Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.
This prophetic word from Isaiah is probably familiar to most of us. It is often associated with the miraculous conception of Jesus … through the power of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, a young virgin maiden, as recorded in Luke 1:26-38. Indeed, its fulfillment was accomplished through the birth of our Lord Jesus. Let’s take a deeper look at the prophetic passage and its context:
Isaiah 7:10-17 (NIV)
1 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. 2 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.3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub (whose name means a remnant will return) to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. 4 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. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘It will not take place, it will not happen, 8 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. 9 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.’”
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 Isaiah 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 (which means God with us). 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!”
So, we see that King Ahaz, a king of Judah, was in a defensive battle against Pekah, the king of Israel, and Rezin the king of Syria, who had joined forces to lay siege to Jerusalem. The issue for King Ahaz was his lack of faith … his failure to trust God and His Word. Oh, how that resembles many of us in times of crisis and uncertainly … when we are feeling distress from our situations and circumstances. I find it interesting that the Lord even prompted Ahaz to ask Him for a “sign” … for a “confirmation” of His Word. But Ahaz refused to ask … and so the Lord decided to give Ahaz His own sign of assurance. Thus, we have received this everlasting word from God: “He is with us!”
Through the Prophet Isaiah, the Lord told Ahaz to keep calm and not to fear. The Lord promised him the plans Aram, Rezin, and Pekah would not succeed. The Lord admonished him: If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’” But we learn from 2 Kings 16 that Ahaz did not believe the Lord, heed His Word, or follow His instruction; rather, Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria.The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death. (Cf. 2 Kings 16:7-9) Even worse, Ahaz went on to desecrate the temple with an altar like the one used to sacrifice to idols in Damascus. Unlike King David, Ahaz did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites.
Why is this story important? Why is this prophecy of the sign God provided … a virgin giving birth to a son who would be “God with us” so crucial to our faith? For me, King Ahaz provides a solemn reminder of how our lack of trust in God and His Word leads to serious consequences. He tells us not to fear. God tells us to believe Him. He assures us, “I AM with you.” And it is clear that if we do not stand firm with Him in faith, we will not stand at all. Yes, there are consequences for disobedience. It will lead us into deception and darkness … it will lead to separation from God.
When we see Jesus as the fulfillment of Immanuel – God with us, then we will understand why the Apostle John wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Cf. John 1:1, 14) Likewise, the inspired writer penned: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being….” (Cf. Hebrews 1:3) And Jesus affirmed, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Cf. John 14:9) So here are some assurances we have from the Scriptures regarding the presence of God in our lives:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Whoever you are reading this today, the Father wants you to know – He is with you! He is for you! God has demonstrated His love for you in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) Indeed, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (Cf. 1 John 4:10) My friend, this is your sign! This is the day of salvation! If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. Do not be like King Ahaz and turn from God and His Word to you; rather, embrace it … embrace Him … embrace the truth that He will never leave you nor forsake you. And, “If God is for you, who can be against you? (Cf. Romans 8:31)