Isaiah 7:1-2. And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.
They were tossed to and fro, bent, thrown down, as the trees of a forest in a tornado. They had already felt the power of these two confederate kings, and they were terribly afraid. David himself would have had confidence in God; but “the house of David” had gone far astray. Ahaz had cast off the fear of God, and he had therefore great fear of men.
Isaiah 7:3. Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son,
Shear-jashub was but a child; and why Isaiah was to take his son with him does not appear, except that his name signifies, “The remnant shall return,” and it was part of the prophet’s message that the remnant, the people who had been carried away captive, should return.
Isaiah 7:3. At the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;
God knows the exact spot where his servants shall meet with the men to whom he sends them. There is a corner where the fuller’s field just juts upon the upper pool; there Isaiah will meet king Ahaz, and there he is to speak to him. Is there any spot just by the Elephant and Castle” where God means to meet with some soul tonight? I pray that it may be so.
Isaiah 7:4. And say unto him,
The prophet is told the word he is to speak as well as the place where he is to deliver the message. Isaiah knew that he was soon to go and deal with men of hard, heart and deaf car. The other day we read the sixth chapter of this prophecy; and we noted the hard task that Isaiah had to perform. Now he is beginning his work with the man whom the Bible calls, “That king Ahaz,” as if it could not say anything bad enough of him, but had merely to mention his name, and everybody would know who was meant.
Isaiah 7:4. Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be faint-hearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.
Their kingdoms were dying out. They were like burnt-out firebrands; they made a little smoke, but within a very short time there would be nothing left of them, and Ahaz need not be afraid of them.
Isaiah 7:5-9. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let its go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son.
God did not intend it to grow any bigger. These two little kingdoms of Syria and Ephraim were to keep as they were until they were destroyed.
Isaiah 7:9-12. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.
He put his refusal very prettily, as men often do when they want to say an evil thing. He refused to accept a sign from the Lord, under the idle pretence that it would be tempting God. We never tempt God when we do what he bids us. There is no presumption in obedience. It was an idle compliment, to conceal the impudence of his heart. The Lord invited him to acknowledge Jehovah as his God: “Ask thee a sign of Jehovah thy God.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, neither will I tempt Jehovah.” He did not say, “Jehovah, my God”; and his silence meant dissent.
Isaiah 7:13. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David;
Observe, the prophet does not say, “Hear now, O Ahaz as if God would not deal with Ahaz on his own account, but only because he was of the “house of David.” The Lord remembered his covenant with David. God sometimes blesses men for the sake of their fathers. He might not hear a word that they had to say; but he remembers their fathers, and the amity and comity which there was between himself and their fathers.
Isaiah 7:13-14. Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, A wonderful sign this!
Isaiah 7:14-15. And shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
Whereupon a wise commentator says that, before children are able to learn, their parents should look upon the very feeding of them as a means of making them to know the difference between good and evil.
Isaiah 7:16. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
This was the sign-manual. Judah could not be destroyed, for our Lord was to spring out of Judah; and this was the sign that Judah must stand, because Immanuel must be born of that nation, and the time for this great event was fixed by the Lord. Until a child is some few years of age, he does not distinguish between good and evil; but in a shorter time than it would take a child to come to years of responsibility, God meant to cut off both those kings, and he did so. This was a very wonderful prophecy, and ought to have filled Ahaz with great delight, and with confidence in God; but it did nothing of the kind.
Now we are going to read more of the story of this king Ahaz.