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Part of this chapter is historical, and part prophetical. The distress of Jerusalem gives occasion to introduce a memorable prophecy concerning Christ. The chapter closes with threatenings.
If the Reader will consult the corresponding scripture, in the history of the kings of Judah and Israel, he will find that a considerable time had elapsed between the vision in the preceding chapter, and the opening of this. It is not said, what year of Ahaz's reign it was w hen those kings came up against Jerusalem. But it could not have been less than sixteen or seventeen years after Uzziah died: for the whole reign of Jotham is passed over, and that continued sixteen years. See 2 Kings 16:0 , and 2 Chronicles 28:0 . The character of Ahaz is so largely given in those scriptures, that I refer the Reader to what is said of him, and his impiety, in these places.
I beg the Reader to remark with me, the Lord's tender mercy to his people. Surely in this history, as in a thousand others, the Apostle's words are fulfilled: where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; Romans 5:20 . We hear nothing of Ahaz sending to Isaiah or himself calling upon the Lord; but it is the Lord sending to Ahaz. Grace must first be given, or there will be no moving of the heart to the Lord. Reader! do remark the command of God to the prophet, to take his son with him, when he sent him to meet Ahaz. The Lord sent the prophet, notwithstanding Ahaz's undeserving, with a message of comfort; and perhaps the child's being with him, was intended as a sign; for his name seems to have been significant of it. Shear-jashub implies, a remnant to return. In the Old Testament Scripture, the Lord's servants were remarkable for giving names to their children, according to the times, or special mercies received, by way of memorial. And no doubt, as oft as they looked upon them, it brought the pleasing circumstance afresh to recollection, and called forth new praise. It were to be wished, that New Testament saints would adopt the same plan: they would find the Lord's blessing upon it. Faith, in honouring God, will find God honouring the exercise of it. If the Reader would wish to see instances, I refer him to those scriptures, Genesis 28:19 ; 1 Samuel 1:20 ; Psalms 70:0 in the title. It is not said what effect the prophet's message produced on the king's mind; but by what follows, we are led to admire and adore the Lord's grace in bearing with sinners, who slight his renewed mercies. Reader! do not fail to remark from it, how, in all ages, sin and its hardening effects abound!
Reader! do not forget again, in the perusal of this most blessed scripture, to observe how the Lord takes occasion from man's unworthiness to magnify the riches of his grace. So, indeed, the Lord hath done from the beginning. The fall of Adam made way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh! what wonders are found in the subject of redeeming grace! How blessed is it to see God's graciousness! The Lord had sent his servant, the prophet, on a message to Ahaz, to comfort him, notwithstanding his transgressions, in the prospect of his enemies coming up against his kingdom; and though it doth not appear, that it had any effect upon the mind of Ahaz; yet the Lord will speak to him again; and, if possible, in a yet more endearing manner, bids him ask a sign, which might become the proof of divine faithfulness. But the king is deaf to all entreaty. Alas! what creatures we are, when void of grace; how lost and insensible, even to the goodness and long-suffering of God! But though Ahaz slights the Lord, the Lord will not slight his people; the sign shall not be lost to the Church, for it is a most blessed one! And though the king despised it, there were, no doubt, many of God's hidden ones to whom it proved, as the Lord designed it, a gracious support against the rapidly approaching afflictions of the church. Since Ahaz will not ask a sign, Jehovah will give the house of David a sign unasked: yea, the Lord himself will give both the sign, and the blessing veiled under the sign, from his own free, unmerited, unsought for goodness. Behold then the astonishing sign! A virgin shall conceive, without the use of the natural means of propagation; a son shall be born, without the intervention of a human father; and this wonderful child shall be called by a name significant of his nature, as God and man in one person, even Immanuel! And though so distinguished from all others, yet in the common circumstances of life he shall be as others are; butter and honey shall he eat; that is, he should be subject to all the natural wants, and infirmities of manhood, sin only excepted. Now all these marks and characters were signs indeed, which when fulfilled in one and the same person, left no question remaining as to whom the prophecy referred: and as they never were, nor ever could be fulfilled in any other but the Lord Jesus Christ; how blessed is it to trace the love of God, thus watching over the church, and thus opening to the church's view the coming of her Lord, at an age so distant and remote, as that in which the prophet Isaiah lived. I only detain the Reader, to remark with me, the grace of God in the sweet discoveries made of Jesus, from age to age: how, by gradual means, from the first dawn of revelation, down to the very moment of Christ's coming, the Lord unfolded the wonders of his person and character, like the light of the morning, shining more and more unto a perfect day! To Adam it was said, that the Redeemer should be of the seed of the woman; to Abraham, of his house and family; to Jacob, the tribe of which he should spring; in the time of David, many of his offices, in his prophetical, priestly, and kingly character, were foretold; and now in the days of the prophets, other features were given: Isaiah in this place declares, that he should be born of a virgin; Micah is commissioned to tell the place of his birth; Daniel the time: and thus the Lord prepared the church, by little and little, to have clear conceptions both of his person and character, that every soul, might be on the look-out to hail and welcome. the coming Saviour!
I have separated this verse from the whole passage going before from an idea, (though I presume not to say I am right) that it is not connected with what is said concerning Christ, but as a sign to Isaiah concerning himself, and the events then pending in the church. Some have translated the words, "For before this child, " that is, his own child, Shear-jashub, whom the Lord had commanded the prophet to take with him to Ahaz, "before this child was grown up, " the land thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." And in confirmation of this as an history, it is remarkable, that about three years after this preaching of Isaiah to Ahaz, as we read, 2 Kings 15:30 , Hoshea killed Pekah the son of Remaliah, and, 2 Kings 16:9 , the king of Assyria slew Rezin: It should seem, therefore, that it was to those events this verse referred, and not to Christ, with whom it should seem it had no connection.
After the Lord had given the unspeakably blessed promise, concerning the coming of Christ, that his people in those degenerate times might have comfort, he proceeds to his solemn threatenings: and most solemn and awful indeed they are. Ahaz, in his impiety, had been looking to Assyria for help; and to purchase it, had robbed the house of the Lord of the silver and gold, 2 Kings 16:8 . The Lord therefore tells him, that this very king shall be the instrument of his ruin. And whereas he feared the weapons of men, the Lord will make even the flies of Egypt, and the bee of Assyria, those little feeble insects, the instruments of his misery. Reader! think what a state of ruin the sinner is brought to, whose very comforts turn to sorrows; and in the things wherein he chiefly proposed to himself happiness; the bitterness of all his afflictions abound! Oh! for grace to read these things with a spiritual improvement, that we may learn how dreadful it must be to have God for our foe, who can convert our very blessings into curses, and make that which was intended for good, be unto us an occasion of falling. The ruin by reason of sin, in the representation made in the close of the chapter, of sharing the land of inhabitants, that briers and thorns come up; the brood of cattle restrained, and all the tokens of want and misery take place; if read spiritually, may serve to show how the mind is exposed and laid open to every evil, where Christ is not. Let Ephraim alone, he is joined to his idols; if the Lord saith thus of church or people, there needs no more to the most finished misery. Lord! I would say for myself and Reader, Oh! take not away thine Holy Spirit from us! Hosea 4:17 ; Psalms 51:11 .
READER! let us pass over every lesser consideration, to attend to that blessed and most important prophecy, contained in this chapter, concerning the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though Ahaz refused to hear, and would not ask a sign of the Lord, let you and I receive this blessed sign, so graciously given to the church, and on our bended knees, read and adore God in Christ, for so rich and precious a scripture. And now that we have lived to see the whole fulfilled, yea more than fulfilled, in a thousand additional mercies, which the Son of God hath brought with him, and with which he hath beautified and comforted his church; oh! for grace to meditate in the same, night and day; and to read both the prophecy and the accomplishment of it, under the Spirit's teaching, until all the blissful consequences included in it be incorporated in our hearts, and we discover and enjoy our interest in all that belongs to our Jesus and his great salvation!
Oh! thou dear Lord of thy church and people! Didst thou, the glorious Ancient of days, condescend to become the babe of Bethlehem? Didst thou, blessed Jesus, vouchsafe to be born for me, and rather than the poorest of thy family should perish, wouldest become man, and not abhor the virgin's womb? Oh! the preciousness of that name, that glorious gracious name Immanuel, which is more fragrant than ointment poured forth! Never may I lose sight of it; never may I go abroad, or remain at home, without bearing it about with me: it tells me, my Jesus is God! Surely then he can save me; surely he wilt save me! The work of redemption was not too great for him. Yea, it gives efficacy to all he did, and all he suffered. For now I see by it, that all he did, and all he suffered, were the acts of God, mighty to save. And sure I am, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him. God my Saviour will carry on, and complete, all that remains to be done concerning me; how then shall I perish, or come short of his glory? Oh! thou glorious Immanuel! blessed Jesus! give me to hail thee forever by this endeared name. And moreover, as my Redeemer is Immanuel, God with us; so is he Immanuel, God in our nature! Oh what so near or so dear as Jesus, who is bone of my bone, and flesh of my, flesh? Lord, I pass by all the affinities of life, in comparison of thee: for thou fittest all, and art nearer than all. And oh! how delightful the thought! that while my soul finds such rapture in the consciousness of the relation: Jesus wilt not deny his poor relation, but condescends to own him. Yea, he commands that I should be told, he is not ashamed to call his people, brethren? Precious, precious Jesus! And be thou adored, my Lord, for such a sign, in such a prophecy, given to the church, by thy servant, Thanks be to God! for his unspeakable gift.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany