I suppose he is forgetting about his past. His idolatry, his human sacrifices (including those of his children), how he worshipped at the asheroth pole, oh yea, and he was a Baal worshipper. The real deal is that Ahaz had already made up his mind and nothing Isaiah said or did would convince him to trust God.
Here is the moment set apart for Isaiah. He turns from the king and begins to speak to the crowd that had gathered. Vs. 13-14 record what Isaiah says. It is God that gives the sign. He doesn’t send an angel or a prophet – God Himself sees to it. So what is the meaning of the sign? This sign is meant to get our attention. V. 13 starts with “Listen now.” Pay attention to what is coming. This sign proves that God can do whatever He wants to do. Sign means a signal or a distinguishing mark. It is something that is obvious, something that will stand out. This sign involves the birth of a son after an impossible pregnancy. A virgin will conceive. Isaiah tells everyone that at some point a woman will conceive a child that simply cannot be explained. When you see that, that is God’s handiwork. This sign means that God is coming in the flesh. His name is Immanuel meaning God with us. God will be with us in the flesh. He will dwell among us. We will see and experience His glory.
700 hundred years later, that sign was realized. A young woman named Mary was engaged to a guy named Joseph. An angel appeared and told her what to expect. Luke 1:31 records the words of the prophet, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”
If God can cause a woman to conceive in a miraculous manner, why do you doubt that He can take care of you?