Isaiah 7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 21, 1999


This morning we look at the struggle that God had with a king named Ahaz. Over and over God showed mercy to Ahaz, yet Ahaz kept running from God.

:1-9 God’s promise of deliverance

:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz

Ahaz was king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He was not known as a "good" king.

(2 Chr 28:2-4) For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. {3} Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. {4} He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.

burnt his children – Josephus says that he "he offered his own son as a burnt-offering, according to the practices of the Canaanites." (pg.617)

:1 Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah … king of Israel

Syria – Syria is basically the same today as it was back then. It was the country immediately to the north and east of the land of Israel. It’s capital was Damascus, as it still is today. But this is not the same as the Assyrians, who were the major world dominating empire of the day. The Assyrians covered the land of modern Iraq.

Israel – Isaiah is living during the times of the "divided kingdom". The Northern Kingdom was known as "Israel" with it’s capital in Samaria. The Southern Kingdom was Judah, its capital was Jerusalem.

:1 went up toward Jerusalem … but could not prevail against it.

The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that they couldn’t take Jerusalem because the walls were too strong.

:2 And it was told the house of David

A reference to the king of the Southern Kingdom, Ahaz. All the kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah were descendants of King David.

:2 Syria is confederate with Ephraim.

Ephraim – the dominant tribe of the Northern Kingdom. Another name for Israel.

:2 his heart was moved… as the trees of the wood are moved …

They were terrified when they heard the news.

:3 the conduit of the upper pool

upper pool – a reservoir that held water from the Gihon Spring near Jerusalem. Ahaz was possibly there to inspect the city’s water supply in anticipation of future attacks.

:4 Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted

"Keep your eyes open, calm down, don’t be afraid, don’t be so weak"


Trust or fear.

This is God’s challenge to us when we’re facing difficult times. God was asking Ahaz to trust Him.


Green Bay Packers' head coach Mike Holmgren looks back at a heartbreaking moment, when he was cut from the New York Jets as backup quarterback to Joe Namath, that directed him to a bigger plan.

"I had committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was 11, but in my pursuit to make a name for myself in football, I left God next to my dust-covered Bible. But after getting cut from the Jets, I pulled out my Bible and found comfort in a verse I had memorized in Sunday school: 'Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths' (Proverbs 3:5-6).

"I asked Jesus Christ to take control again. My priorities in life are faith, family, and football--in that order." -- Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.

God promises us that as we grow to trust Him more, we will experience more and more of His peace.

(Isa 26:3 KJV) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China wrote, "Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into God's hand; and then, when we have given all to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about."

When we trust the Lord, does it mean that we then have to sit around and do nothing? If I’m out of work, do I sit on the sofa, watch TV, and wait for Ed McMahon to call me? Not at all. Look at some of the heroes of faith:

(Heb 11:6-7) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. {7} By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Noah prepared an ark. His faith in God made him move.

:4 for the two tails of these smoking firebrands

smoking firebrands – (NLT) "those two burned-out embers"

:6 set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:

Apparently Pekah and Rezin wanted to overthrow Ahaz and put their own puppet king in place, one who would go along with their rebellion against Assyria. We don’t know who the "son of Tabeal" is.

:7 It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

As things turned out, because Ahaz’ grandfather, Uzziah, had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem so well that they were able to hold off the joint attack of Syria and the Northern Kingdom. Josephus writes that the Syrians finally gave up trying to lay siege Jerusalem and instead conquered the city of Elath to the south and then packed up and went home to Damascus.

Just like God promised, they didn’t break into Jerusalem and they weren’t able to set their own king on the throne.


God’s undeserved kindness to us

It is not even because Ahaz was such a good king that the enemies’ plans didn’t succeed. It was simply because God wouldn’t let it.

God is being patient and merciful to Ahaz. He warned him through the prophet Isaiah and He would protect Jerusalem from the Syrian attack and He kept His word. God’s desire is always that His kindness toward us would provoke us to change.

(Rom 2:4 KJV) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

There are times when we are certainly deserving of everything that the judge can throw at us, but instead we get let off for some reason. Don’t think that because you’ve gotten off the hook that somehow God doesn’t care how you act. He is displaying kindness and patience to you and is giving you a chance to turn around.

:8 within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken

threescore and five years – sixty five years. The Assyrians had a practice of conquering a nation, then spreading the people among the rest of their conquered territories. The various conquered nations would then intermarry, lose their national identity, and also lose the ability of reuniting together and rebelling against Assyria. This event of Isaiah confronting Ahaz is taking place around 735 BC. The Northern Kingdom fell in 722 BC, and by 669 BC, 66 years later, the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (Ezr 4:10) repopulated the area with foreigners. These foreigners then intermarried with the few remaining Israelites left, and the result was the mixed race known as the Samaritans. The Israelites were in a sense "no longer a people".

:9 the head of Ephraim is Samaria … Remaliah's son

The Northern Kingdom’s (Ephraim) capital was Samaria. Pekah was the king in Samaria.

:9 If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

The choice is up to Ahaz. He can put his trust in the Lord and have his kingdom strengthened, or not. God would be merciful to Ahaz, but Ahaz chose NOT to trust the Lord. He suffered an enormous defeat at that time.

(2 Chr 28:5-8) Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. {6} For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers. {7} And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king's son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king. {8} And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria.

Yet even after Ahaz’ defeat, God was still showing mercy to His people, giving them just one more chance to turn their hearts to Him. The historian in Chronicles (2Chron. 28:9-15) goes on to record that a prophet living in the city of Samaria showed up and rebuked the army for taking the people of Judah captive. He warned them that they were on dangerous ground with God, and as a result, the people were clothed, fed, and taken to the city of Jericho, back in the land of Judah.

Over and over God had shown Ahaz kindness, yet for Ahaz, he would rather do ANYTHING other than turn away from his sins and trust in the Lord. It’s at this time, after having been so thoroughly defeated by the Northern Kingdom that Ahaz decides to ask the Assyrians for help (2Chr. 28:16).


When will you stop running from the Lord?

Ahaz never learned to stop running from the Lord. He continued to run from one thing to the next, anything but Jesus. Are you ready to stop running?

:10-16 The sign of a child

:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

temptnacahto test, try, put to the proof. This sounds like a good response from Ahaz. It even sounds kind of scriptural.

(Deu 6:16 KJV) Ye shall not tempt (nacah) the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

The problem is that it was God’s idea for Ahaz to give God a test. God wanted for Ahaz to not have any excuse to trust Him.

:14 Behold, a virgin shall conceive … shall call his name Immanuel

virgin‘almah – virgin, a young woman of marriageable age who was a virgin.

Immanuel = "God with us" or "with us is God"

Just who is this verse talking about? A child during Isaiah’s time or Jesus? Both.

1. It is speaking first as sign to Ahaz.

a. A woman who was at the time Isaiah was speaking still a virgin, would become pregnant and give birth. The child would be at least 12 years old (vs. 16, "know to refuse evil", the age of accountability, a boy’s "bar mitzvah") when the two enemies of Ahaz would be gone. The things in the chapter are being spoken around 735 BC. Syria was crushed by the Assyrians in 732 BC, and Israel was taken in 722 BC, thirteen years after this prophecy.

b. This child would be a sign that God would deliver His people from their enemies.

c. He would be a sign that God was with them.

2. But there is a secondary significance, which Matthew identifies at the birth of Jesus (Mat. 1:22-23).

a. With Jesus, His mother wouldn’t just be a virgin who got pregnant, but would still be a virgin even after she got pregnant! She became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

b. Jesus would also be a sign of God’s deliverance to His people. Jesus would be our deliverance. He would deliver us from our sins.

c. Jesus was Immanuel. He was literally God with us. He was the eternal God having taken on the form of human flesh.

:15 Butter and honey shall he eat

(Isa 7:15 NIV) He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.

He will be eating curds and honey at the time when he’s old enough to tell the difference between good and evil. This would be the age of 12, when a boy goes through his bar mitzvah, and is old enough to be accountable to God.

Butter and honey – This isn’t a good thing. As we’ll explain in a few verses, this is meaning that the farming has been wiped out and the people are living off of dairy products and wild honey. This means that the judgment will have happened.

:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil …

Both Pekah and Rezin would be dead within three years, long before this child would reach the age of accountability, about 12 years old.

:17-25 Coming calamity

:17 The LORD shall bring upon thee …even the king of Assyria

Ahaz would ask Assyria for help. Initially they helped him by defeating the two northern kings, but in the end, they only hurt him. They required a heavy tribute to be paid to them, and eventually marched on Jerusalem during the reign of Hezekiah to overthrow it.

:18 the LORD shall hiss for … Egypt … Assyria

Egypt and Assyria clashed in 701 B.C.

:20 shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired

a razor that is hired – a barber, referring to Assyria being used by God to give these people a "trim". It was not uncommon for a nation to shave the heads of their vanquished enemies. Having your head shaved was a sign of humiliation (Lev. 21:5; 2Sam. 10:4).

:21 a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep

Instead of having herds and flocks, people would only have a few animals.

:22 for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land

butter and honey – or, "curds and wild honey". Don’t confuse this with the abundance of a land "flowing with milk and honey". Here the idea is that there’s an abundance of milk products because there’s so few people left to eat. There’s an abundance of wild honey because the wild flowers have grown back over the farms.

:23 where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings

(Isa 7:23 NLT) In that day the lush vineyards, now worth as much as a thousand pieces of silver, will become patches of briers and thorns.

:24 With arrows and with bows shall men come thither

The land will be over run with wild animals. Instead of making a living by farming, people will have to survive by hunting.

:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.


Give God a chance.

One of Ahaz’ ancestors, King David, wrote this:

Psalms 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.


At the University of Chicago Divinity School each year they have what is called "Baptist Day". It is a day when all the Baptists in the area are invited to the school because they want the Baptist dollars to keep coming in. On this day each one is to bring a lunch to be eaten outdoors in a grassy picnic area. Every "Baptist Day" the school would invite one of the greatest minds to lecture in the theological education center. One year they invited Dr. Paul Tillich. Dr. Tillich spoke for two and one-half hours proving that the resurrection of Jesus was false. He quoted scholar after scholar and book after book. He concluded that since there was no such thing as the historical resurrection the religious tradition of the church was groundless, emotional mumbo-jumbo, because it was based on a relationship with a risen Jesus, who, in fact, never rose from the dead in any literal sense. He then asked if there were any questions.

After about 30 seconds, an old, dark skinned preacher with a head of short-cropped, woolly white hair stood up in the back of the auditorium. "Docta Tillich, I got one question," he said as all eyes turned toward him. He reached into his sack lunch and pulled out an apple and began eating it. "Docta Tillich ..." CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "My question is a simple question,"CRUNCH, MUNCH ..."Now I ain't never read them books you read" ... CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "and I can't recite the Scriptures in the original Greek" ...CRUNCH, MUNCH ... "I don't know nothin' about Niebuhr and Heidegger" ...CRUNCH, MUNCH ... He finished the apple. "All I wanna know is: This apple I just ate -- was it bitter or sweet?" Dr. Tillich paused for a moment and answered in exemplary scholarly fashion: "I cannot possibly answer that question, for I haven't tasted your apple." The white-haired preacher dropped the core of his apple into his crumpled paper bag, looked up at Dr. Tillich and said calmly, "Neither have you tasted my Jesus."

The 1,000 plus in attendance could not contain themselves. The auditorium erupted with applause and cheers. Dr. Tillich thanked his audience and promptly left the platform.

I don’t share this story to give you the impression that a belief in the Lord isn’t rational or that the garbage that the Tillichs and Neibuhrs dish out can’t be answered in understandable, thinking arguments.

But the point is this. Someone like this simply hasn’t tasted my Jesus. They’ve never really given Him a chance. Taste and see that the Lord is good.