CSBC Sunday School: Isaiah
Lesson #3: Isaiah 7:7-17
September 20, 2020
Resources: Phillips; Hearson; MacArthur; McCrary, B. Jennings, Explore the Bible
HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)
Central Theme: GOD’S PROMISES!
Objective Statement: EVERY CHILD OF GOD CAN TRUST GOD’S PROMISES BY REALIZING FOUR PRINCIPLES ABOUT HIS WILL!
Points: PRINCIPLE #1 – GOD INTERVENES! PRINCIPLE #2 – GOD EXPECTS! PRINCIPLE #3 – GOD ANNOUNCES! PRINCIPLE #4 – GOD JUDGES!
- FOCUS ATTENTION: HAVE YOU EVER HEARD THE EXPRESSION, “DON’T LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH?” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? In the past, when people sold and traded horses, a person could tell the age and quality of a horse by looking at its teeth. To look at the teeth of a horse given as a gift shows a lack of appreciation. The idiom means, do not reject a gift someone gives you. Be thankful. In Isaiah’s day, God offered King Ahaz of Judah a gift, a sign guaranteeing God’s protection. But Ahaz thought it was better to trust in Assyria’ king instead of God – a decision that would have devastating consequences.
- CONTEXT: AS A MILITARY TERM, CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN WHAT A “PINCER’S MOVEMENT” IS? When one army is engaged in a fight with their enemy and suddenly from behind the battle, another army, or a division of the original forces, attacks. Without warning, the one army is surrounded, front and back, fighting a battle on two fronts. This offensive strategy called a “pincer’s movement” is usually a major tactic that almost always results in victory. In Isaiah 7, the armies of Israel (sometimes called Ephraim), the Northern Kingdom, and Aram (later called Syria), had joined in an alliance to fight the Assyrians. These two armies wanted more support for their coalition and so they asked King Ahaz of Judah to join with them. He did not want to fight the Assyrians, so he refused to be a part of this alliance. Hoping to add to their fighting forces, and not wanting Ahaz and Judah to suddenly join the Assyrians and lock the northerners in a “pincer’s movement,” this union of Syria and Israel decided to attack Judah first. Isaiah prophesied to Ahaz’s words of encouragement that God was going to intervene and help him. Unfortunately, Ahaz did not accept Isaiah’s message and turned to the Assyrians for assistance. So God further prophesied judgment for Aram, Israel, and even Judah, as He would use a pagan, foreign, kingdom to be an instrument of punishment against God’s own people. God even told Isaiah in chapter 8, to name his newborn son, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means, “speeding to the plunder, hurrying to the spoil.” God’s judgment was coming in the form of the invading Assyrian army.
- Let’s Explore the Bible in Isaiah 7:7-17.
BOOK: (What does the Bible say?)
PRINCIPLE #1 – GOD INTERVENES! (Isaiah 7:7-9)
- “It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass” (vs. 7). In the previous verses ( 7:1-6) God knew that the people of Judah and King Ahaz were terrified of the impending invasion from the north by Israel and Syria (Aram). So God, through Isaiah, stated point-blank, the plot that the kings of Syria and Ephraim (the northern kingdom of Israel) had made to overthrow Judah and Jerusalem. God also told Ahaz there was nothing to worry about; what he feared, would not happen (vs. 7). God expressed this fact twice to emphasize the certainty that there was nothing to worry about. But Ahaz and the people of Judah just didn’t believe it. The reality they faced was a gathering army on their doorstep. Trusting God’s promise before it comes to pass is always a challenge, even for the most faithful.
- In 8-9, God tells Ahaz that both Syria and Ephraim would be broken. This defeat by the Assyrians would result in the exile of those people. So the Israelites in the north would be deported and the Assyrians, in an effort to suppress rebellion, practiced “reverse deportation” that meant they would bring other conquered nations and transplant them in the territory of Israel to intermingle with the small group of Israelites that remained around Samaria (the poor, the weak, the infirmed) (See 2 Kings 17). All of these events would be accomplished within 65 years of this prophecy. Verse 9 ends, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.” In other words, IF Ahaz believed God, his rule and dynasty would be established. But if he failed to trust in the Lord, his decisions would be wrong and he would continue in his fear and insecurity. When it comes time to make the right decisions in life, we must trust God or we will live with uncertainty and live without confidence. So TRUST GOD!
PRINCIPLE #2 – GOD EXPECTS! (vs. 10-13)
- This portion of the text suggests that God was prepared to do even more to prove Himself to Ahaz. WHAT DID GOD OFFER TO AHAZ TO SHOW HIS POWER? Well, verse 10 begins with the word, “Moreover.” That means, more than just promising Ahaz’s future if he will trust and believe God, the Lord was ready to prove it! Think about what God was offering. More than just the challenge to believe, God was offering to give Ahaz a SIGN to help him believe. God even offered to let Ahaz choose what the sign will be. Notice the scope of God’s willingness to grant a sign. He says, “ask it either in the depth, or in the height above” ( 11b). It’s like God is saying, “The sky is the limit! Let me prove to you that I can be trusted.” As amazing as the proposition was, what is more,, unbelievable is that Ahaz does not take God’s offer. Instead,, he gives a pious reason why He will not ask God for a sign (vs. 12). At first glance, that answer may sound spiritual but think about it. If God is the one who came up with the idea and proposed it to you, you would not be tempting the Lord to participate in the proposition. This response showed Ahaz’s lack of belief, and how unchanged his attitude really was. We know all of this from vs. 13. Isaiah saw right through Ahaz and his hypocritical answer. With the stern statement, “Hear ye now, O house of David” (vs. 13a), Isaiah marked Ahaz’s excuse for what it was. The impersonal “house of David” phrase likely served as a warning to Ahaz that he was still standing only because of God’s covenantal promise to David. Ahaz’s attitude not only wearied the people of Judah but now his attitude and response were wearying God. Ahaz was acting like the apathetic, snobby teenager who stubbornly will not respond in trust to God. The truth was that Ahaz had already made an alliance with the King of Assyria to protect him against Syria and Ephraim (2 Kings 16:5-19). So Ahaz placed his trust in the king he could see, more than the God he could not see, even when God, Himself, was speaking to him and offering him a sign. Oh, what a disastrous decision Ahaz made. But isn’t it just like us to believe what we can see rather than trust God in faith (see Heb. 11:6).
PRINCIPLE #3 – GOD ANNOUNCES! (vs. 14-15)
- In verses 10-13 God offered to give Ahaz a sign so that he would trust God. Ahaz feigned a pious answer and refused a sign from God. When we read 14, we realize that God would not be refused. He gave Ahaz a SIGN anyway. Verse 14 may be one of the most well-known verses in Isaiah. We often hear this verse around Christmas time because of its clear reference and fulfillment in the conception and birth of Jesus! Matthew quotes this verse regarding the conception and birth of the Lord (Matt. 1:22-23). So we know, by prophetic inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Isaiah 7:14 definitely refers to Jesus when He was born of the virgin, Mary (Luke 1:34-35). When we read Isaiah in its context, there is clearly a sign that is being given to Ahaz.
- SO HOW SHOULD WE UNDERSTAND ISAIAH 7:14 AS BOTH A SIGN TO AHAZ AND A PROPHESY OF JESUS’ BIRTH? A couple of positions have been taken. If this sign was only fulfilled in Isaiah’s day, this is problematic. First, there has never been another virgin birth recorded in the Bible besides Mary. Also, Matthew clearly teaches that it speaks of Mary and Jesus. 2. If the verse is only fulfilled in Jesus’ day, it’s problematic because there is a specific reference to timing in vs. 15-16. The sign of this son named Immanuel would signify that before this son was old enough to discern good and evil (a reference to his age), “the land would be forsaken of both of her kings” (vs. 16). 3. Isaiah 7:14 has both an immediate fulfillment in Isaiah’s day and ultimately is fulfilled in Jesus. This seems to be the correct interpretation, but it does leave us with several questions. Is the baby born in Isaiah’s day “born of a virgin”? Warren Wiersbe and others contend that the woman spoken of in Isaiah’s day was a virgin at the point of the prophecy, who would later conceive and bear a son. Before that child grew up, the judgment would come upon Israel, Syria, and Judah. The fulfillment with Mary and Jesus was clearly the result of a supernatural, virgin birth as attested to by Matthew, Luke, and many other N.T. writers, leaving no room for the idea that the conception of Jesus is anything less than miraculous. That was the true, prophesied, miracle of the virgin birth that would be the sign that God had come near! Verse 15 gives us a sense of time it will take before the immediate fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah’s day.
PRINCIPLE #4 – GOD JUDGES! (vs. 16-17)
- God explains in these verses that the sign of this child, and his age, will indicate God’s timing for imminent judgment on Syria, Ephraim, and Judah. The very king that Ahaz sought to appease by changing the altar in Jerusalem and modifying the Temple will be the instrument of God’s judgment on all of them (2 Kings 16:10-18). Ahaz was willing to dishonor God by making appeasement to this pagan king. God tells Ahaz that the king in which he trusted would eventually be who God used to judge the nation for their sins ( 17). You have heard people say to be careful what you wish for. When we trust in something other than God that can become our undoing. Don’t put your trust in man, BUT GOD ALONE!
LOOK: (Why is what it says important?)
Objective Statement (Repeated): EVERY CHILD OF GOD CAN TRUST GOD’S PROMISES BY REALIZING FOUR PRINCIPLES! PRINCIPLE #1 – GOD INTERVENES! PRINCIPLE #2 – GOD EXPECTS! PRINCIPLE #3 – GOD ANNOUNCES! PRINCIPLE #4 – GOD JUDGES!
- The question is, WHO OR WHAT ARE YOU TRUSTING IN? Are you putting all your trust in the Creator God? This is a FAITH issue. Just because you cannot see God, doesn’t justify that we should put our faith in sinful men. Ahaz turned away from God and His amazing willingness to give a miraculous sign. Instead, Ahaz put his trust in the Assyrian king. How foolish. And that decision lead to his own destruction. Don’t follow the example of Ahaz.
TOOK: (Why is it important to me? What should I do with it?)
Evaluation: This week take some steps to consciously work on placing your trust in the Lord. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Far too often we look to some human advice that will inevitably lead us down a wrong path. Prov. 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” So exercise your TRUST MUSCLES this week and have FAITH in God!
In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Isaiah 23:8-18.