Messianic Promise of Virgin Birth of Immanuel — Isaiah 7:10-16

Sometimes we look at our lives and things seem so random and meaningless.  What are we accomplishing?  Why are we here?  How did we even get to this point in the circumstances of our life?  Who is really in charge?  When will we see any progress in terms of the fulfillment of God’s promises for the future?  Where are we headed?

In this passage which looks like it spells the end for the Davidic dynasty – the successive reigns of the sons of David on the throne over the nation of Judah, God proclaims the fulfillment of His kingdom objectives.  God has a plan and He is working that plan.  He is in control and still fulfilling His gracious promises.  Ahaz may reject God’s grace and prove unfaithful, but God remains faithful to His covenant promises.

The key theme throughout the Book of Isaiah is Where Will We Turn for Help in Times of Trouble?  Where did you turn this past week?  Maybe you received some difficult news.  Maybe all is not right with your job situation, or your health, or your family relationships, or your finances, or your dreams for serving the Lord in what seems to you to be a significant role – Where do you turn for Help?  Maybe you have heard of others who are struggling.  How can you encourage them to turn to the Lord for help?

King Ahaz faced that question in his time of crisis and failed miserably.  But God’s gracious word of promise comes to us this morning.

GOD SOVEREIGNLY EXTENDS HIS GRACE IN THE FORM OF PRECIOUS MESSIANIC PROMISES THAT ENSURE THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS KINGDOM OBJECTIVES AND MEET OUR NEED IN TIMES OF TRIAL

I.   (:10-11)  THE OFFER OF GOD’S GRACE COMES BY WAY OF REVELATION

Nature of God’s Grace:

A.  (:10)  Undeserved

Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,

Why should God speak to wicked king Ahaz?

God owed nothing to Ahaz.

Ahaz had already committed to a political alliance with the king of Assyria to try to rescue him from the invasion of the King of Syria and the King of Israel – his trust was not in the God of the covenant.  2 Kings 16:7  “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser King of Assyria

God’s revelation comes to us as a gracious invitation for us to learn the mind of God; to see our true condition before God; to repent and trust in His provision for our deliverance.

What a sad state of affairs when God is silent and does not speak.

B.  (:11a)  Beneficial

Ask a sign for yourself

Van Parunak: Similarly, in ch. 38, Hezekiah asks for a sign (v. 22), and the Lord moves the shadow on the sundial backwards (v. 8).

Oswalt: In the Bible, signs may be miraculous, as in the deliverance from Egypt (Deut. 6:22) or the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:14), but they may also be a symbolic means whereby a prediction is made memorable.  In this way they provide a benchmark for the fulfillment to be recognized (Num. 16:38; Ezek. 12:6; Isa. 8:3, 4, 18; cf. 1 Sam. 2:34 and Luke 2:12, where no symbolism is involved, but where the evidential aspect is).  Delitzsch well says that “signs authenticate divine causality retrospectively or divine certainty prospectively.”

Here God is commanding Ahaz to pick out a sign that will be meaningful to him and helpful to him in confirming God’s Word

C.  (:11b)  Sovereign

from the LORD your God;

God can always keep His commitments.  What a comfort when directing our prayers and requests to Him.  What an encouragement when we study His gracious promises.

D.  (:11c)  Limitless, Spectacular, Striking

make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.

God’s grace always comes to us in ways that exceed our imagination or expectations.

Just look at the emphasis on the riches and abundance of God’s Grace in the book of Ephesians:

(first 3 chapters – doctrinal section)

Ephes. 1:3  We have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

Ephes. 1:7  “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

Ephes. 1:18-19  “so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe

Ephes. 2:4  Look at the infinite resources of God: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us

Ephes. 2:7  “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus

Ephes 3:8  ministry of Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles  “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ

Ephes. 3:20  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think

[Could have asked for anything – cf. TV commercial – gets to ask for one wish – removal of spare tire; many witches (wishes), etc.]

Our expectation should be that God intends to deliver a spectacular sign here; something that will confirm the truth of His Word and His promise that He has just made to Ahaz; remember the end of vs. 9 – you must stand fast in faith in order for things to go well for you

if you will not believe, you surely shall not last

Remember that crisis that Ahaz was facing

II.  (:12-13)  THE REJECTION OF GOD’S GRACE TESTS GOD’S PATIENCE (BUT NEVER FRUSTRATES HIS PURPOSES)

A.  (:12)  Smokescreen of Excuses and Rationalizations

But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!’

Sounds pious; trying to appeal to Scripture about the folly of testing God; feared finding out that the Lord would stand by His word; had his own agenda and did not want to submit to the control of God

Van Parunak: His refusal is phrased in pious terms. He refuses to “tempt the Lord.” The phrase is meant to recall Israel’s experience in the wilderness (Exod 17:2), when they demanded that Moses give them water. . .  Deut 6:16Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

Trying to hide a heart of rebellion and lack of faith

Disobeying a direct command from God

Remember Paul’s address to the philosophers at Athens – they loved to debate various theories – but Paul presses upon them their accountability before God:

Acts 17:30-31  “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus are commanded; not an option to just consider among many

B.  (:13)  Slap in the Face of God’s Grace and Patience

Then he said, ‘Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?’

Isaiah the prophet is the one speaking here;  Ahaz has wearied the prophet as well as the Lord;

Turns attention away from Ahaz to the house of David – the sign will be given to them;

Van Parunak: Now Isaiah, instead of addressing Ahaz as the house of David, addresses himself more widely. He bypasses the head, as though he were already irrelevant.

Do not presume against the patience of God

Rom. 2:4-5  “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart [perfect description of King Ahaz] you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”

Application: How do we respond to God’s grace in ways that are really a slap in the face of His grace and patience?

–          I can’t change the way I am … I am not really a new creature in Christ … just a poorly reformed old creature

–          God doesn’t expect me to be perfect; as long as I try to obey Him in the big things, He will look the other way on my pet minor transgressions

–          When I face pressure, I immediately assume that God has forsaken me or forgotten about me and I scramble around to see where I can find help and relief

We must persevere in faith when under trial and ask God for wisdom – James 1; run to God and cling to Him rather than run away and look elsewhere

III.  (:14-16)  THE SOVEREIGN EXTENSION OF GOD’S GRACE CENTERS ON MESSIANIC FULFILLMENT OF KINGDOM OBJECTIVES

A.  (:14a)  Sovereign Sign

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:

We should expect something pretty dramatic and miraculous

Beall:  stressing the sovereign power of God, not the covenantal relationship

B.  (:14b)  Virgin Birth

Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son,

Really definite article – “the virgin

Not much of a spectacular sign if just an ordinary woman gives birth through ordinary means;

Matt. 1:18-23 makes plain that this is a reference to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ

Who is in view as the fulfillment of this prophecy?

1) Certainly could not be Isaiah’s second child spoken of in chap. 8; he already had a son and that second child was not named Immanuel . . .

2) Certainly could not be a reference to a son of Ahaz = Hezekiah – he was already born a few years earlier

3) Certainly could not be a more general reference to just children being born in general with some type of application of God being with the nation in showing His favor in a general sense

4) Must be something spectacular and striking and significant given the buildup here; could not be just a normal birth

5) Matt. 1:23 makes plain that the reference is to the virgin birth of Christ; the use of the definite article; the language of almah allows for this interpretation as does the interpretation of the LXX

6)  Beall: speaks of a pregnant virgin (not a virgin who will become pregnant, but one who already is pregnant): this is an impossibility apart from the miraculous working of God. Hence, Isa 7:14 speaks only of Christ’s birth.  [not some type of double fulfillment – because there is no immediate birth that really fits the mold well enough to serve as a type of the ultimate fulfillment]

7) The name Immanuel can only be a reference to Christ

What then do we make of vs. 16 which seems to have immediate historical reference to the crisis facing Ahaz?  How could something that happened centuries later have any significance for Ahaz?  Save that answer for a little later in the message

[Significance of male son vs female daughter;  look at Bible translations that try to do away with gender distinctions]

C.  (:14c)  Incarnation of the God-Man – “God with Us

and she will call His name Immanuel.

Amazing in light of Isaiah’s vision in Chap. 6 where he was overwhelmed by the great gulf between God’s infinite and majestic holiness and man’s sin and bankruptcy

John 1Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Van Parunak: We should first recognize that while “Jesus” and “Immanuel” are distinct names, their meaning overlaps. Immanuel emphasizes God’s presence with his people, while Jesus (Joshua, “Jehovah is salvation”) emphasizes his function. He cannot save his people if he is not with them, and his presence with them would be terrifying if he did not come to save. The two are intertwined.

Motyer: In 8:8 we read your land, O Immanuel.  Nowhere else does the Old Testament exemplify “land” with a possessive pronoun accompanied by the subject of the pronoun in the vocative.  Furthermore, the singular possessive is linked with “land” as a political unit only in the case of kings (e.g. Dt. 2:31; 2 Sa. 24:13), Israel personified or some other personification (e.g. Je. 2:15; Ho. 10:1), or of the Lord (e.g. 1 Ki. 8:36; Ezk. 36:5).  Immanuel cannot be simply any child whatever.  Also, how could any “ordinary” child become the ground of security of the Lord’s people against the onset of the nations (8:10)?  Finally, it is impossible to separate this Immanuel from the Davidic king whose birth delivers his people and whose complex name includes the designation Mighty God.

D.  (:15-16)  Immediate Intervention and Judgment

He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.  For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

Don’t fear Syria and Israel – God is bringing swift judgment upon them

Van Parunak: As 7:21, 22 show, this is a desert diet, resorted to by migrant people like the Bedouin, those who cannot grow crops. A cow or goat can eat all sorts of rough vegetation and turn it into milk from which one can make thickened milk (yogurt), and honey is gathered from wild bees. These are choice foods indeed. Abraham, who lived in tents, served it to his heavenly guests (Gen 18:8). But for a people accustomed to live in villages and farm the fields, they are usually supplements to other food (1 Sam 17:17, 18; 2 Sam 17:28-29). . .

Grain, wine, and oil (Deut 7:13), not butter and honey, are the marks of a peaceful society. The time before the destruction of Syria and Ephraim will not be one of abundance for Judah, but one of impoverishment, when their settled way of life is disrupted and they are forced into a migratory lifestyle, living off of the land.

The reference of the prophecy in our Lord’s life would be to the migration of the holy family to Egypt to escape Herod. Their settled life was disrupted, and they had to live on the road.

Brian Vos: When did Jesus eat curds and honey?  Those who are left in the land after the exile experience a deprived existence under the curse; Jesus will sit in this land with his people and enter into their state of deprivation; Did Jesus have to learn to refuse the evil and choose the good; Heb. 5:7-8; He learned obedience through suffering; not that he was imperfect in any way; but He perfected His work in suffering; What Adam failed to do in Paradise and what Israel failed to do in the Promised Land (when they had everything going for them), Christ obeyed even as He was being made a curse for us and had nothing going for Him; rendered to God that perfect obedience; brought Ahaz a message for his present circumstances;

What are we to make of vs. 16 – seems that the Immanuel child will be a contemporary of Ahaz; the point is rather that the infancy of the Messiah is made the measure of time that will pertain to the resolution of Ahaz’s situation; only a few years at most and those kings which you so dread will be wiped off the face of the earth; reference to resolution of present trials; also speaks of the future in vs. 17ff; Ahaz may endure the present trial but there is a judgment that is coming that will prove his undoing; the very one in whom he put his trust will become the agent of his destruction

CONCLUSION:

Where do you turn in hard times?  Immanuel – God with us – always – and especially in our trials and difficulties; He is sufficient and all powerful; The riches of His grace surpass our expectations and fulfill His kingdom objectives

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