The seventh chapter of the book of Isaiah, breathed out by God Himself through man, points us to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. This chapter begins more like a narrative than a prophecy because it provides the historical background and context of the prophecy that Isaiah will give to Ahaz, the king of Judah. Isaiah gives a prophecy to Ahaz of a child named Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” In the rest of chapter 7 and into chapter 8, Isaiah prophecies of judgement to come upon Judah, Damascus, and Samaria. Chapter 9 prophecies of the coming Messiah again then speaks on the coming judgement on Samaria and Assyria.
There is some historical context in this passage that we must discuss first before analyzing the text on Christ, though. Ahaz became king after Jotham around 735 BC. He was known as a king who walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, the rebellious, sinful kings. He also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places which violated the written law of God (2 Chr. 28:2-4), and he also promoted idolatry (2 Kg. 16:10-20).
During the time of Ahaz’ reign in Judah, Rezin ruled Syria and Pekah ruled Israel. Both Rezin and Pekah sought to wage war against Assyria, who was a rising power, and requested for Ahaz to join them in war (2 Kg. 16:5-18; 2 Chr. 28:16-21). Ahaz refused so they “waged war” (Is. 7:2) against Jerusalem. Later on, Ahaz actually joined forces with Assyria. Isaiah, one of the current prophets, meets up with Ahaz, as commanded by the LORD, to share with him the Word of the LORD. God gives Ahaz this Word through Isaiah to encourage and assure him of the security of his throne by reminding him of His covenant established and made with David (2 Sam. 7:12-16).
These three chapters are saturated with the themes “redemption,” “faith,” and “covenant.” These themes, even in their historical setting, encourage and give hope to the “few survivors” (Is. 1:9) as they remember the promise of redemption by God to Abraham (Gen. 12:3). Even before Isaiah prophesies, we learn that his son’s name is Shear-jashub, meaning “a remnant shall return,” (Is. 10:20-22) and that he takes his son with him to meet Ahaz. His son represents God’s promise to His people of salvation and life, for those faithful ones, and that although Judah will suffer and burn, the remnant will remain (Is. 6:13). Isaiah is basically telling him here: “God made a promise and He intends to keep it.”
The LORD gives a reminder to Ahaz to be firm in his faith in Yahweh and His promise (Is. 7:9). It is not enough to simply believe in the existence of God, as Ahaz believes, I’m sure, but he must trust wholly in Yahweh to keep His promise of life in his royal lineage, and that God will protect him. This threat serves as an opportunity for Ahaz to be firm in his faith and to ask of God for help and a sign of assurance that his throne is secure (Is. 7:12). Although, Ahaz doubts and does what is right in his own eyes (7:13).
These chapters found in Isaiah impacted the 8th century BC Israelites, the Christians that read the Gospel according to Matthew in the 1st century AD, and all of the church of God up to today. Isaiah’s prophecy of a coming king who will reign eternally was a sign of hope to those who trusted the promise of God’s covenant that was revealed to them in mercy and grace. To Matthew’s immediate readers, these chapters in Isaiah assured the New Testament church that Jesus truly was who He said He was, and that He is the fulfillment of these prophecies. To us today, we find rest for our souls in the One true King who now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
We know that when we read “she will call His name Immanuel,” (Is. 7:14), and “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” (Is. 9:6) we are assured in our faith, that it is not in vain because God’s promise to bring salvation to all nations through Abraham came true in Christ. The promised Covenant of Grace, the New Covenant, was fully established and instituted in Jesus Christ (Mt. 5:17-18; Jn. 5:39, 46; 2 Cor. 1:20; Rm. 10:4). The faithfulness of God drives us to worship and praise all that He is for His glory alone.
Now in relation to the messianic references in these chapters in Isaiah, it is clear, as we have discussed, that there are many prophecies within this text which point to and/or foreshadow a coming messiah (7:14-16; 8:8; 9:6-7). The first one tells of one who will be born of a virgin, eat curds and honey, and know equally right and wrong (7:14-15). This prophecy is very specific with detailed description, yet without a time frame like most prophecies.
At the time it was written it was possible that this prophecy could have been intended to be fulfilled at that time or in the next generation, as some critics speculate, but as has been revealed to the church through the gospels according to Matthew and Luke, this prophecy was intended by God, the Divine author, to foretell of Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31, 34). Some 8th century BC readers may have interpreted Isaiah 7 to be in reference to a salvation by God, or more temporal blessings like recent past blessings, in their lifetime, rather than in reference to the coming Messiah in the farther future. Whatever the case, Scripture has interpreted Scripture (the NT has interpreted the OT), thus, further revealing its origin from the One Divine mind and what God intended, not merely Isaiah, and that chapter 7 is indeed prophesying of Jesus Christ.
How does this apply to us today? We are the people of God, His church, saved by grace through faith. Amen? As God’s people, we are saved and redeemed under the Covenant of Grace (Rom. 5:10-11), by the blood of Jesus and not of lambs or goats, which never fully satisfied the justice of God (Is. 1:11). We are no longer in Adam but now we are in Christ, saved from sin and death unto true life in Christ, thus, freeing us from sin to living obedient lives according to the Word and law of God in worship and honor to the glory of God alone. What Isaiah is prophesying of is ultimately the gospel, the message of the good news of Jesus Christ. He is not revealing the whole gospel (as revealed in the New Testament), but a promise of something good that has yet to come, but when it does, it will be wonderful because the Son of God is “wonderful,” as Isaiah has told us.
What were the remnant of Isaiah’s time, or Ahaz, or all of Judah, to do with this message? They were to look ahead in faith to the coming Savior of God’s people. What was Matthew’s audience to do with his message affirming the identity of Jesus? To know the truth, to repent, and to believe it. What are we to do with this truth? To look back at the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and daily repent of sin and believe God and His Word. Daily, we must run to Him. Daily, we petition in prayer that, by His Spirit, He sanctify us to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). Daily, we repent and ask for forgiveness of our sin, and daily we obey the Word of God, as He has clearly commanded that His creation ought to obey Him, in duty and honor to His name (Ac. 5:29). God is with us, church. For to US a child was born. Amen amen.