It might help to know that Ahaz was not a good king, in terms of being devout in following God. He was evil and self-serving. Yet God tried to protect him because he was in the line of David and part of the kingly promise. Isaiah tells him God is okay with him asking for a sign to be sure it is really God who is speaking to him. Ahaz puts on a bit of a show of piety here when he says, “I will not test the Lord like that.” He knows that it is sinful to test the Lord. But he is being given “permission” to do so here and still refuses. Ahaz has obviously made up his mind he can do it on his own, or at least with the help of Assyria.
Then Isaiah says this. “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” This is recognizable to us as Christians. We find it also in Matthew 1:23. From the sources I reviewed, however, it is unlikely that Isaiah’s reference was strictly a pronouncement of the coming Messiah. Double prophecies happen, and I think that is what we have here. For purposes of the illustration given to Ahaz, it was a sign he could see with his own eyes rather than wait generations for fulfillment.
There is a lot of speculation as to who the woman is as well as the infant to be called Immanuel. The bigger picture I am going to focus on is the promise of God to be with us. Despite our failings and attempts to do things on our own (Ahaz is a great example of this), God will be there with us. Can you recall a time that you have tried to do something on your own without involving God? I think we all can. Imagine how much better it would have gone having God’s blessing!
To look a little deeper at the sign given by God, we see the child eating yogurt (curds) and honey. That was meant to set the time frame for which those powers that King Ahaz feared would be done away with. God had already told Ahaz he was safe from being overthrown as he feared. This sign reconfirms it. “For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.” The food choices themselves also give us the impression of prosperity as they are found elsewhere in the Bible as food fit for a king!
Ahaz was fearing the wrong thing. We often do that, too. The verses that follow set out the curses and calamities that will befall the king’s family and the region. The words of Isaiah do not sound at all pleasing. If Ahaz was putting his faith into Assyria for help, it was clearly a bad idea. They would not provide a safe refuge for long. Isaiah explains these coming days in such detail using insects of terror, known to be symbols of God’s judgment. Was Ahaz quaking in his shoes now?
So, what does all of this say to us today? Perhaps we need to be careful where we put our trust. We may see people, organizations, groups, etc. that look helpful or interesting. Are we being sucked into something that is not pleasing to God? Are our alliances with people helping us grow closer to God or taking us away from him? How are we involving God in our plans? Take some time to reflect today.
Let’s pray … Lord, you are clearly in my corner doing what you can to protect me. Thank you for how your hand is at work in my life. May I be careful in whom I place my trust. Give me discernment to see through the screens of deception so prevalent in the world today. May I be a shining light for those looking for you. Thank you for your guidance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.