10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria!” (Isaiah 7:10-17)
Have you ever asked the LORD for a sign? Perhaps it was to affirm a particular decision which you faced or a particular path you should follow. The LORD told King Ahaz to “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
What was King Ahaz’s response to the LORD’s request that he ask for a sign? “12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Ironically, by refusing the LORD’s request to ask for a sign by saying he would not put the LORD to the test, Ahaz was pretending to be humble and in effect was putting the LORD to the test.
The LORD said, 13 “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?” Isaiah’s response to the king was one of rebuke on the LORD’s behalf. The prophet not only took King Ahaz to task for his behavior but also the entire nation of wearying, or trying the patience, of God.
In light of King Ahaz’s refusal to ask the LORD for a sign of encouragement, the LORD decided to give the king, and the nation, His own sign. In effect, the LORD said, “You do not want a sign. Well, I’m going to give you a sign whether you want it or not.” What a sign it turned out to be. 14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”
The word “behold” means to call attention to a detail, hear, and emphasize and idea. The word “virgin” can mean a sexually mature female of marriageable age, who may or may not be sexually active (Genesis 24:43; Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:26; Proverbs 30:19; Song of Songs 1:3; 6:8). The context will demand or suggest if the young woman is sexually active.
The corresponding New Testament texts are not only found in Matthew 1:18-25, in which Isaiah 7:14 is quoted in vs. 23, but also in Luke 1:26-38, in which Mary asks the question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Both New Testament texts assert the meaning of virgin to be an unmarried woman who has not engaged in any sexual activity.
The phrase “shall conceive” means to become pregnant. The child who is born will be a boy, a son. His name will be Immanuel, which means the LORD is with us in whom we may have confidence.
John Calvin writes, “Immanuel. This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed himself with our flesh and united himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us, which cannot apply to a man who is not God. It is therefore evident that it denotes not only the power of god, such as he usually displays by His servant, but a union of person which Christ became God-man.”
What will the Messiah be like? What does the text from Isaiah 7 say about Immanuel? This is what we will explore next time.
Soli deo Gloria!