“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 Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz 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 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 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 are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’ ”
One of the most significant and familiar Messianic Prophecies contained in Scripture, and quoted each Advent Season, is Isaiah 7:14. It says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” But do you know to whom Isaiah is speaking? What were the circumstances which prompted God to speak through the prophet in such a manner and with such a wonderful promise? What is meant by the words sign, virgin, conceive and Immanuel? For the next couple of days, we will seek to provide the biblical answers to these questions.
To begin with, what was the historical context that preceded the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14? The answer is found in Isaiah 7:1-2. “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 Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”
The time frame for this narrative is 735 B.C. However, the seeds for this conflict between the Nation of Judah with Israel and Syria took place approximately 200 years before.
In 931 B.C., King Solomon died (2 Chronicles 9:29-30). In the immediate aftermath of his death, many people of Israel revolved against Solomon’s successor, his son Rehoboam. Ten of the nation’s 12 tribes appointed Jeroboam their king and became concentrated in the northern portion of the land. These ten tribes became known as Israel. The two remaining tribes (Judah & Benjamin) remained in the southern portion of the land. They became known as Judah (2 Chronicles 10).
Both Israel and Judah had their own kings who succeed Jeroboam and Rehoboam respectively. While the southern kingdom of Judah had a mixture of good and bad kings, the northern kingdom of Israel did not have a good king in the lot. All of them were evil, resulting in God’s destruction of Israel in 722 B.C. by the Assyrians. The LORD’s prophets in the northern kingdom included Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Hosea, Jonah and Micah.
Upon hearing the news that both Israel and Syria were planning to attack Jerusalem, King Ahaz was understandably concerned, troubled and fearful. The LORD’s message by Isaiah to King Ahaz was one of assurance. The two invading kings would not prevail.
More to come from Isaiah 7:1-9, but how comforting it is to know that the LORD continues to provide assurance to His people through His precious promises. What the LORD asks of His people is that they would trust Him. May we do so.
Soli deo Gloria!