Isaiah chapter 7

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What does Isaiah chapter 7 mean?

Isaiah 7 moves from Isaiah's poetry about God's coming judgment to focus on Israel's history. It takes place during the reign of King Ahaz over Judah. Ahaz was the son of Jotham, who was son of King Uzziah (Isaiah 7:1).

Specifically, Isaiah 7 is set during the time when the kings of Israel and Syria join forces to try to remove Ahaz from the throne of Judah. Israel was the name for the nation comprised of the northern ten tribes of Israel. Judah was the name for the nation with the other two tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Pekah was king of Israel at this time, and Rezin was king of Syria, also known as Aram (Isaiah 7:1).

Ahaz and the citizens of Jerusalem are terrified when they learn that Syria and Ephraim, another name for Israel, were coming to destroy Judah together. These two kings knew Assyria was coming to attack them from the east and that Ahaz was loyal to the king of Assyria. They hoped to defeat Ahaz before Assyria attacked so they didn't have to fight both nations at once (Isaiah 7:2).

In this moment, when Ahaz and Jerusalem are weak with fear, the Lord tells Isaiah to go find King Ahaz at a specific place near the aqueduct that brings water into the city. Ahaz may have been attempting to secure Jerusalem's water source ahead of a possible siege (Isaiah 7:3).

Speaking from the Lord, Isaiah tells Ahaz to be careful, to calm down, and to stop being afraid. He tells the king to not lose courage because of the kings coming to attack and attempt to put another man on the throne. Why? Isaiah puts the prophecy to poetry saying that the thing Ahaz is worried about will not happen. In fact, Israel will cease to be a nation within 65 years (Isaiah 7:4–8).

In short, the Lord tells Ahaz to stop being afraid and to be firm in his faith. The Lord even tells Ahaz to ask Him for a miraculous sign as evidence that what He has said is true. Ahaz refuses, though, saying he will not test the Lord (Isaiah 7:9–12).

Ahaz's response sounds good at first. But Isaiah knows it is because the king does not trust the Lord. Isaiah asks why Ahaz must weary God. Then Isaiah gives Ahaz a sign, anyway. The prophet tells Ahaz that a virgin will conceive and bear a son, whom she will call Immanuel. In the modern context, we know this prophecy is about Jesus, because Matthew confirms it (Matthew 1:20–22). However, many scholars say this is a prophecy with a double fulfillment, one that happened in Isaiah's time, as well at the arrival of Jesus on earth (Isaiah 7:13–14).

Isaiah uses the birth of this child to communicate to Ahaz how quickly the Lord will bring about the destruction of Judah's enemies. Before this boy knows how to discern good from evil, the lands of Israel and Syria will be deserted. In other words, in the time it takes for a young woman to go from being unmarried to having a three-year-old, or perhaps a thirteen-year-old, the king of Assyria will have wiped out the two kings Ahaz is worried about. That's the good news. The bad news is that the Assyrians will also bring great destruction on Judah (Isaiah 7:15–17).

When that day comes, the prophet tells Ahaz, the Lord will summon Egypt and Assyria to rain down destruction on Judah. Those enemy armies will cover the land like migrating swarms of insects covering everything in their path (Isaiah 7:18–19).

Also when these days come to pass, the Lord will use the king of Assyria like a razor to shave Judah hairless, to further the complete humiliation of the people of Judah (Isaiah 7:20). The few who are left alive in Judah will have so much milk from so few animals that they will have to use some of it to make curds just to keep it from going bad (Isaiah 7:20–22).

Finally, when that day comes, Judah's grape industry will grind to a halt due to lack of workers to tend the vineyards. The vines will become overgrown with briers and thorns. Those left behind will turn to hunting and herding instead of growing (Isaiah 7:23–25).
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