In our study of Isaiah chapter seven, we look at God's promise to preserve a portion of His people. In this chapter, we see a beautiful prophecy and picture of the coming of the Lord Jesus.
When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.
The chapter opens with a civil war that is happening between God's people. We see that not only did Syria (Aram) attack Jerusalem but the northern kingdom of God's people (Israel) had tried to take the city but failed. We are also told that this happened during the reign of Ahaz in Jerusalem. Although his father, Jotham, had been a good king, Ahaz turned away from the ways of God and was a very bad king.
Now the house of David was told, 'Aram has allied itself with Ephraim'; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
Now, the king is informed that the two (Syria & Israel) have joined together to attack the city. We are told that the king and the people were afraid as they had withstood the individual attacks but now they faced a combined attack. Since Ahaz had turned away from God in disobedience, he did not expect God to bless them and to fight for them.
Then the Lord said to Isaiah, 'Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field.'
Even though Ahaz did not deserve it, God sent Isaiah to him to bring him encouragement. It is interesting to note that God told Isaiah to take his son with him and that his son's name means "a remnant will return". The place God told him to meet Ahaz is significant as well. The aqueduct brought water into the city from the Upper Pool. The word upper comes from two words "most" and "high" and pool comes from the word "blessing". This was a picture of the coming blessing from God Most High which is Jesus Christ. The Word of God is described throughout the Bible as water and Jesus is described as the Word in the opening of the book of John. We are also told that this was on the way to the Washerman's Field which is where the people did their laundry. This is a beautiful picture of the fact that Jesus cleans us from our sins. We, too, can be encouraged by the fact that our salvation (cleaning) does not depend on us but is freely flowing just as the water flowed into Jerusalem.
'Say to him, "Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood - because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah."'
The Lord not only told Isaiah and his son where to go but gave him the exact words to share with the king. God reassures the king by describing those that are coming against His city as "smoldering stubs of firewood". That should be encouraging as something that is smoldering is on the way to dying and God is simply telling the king to trust in Him. Through this time of trial, God presents King Ahaz with a simple choice of faith or fear. Trials are a normal part of the Christian life but they always present the same choice. Will you walk in faith or fear? Do you have a story to share of a time when you had to make this choice? Just as God sent Isaiah to encourage the king, your story could help someone else to stand strong in the face of trials.
'Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it."'
God is continuing to give Isaiah the words to share with the king of Judah. God is not surprised by these enemies and their plans as He knows everything and demonstrates that knowledge by explaining their plan in detail. He also knows about the plans of the enemies in our lives and, if we have made that choice of faith over fear, we can be at peace.
Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'It will not take place, it will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah's son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.'
The Lord gives Isaiah the words to encourage Ahaz in the face of this trial. The plans that the enemies have made will not happen because they are the plans of men. He also warns Ahaz that he must either stand in his faith or fall completely. This can be a reminder to us that we, too, must trust completely in God especially in the difficult times. This is a normal part of our growth as Christians as we see through the study in Nehemiah 3 and the meaning of the valley gate.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 'Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.'
Not only did God give Ahaz words of encouragement but He also gave Ahaz permission to ask Him for a sign to prove it was true. We are reminded that God is in control of everything as He tells Ahaz that the sign can be from the depths or the heights and it didn't matter. There are those that say asking for a sign from God demonstrates a lack of faith but there are many examples throughout His Word of great men of faith asking for a sign. God gives each of us signs in our daily walk with Him. Many are not looking for them and so do not recognize the hand of God.
But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.'
Ahaz's reply to God is a "religious" answer from a phony. Although his answer is based on a passage from scripture (Deuteronomy 6:16), the man has turned his back on God and is doing all kinds of things that the Lord does not like. God does not want us to pick and choose the parts of His Word that we like and ignore the rest.
Then Isaiah said, 'Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also?'
After the phony religious answer of Ahaz, Isaiah reminds him that he is dealing with God. God knows the heart of all of us and He is patient but He is still the Almighty God.
'Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
The sign that Isaiah prophesied was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, as described in Matthew 1:18-25. This was a sign that could not be explained in any way except by the very hand of God.
He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.
This verse speaks to the fact that Jesus would be a normal man in that he started as a baby. The baby would have nursed from his mother until the time to eat solid food and Jesus did the same. It , too, reminds us that as new children in Christ, we are not to live forever on milk but are to grow to feed on solid food. This was also talked about in Hebrews 5:11-14.
'But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.'
Isaiah continues by telling Ahaz that the kings that are coming against Jerusalem will fail. This was prophesied to occur before Jesus was old enough to choose right and it did happen.
'The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah - he will bring the king of Assyria.'
Isaiah now turns to the coming judgment on Ahaz and the people. He tells of the coming invasion of the Assyrians and the fall of Jerusalem.
In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes.
God is bringing judgment on His people and we see that He is going to use the nations around them. Flies are a bother but bees actually cause pain and so Egypt will be a nuisance but the actual pain will be from the Assyrians. The use of insects to describe this coming judgment reminded them (and us) of the plagues that God brought on Egypt to get them to let His people go (see Exodus chapters 7 through 10). God is telling them that these nations will overtake them and be everywhere in their land.
In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River - the king of Assyria - to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also.
The river that is spoken of is the Euphrates River which runs through the modern country of Iraq. The Assyrians were feared and they were known for their brutality toward their enemies. The shaving of the head and beards was a means of humiliating a defeated enemy.
In that day, a man will keep alive a young cow and two goats. And because of the abundance of milk they give, he will have curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey.
When God brings judgement from the king of Assyria, He says that the people that are left will eat curds and honey. Curds are things that form as milk sours and honey is a symbol of delight throughout the Bible. The people are going to eat these curds (soured milk) and be very happy to have them. They will go from the abundance of God's provision to being happy with soured milk.
In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns.
The vineyards will be overgrown with briers when God brings this judgement on Israel. Their riches will be removed.
Men will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and sheep run.
Isaiah completes the description of the land after God removes His blessing from Israel. The people that are left will have to hunt instead of growing food.