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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 7

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9


JEHOVAH’S DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL, (Isaiah 7:1 to Isaiah 12:6)


This chapter is set in the period of a struggle between Judah and the coalition made up of Syria and Ephraim (the 10 tribes of Israel). Ahaz, king of Judah, is terrified by the expectation of imminent invasion, when the prophet comes with a word designed for his comfort. If he will only trust in Jehovah, Judah will be delivered. He is even urged to "ask a sign" of Jehovah’s good intention, but refuses. Then, he is given a sign - far-reaching in its significance, but one that the king may see and believe. The birth of a child will signify Jehovah’s presence with, and preservation of, Judah.

1. Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, the son of Remaliah king of Israel, have come to wage war against Jerusalem, but have not been able to prevail, (Verse 1, 6-7).

2. When Ahaz hears of the coalition between Syria and Ephraim against Judah, his heart, and the hearts of his people, begin to shake - as a tree before a mighty wind, (Verse 2).

3. The Lord sends Isaiah to the frightened king, along with his firstborn son - whose symbolic name was a pledge of Jehovah’s faithful preservation of a holy remnant of His believing people. "Sherjashub" means "A remnant shall return"; that is "Repent!" (Verse 3).

4. The king is to be careful, but calm and fearless before these two "tails of smoking firebrands", (Verse 4; comp. Isaiah 30:15; Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 25:4).

5. It is their intention to create a schism in Judah and set up the son of Tabeal as king in Jerusalem; but they will not succeed. This is the Lord’s own word about it, (Verse 5-7; comp. Isaiah 8:10; Isaiah 28:13; Psalms 2:4-6).

6. In verses 8-9a the prophet reveals that within 65 years the northern kingdom (Ephraim, or Israel) will be shattered as a nation

7. If Ahaz is to be secure, he must have firm confidence in Jehovah, his God, (Verse 9b; comp. Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 8:6-8; Isaiah 30:12-14; 2 Chronicles 20:20-24). But Ahaz wants no part of a faith-walk!

Verses 10-18

Verse 10-18: A SIGN FOR AHAZ

1. Speaking through the prophet, the Lord challenges Ahaz to ask for a sign -- to assure his heart that the prophetic word is utterly trustworthy, (Verse 10-11; Isaiah 37:30; Isaiah 38:7-8; Isaiah 55:13; 2 Kings 19:29-31).

2. But, the king’s mind is made up; he is not interested in any word from the Lord. Furthermore, he WILL NOT ask; AHAZ will not tempt THE LORD! (Not recognzing that his disobedience, in refusing to ask, is doing just that.) Instead, he takes the fatal step of sending a large tribute to Tiglath-pileser (the Assyrian) - asking his aid, (2 Kings 16:7-8).

3. Isaiah rebukes the king for this outrage (Verse 13; comp. Isaiah 1:14; Isaiah 43:24), and tells him that he WILL HAVE a sign: the God of the prophet ("My God", comp. Isaiah 25:1) is DETERMINED that he will have it!

4. The prophecy recorded in verses 14-15 is far-reaching, and of deep significance - having a two-fold fulfillment: one near, and symbolic; the other ultimate, complete and glorious.

a. The near fulfillment (as a sign of Ahaz) will be revealed in the birth of a second child (a son) to be conceived shortly by the prophetess (Isaiah’s own wife). His divinely-given name, "Maher-shal-al-hash-baz", meaning "the spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth", suggests the imminent overthrow of the Syro-Ephraimite coalition of which Ahaz is so miserably afraid. The very name of this "sign-child" (as related to Judah’s enemies) is adequate assurance to the prophet (and should be to the king) that "God is with us"!

b. The distant, ultimate fulfillment (for the glory of the "house of David") will be realized in the incarnation of the very Son of God (born of a virgin) to sit on the re-established throne of His father David, and to rule gloriously - not only-over a re-united Israel, but over all the earth, (Luke 1:32-33).

5. Let there be no misunderstanding: THIS AUTHOR FIRMLY BELIEVES IN THE MIRACULOUS, VIRGIN BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST - Son of Man and Son of God! He does NOT believe, however, that God ever intended that Isaiah 7:14 should become a theological battlefield on which the issue of that virgin birth should be decided. Intellectual honesty, and contextual evidence, forces him to take a stand that is somewhat different from that sincerely held by many of his beloved brethren.

a. Considerable controversy has raged, among respected and competent commentators, with regard to the usage of the Hebrew word "almah" in this passage. Much of it has been highly emotional, and involved more rhetoric than reason. Some assert (as Criswell, in his footnotes on this passage) that "In the seven instances in which it appears, it is not once used of anyone other than a’virgin’, (Genesis 24:23; Exodus 2:8; Psalms 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; Song of Solomon 6:8)." Yet, there seems little concern that in three of these passages (even in the King James version) it is rendered "maid" (Exodus 2:8; Proverbs 30:19) and "damsels" (Psalms 68:25).

b. Others have suggested, with equal conviction, that to insist on the rendering of "virgin", in this passage, is to force New Testament interpretation on Old Testament revelation. And that such interpretation totally ignores the contextual usage - wherein it was to be a "sign" for Ahaz - whatever future implication it might hold for the "house of David".

c. Whatever view one may hold on the basic meaning of "almah", the immediate context (and near fulfillment, as a "sign" for Ahaz) requires a rendering consistent with the conception and birth of a SECOND "sign-child" to the wife of the prophet.

d. Though "the prophetess" (through whom the sign was given to Ahaz) could NOT be regarded as a "virgin" (Isaiah 8:3-4; Isaiah 8:8); Matthew, alluding to the passage centuries later (in connection with the birth of Jesus), is perfectly justified (under the Spirit’s direction) in using "parthenos" (Gk. Matthew 1:23) - the strongest possible word for "virgin" afforded by the Greek language - as he records the angelic revelation to the heavy-hearted Joseph (Nor is it unusual for New Testament writers to exercise great liberty in unfolding from Old Testament passages far richer and fuller meaning than was possible, or even proper, in their original contexts.) cp. Psalms 68:18 with Ephesians 4:8 and Psalms 40:6 with Hebrews 10:5.

e. The absurdity advocated by some - that every pious daughter in Israel kept herself pure in the hope that she might be selected as the "virgin" through which Messiah would be born - is evident in the TOTAL UNAWARENESS of the virgin Mary that such a thing was even POSSIBLE!. (Luke 1:34).

f. The import of this prophecy, in all its glorious fullness, will be realized ONLY in the coming millennial era, when Jesus, the Messiah, rules as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Verses 17-25


1. Contrary to Scofield’s notes, the prophet here turns his face (not toward Judah, but) toward the northern kingdom of Israel and announces such trouble’ as Ephraim has not experienced since departing from Judah, (1 Kings 12:16).

2. This judgment the Lord will bring upon the northern kingdom through the instrumentality of the king of Assyria, (Isaiah 8:7-8; Isaiah 10:5-6; 2 Chronicles 28:20).

3. Hordes of Egyptians and Assyrians, comparable to flies and bees, will settle down so thickly that the whole land will be covered, (Verse 18-19).

4. With a razor that is hired (the king of Assyria) the Lord will shave: the head, hair of the feet, and beard of Israel - involving great indignity and insufferable humiliation, (Verse 20).

5. "A young cow and two sheep" appear to suggest poverty, (Verse 21; comp. Isaiah 14:30; Isaiah 27:10).

6. Cultivated fields, which have brought them wealth, will be over-run by thorns and briars - sustaining only sheep and oxen, (Verse 23-25; comp. Isaiah 5:10; Isaiah 32:13-14); forgetfullness of the Lord always brings men to ruin!

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 7". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/isaiah-7.html. 1985.
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