A Message for Ahaz
Text: Isaiah 7:1-25
A Prophecy to Ahaz - Isaiah 7:1-9
This begins a series of messages to various political leaders and nations. This particular message was King Ahaz, the grandson of Uzziah. Ahaz ruled from 735 to 715 B.C. At this point in time, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel attempted to wage war against Judah, but they failed to conquer Jerusalem. This happened early in Ahaz’s reign, probably around 733 B.C., just as Ahaz’s father, Jotham, was nearing his death in 732 B.C. (II Kings 15:37-38; 16:5-6). Aram managed to take over Elath, which is on the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba.
Out of fear of Assyria, Rezin and Pekah wanted Judah to join them in an alliance. From history, we know that Egypt encouraged this alliance because they wanted a buffer between them and Assyria. Unable to get Ahaz’s cooperation, they sought to remove Ahaz and install a puppet king in his place (Isaiah 7:5-6). The name Tabeel is Syrian, so it is likely that Rezin was planning to put a relative on the throne in Judah. God allowed the battle because Ahaz was practicing idolatry (II Chronicles 28:1-4). Meanwhile, Ahaz was also being attacked by the Edomites and the Philistines in the south (II Chronicles 28:17-19).
Rezin and Pekah’s initial attack failed, but they killed a large number of warriors and carried off a sizeable chunk of Judah’s population (II Chronicles 28:5-8). They then regrouped and were camped on the border of Judah, about three days from Jerusalem. Terror ran through the people of Judah (Isaiah 7:2).
Isaiah meets Ahaz, bringing his son Shear-Jashub (“a remnant shall return”) with him. The presence of Isaiah’s son was a subtle threat. Ahaz is focused on his immediate problems, but the real problem is the looming captivity from which only a few would return.
The Lord already knows that Ahaz is planning to appeal to Assyria for help. God is warning him to remain calm and not fear his immediate problems. Politically it would be a wise move. Assyria is focused on Egypt. They would take the main coastal route down to Egypt so if Ahaz remained quiet, he would not come to Assyria’s attention. Ahaz saw Rezin and Pekah as major problems, but God saw them as smoldering sticks from a fire that was about to go out. God assures Ahaz that Rezin and Pekah would not succeed. They rule their own territories but the capital of Damascus would be shattered and Israel would fall in 65 years. But God warns Ahaz that if he doesn’t believe God, he won’t last either.
Samaria was destroyed in 722 B.C. by Shalmaneser V. And 65 years later, King Esarhaddon brought in foreigners to settle the land of Israel (Ezra 4:2).
Proof of God’s Message - Isaiah 7:10-16
God offers Ahaz to name any sign that he would like to boost his confidence in the accuracy of what God was saying, but Ahaz refuses. He claimed that he would not test the Lord. It sounds noble, but it is God who told Ahaz to pick a sign and Ahaz doesn’t want evidence that God is right. God had called Himself Ahaz’s God, by refusing, he was trying God’s patience. We need to remember that Ahaz was worshiping idols (II Kings 16:3-4). In truth, Ahaz had already decided to appeal to Assyria for aid and he didn’t want inconvenient evidence that his decision was wrong.
God selects His own sign, not for Ahaz but for the House of David: a virgin will bear a son whose name will be “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The child would eat curds and honey – an indication that the child would grow up in poverty. This is also a hint to Ahaz that his house would eventually be reduced to poverty. Long before this special child reaches his teenage years, Rezin and Pekah will be gone and their land forsaken. Unlike Ahaz, the child will know to refuse evil and choose good.
What Will Happen When Ahaz Appeals to Assyria - Isaiah 7:17-25
The succession of the northern ten tribes from Israel was a devastating blow to Judah, but it will be nothing compared to what is going to happen to Ahaz, his people, and their descendants.
God is going to call Egypt to invade Judah, but they are going to be like flies and Assyria is going to be like a bee. In truth, the presence of the Egyptian army became the bait to draw the Assyrians down to attack. Assyria is going to come an occupy every nook and cranny in Israel. God is temporarily hiring Assyria to be a barber and shave Israel of her people, leaving her in an embarrassing state.
The people left in the land will be reduced to poverty. A family might have a cow and a pair of sheep from which they will live off the milk produced. They will have enough to feed everyone, but there will be no luxury. Without people, the vineyards full of expensive vines will fail and be filled with brambles. There won’t be enough people to farm, but they will have plenty of pasture land.