DIG: What was the sign and to whom was it given? What do you make of the curds and honey imagery? How does this sign fit the crisis? Instead of peace, what will happen once the northern kingdom of Israel and Syria are out of the picture? What was the root cause of Ahaz’s error? What possible reasons can you think of that would explain why he would be so completely disinterested in God’s offer of a miraculous sign?
REFLECT: Since Ahaz was a bad king all along, what does it mean to you in your life that the LORD would still desire to give him a sign of His mercy? Where do you get your wisdom, knowledge and understanding from? Who do you trust, worship, and obey? The world or the LORD? What evidence do you have of that in your life? Why was Ahaz a fool? What can you learn from his mistakes?
Most people in this life avoid any accountability for their actions. Some make excuses, many blame others, while most just avoid, or, as a last resort, postpone. Ahaz was no different. He had made a horrific decision to trust in the world and not to trust in ADONAI; tragically, the only One who could really save him. He had demonstrated his lack of faith by rejecting a confirming sign of Isaiah’s prophecy (7:12). Therefore, the LORD gave him two signs (whether he wanted them or not). First, the House of David would be preserved (7:13-14), and secondly, he would not be dethroned (7:15-16), but would continue to live under Assyrian domination (7:17).
In 7:10-14, Isaiah used the Hebrew singular or plural form of you, to tell us who he is talking to, or about. In 7:10-12 he uses the singular form and was talking to Ahaz, then in 7:13-14 he uses the Hebrew plural form of you to let us know that he was referring to the house of David. Here in 7:15-17, however, Isaiah reverts back to the Hebrew singular you, because he wants to indicate that he was talking once again to Ahaz.
The king needed something that would serve as a definite sign that the prophecies of Isaiah would be fulfilled in his lifetime (7:7-9). The virgin birth was an assurance to the house of David and Ahaz would understand that he would not be dethroned. As far as God was concerned, He was honoring the position of the one who sat on the throne of David, and not honoring Ahaz personally. But the sign needed to have some historical significance to him personally. A miracle that was going to happen seven centuries later would have no meaning to him. Here the definite article is important again; it is not a boy, but the boy. Before the boy, a specific person, is old enough to make moral choices, the two kings of the confederacy will be laid waste. So the prophecy given by Isaiah will be fulfilled in a very short period of time, which is part of the test of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste (7:16).
The word for boy used here cannot refer to a newly born child, it was a young boy. When we look at the immediate context we find that there is a boy mentioned back in 7:3; when Isaiah was told to meet Ahaz, God also told him to bring his son Shear-Jashub. There was a specific reason why ADONAI told Isaiah to bring his son along. While the Son born to the virgin would be a sign to the House of David, Shear-Jashub was a sign to Ahaz. And before Shear-Jashub is old enough to make moral choices, the two kings will not be a threat to Ahaz.
Isaiah prophesied that his son, Shear-Jashub was a sign to king Ahaz (7:3). He will eat curds and honey until he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right (7:15). Within about three years, or nine months for the pregnancy and a couple of years, the boy would know the difference between right and wrong have the ability to make moral choices. At that time, Isaiah said, the land of the two kings Ahaz dreaded would be laid waste and the northern alliance between Israel and Syria would be broken (7:16). Not surprisingly, history proved this to be true. Pekah was attacked and assassinated by his countryman Hoshea (Second Kings 15:29-30), and Rezin (Second Kings 16:9) was put to death by Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria.
Honey was and is frequently mixed with various forms of milk products and used upon bread. When traveling, Arabs often take leather bottles full of honey for this purpose. It is considered very palatable, especially by the children (not to newborn infants). Butter is also mentioned in connection with honey in Second Samuel 17:29, Job 32:13, and Song of Solomon 4:11. We find in Proverbs 25:16 and 27 allusions to the disagreeable consequences of eating too much honey, and it is possible that experience had proved the oily nature of the butter a corrective to the sweetness of the honey. Honey and oil are named together in Deuteronomy 32:13.28
Ahaz was at the crossroads of his life. Isaiah had said to him: If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. Now Ahaz deliberately rejected that prophecy. Just because God had assured him that the two kings would fail in their attempt to divide Judah, it did not mean that Ahaz himself would escape the consequences of his actions. Isaiah went on to tell Ahaz that because he lacked faith, he himself would suffer. ADONAI will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah – He will bring the king of Assyria (7:17). Ahaz was the one who aligned Judah with Assyria to begin with. As a result, God basically said, “You want Assyria. I am going to give you Assyria.” Once the Assyrians subjugated Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel, they would continue southward and subjugate Judah as well. Had Ahaz believed God, the confederacy would have been broken and Judah would have been freed from the Assyrian domination. But he did not. As a result, Ahaz and Judah continued to pay tribute to Assyria (Second Kings 16:7; Second Chronicles 28:21), worship Assyrian gods (Second Chronicles 28:22-25), and live under their control. As a final indictment against this evil king, Ahaz was buried in Jerusalem, but not in the tombs of the kings (Second Chronicles 28:27).
Isaiah said that God would bring an invasion unlike any since the ten northern tribes (here called Ephraim), broke away from the two Southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah in 931 B.C. He will bring the king of Assyria. There were four other invasions against Judah since the start of the kingdom. The first invasion was by Shishak (First Kings 14:25-26; Second Chronicles 12:2-9). A second invasion was by the Ethiopians (Second Chronicles 14:9-15). A third invasion was by the combined forces of Moab and Ammon (Second Chronicles 20:1-30), and a fourth invasion was by the combined forces of Philistines and Arabs (Second Chronicles 21:16-17). Yet this invasion by the Assyrians, led by Tiglath-Pileser, would be worse than all of them.
By risking everything, Ahaz had gambled that the Assyrian military prowess would save both him and Judah. But in doing so, he bet against God, the only One who could truly protect him and the nation. In the last analysis, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave him trouble instead of help. Ahaz took some of the things from the Temple of the LORD, from the royal palace, and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him (Second Chronicles 28:20-21).
King Solomon had warned that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7a). The problem with King Ahaz was that he feared the king of Assyria more than he feared the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16). The fear of the LORD appears 11 times in Proverbs, and fear the LORD occurs 4 times. Resit is the Hebrew word for beginning, which means the start. Thus, one cannot gain knowledge of spiritual things by starting at the wrong point by refusing to fear the LORD. In other words, to recognize God’s character and respond by revering, trusting, worshiping obeying and serving Him. Resit also means the capstone or the essence. Therefore, the essence of true knowledge is the fear of the LORD. Apart from Him, we are ignorant of spiritual things (Romans 1:22; Ephesians 4:18; First Peter 1:14).
In contrast to those who fear God and have knowledge, fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7b). In the Hebrew, despise or buz, means to hold in contempt, to belittle or to ridicule. It is used 7 other times in Proverbs 6:30, 11:12, 13:13, 14:21, 23:9 and 22, 30:17. Of the three Hebrew words translated fool in Proverbs: ksil is characterized by a closed mind, nabal refers to one who lacks spiritual perception, and ewil is an illustration of someone who is arrogant. This was a clear picture of Ahaz. He was arrogant, lacked spiritual perception, and had a closed mind to what Isaiah was saying. In short, Ahaz was a fool.
You and I were born into that darkness. Many people don’t believe that. In fact in a Barna poll 74 percent of Americans said that people were born neither good nor bad (Forward in Christ, Dec. 2002, p. 28). That illustrates how thick the darkness is. We don’t realize how lost and helpless we naturally are, even though God’s Word plainly says: Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017