Author: Ron Graham
This lesson takes a look at the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. In this lesson we look at the near future fulfillment, in the person of Isaiah's son. In our next lesson we will look at the fulfillment in the distant future from Isaiah's time, in the Person of God's Son. based on the words of Isaiah as quoted by Matthew, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (Matthew 1:23).
1 Dual fulfillment (near and distant future)
Isaiah 7:14 is an example of a class of prophecies in the Old Testament which appear to have a dual fulfillment, that is to say they predict something to take place in the near future which symbolises something greater that will take place in the distant future.
Another example is that of David’s son reigning on David’s throne. The promise God made to David (2Samuel 7:12-16) had elements of fulfillment in the near future, in the person of David’s son Solomon. However several important elements of the promise were not fulfilled by Solomon. The prophecy was looking past Solomon to the Christ of whom Solomon was only a symbol.
In the same manner, the promise to Ahaz through Isaiah had elements of fulfillment in the near future when a son Maher-shalal-hash-baz was born to Isaiah and his wife "the prophetess" (Isaiah 7:14, 8:1-3). However some important elements of the prophecy were not fulfilled by this son who was but a symbol of the distant-future coming of Messiah (the Christ).
2 Isaiah’s Son
Maher-shalal-hash-baz was Isaiah's second son. The first was Shear-Jashub (Isaiah 7:3).
Fortunately remembering their names is not a condition of going to heaven, however their names were meaningful...
- Shear-Jashub means "a remnant shall return".
- Maher-shalal-hash-baz means "Swift to the booty, speedy to the prey" (Isaiah 8:1-3).
These two names were names with a message and were a constant reminder to Isaiah of the burden of his prophetic word: Destruction and exile were coming, yet a remnant would return and be preserved. As Isaiah said, "Then a shoot will spring from the root of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit" (Isaiah 11:1-2). Jesse was David’s father. Although Israel, Judah, and the house of David were to be cut down like a tree, the trunk would shoot and a branch would grow and bear fruit. This of course refers to Jesus Christ. As already mentioned, the prophecy we are looking at (Isaiah 7:14) is also a prophecy about Christ as shown by Matthew (Matthew 1:23) But for now we are looking at its reference to Isaiah's son Mahershalalhashbaz
3 The Shaky King Ahaz
Isaiah’s second son Maher-shalal-hash-baz was born as a sign to Ahaz king of Jerusalem, as we shall now see...
Ahaz was not your best sort of king. Faith and courage were not his strong points. He was shaking with fear because Israel and Aram were getting together to attack Jerusalem (Isaiah 7:1-2).
The names in these verses may not be familiar to you, so this little table will help you get things straight...
Through Isaiah, God spoke with scorn about this plan of Syria and Israel, and promised Ahaz that "it shall not stand nor shall it come to pass". God told Ahaz that only a lack of faith could cause his downfall (Isaiah 7:3-9). But Ahaz was a man of shaky faith.
To help strengthen his faith, God told Ahaz to choose any sign he pleased, and to make it as high as heaven or as deep as Sheol. This seems to mean that God would have made the sun stand still for Ahaz, or raised the dead for him, to help him have faith. (Isaiah 7:11)
Foolishly, Ahaz refused to ask for a sign. Stupidly he saw obeying God’s instruction as testing the Lord! (Isaiah 7:12-13). This is a lesson to us, incidentally, that when God commands us to "keep on asking" (Matthew 7:7-8) we should do so and not to refuse or neglect to ask of God for all our needs. When Ahaz refused, God was angered; God really wanted him to ask (Isaiah 7:12-13).
So because Ahaz missed the opportunity, God did not make the sun stand still for Ahaz, or raise the dead for him. He did, however, give him a sign of a different sort...
4 The Sign for Ahaz
The sign God gave Ahaz was not a sign that would strengthen his faith, nevertheless it would be a warning and a reminder to him that a very hard time was coming his way because of his lack of faith. Not only would the two kings whom Ahaz feared so much be conquered by the king of Assyria, but the Lord would use Assyria to "shave with a razor" Jerusalem and its people (Isaiah 7:14-20).
Ahaz would know that before Isaiah's little boy was old enough to choose good and refuse evil, this disaster would happen. Watching Isaiah's boy grow, the king of Jerusalem would know that the king of Assyria was at hand, a foe far more to fear than the two paltry kings he had trembled at. The little boy’s very name would remind Ahaz that the king of Assyria was coming swift to the booty and speedy to the prey (Isaiah 10:5-7 2Chr 28:19-22).
Can we learn anything from this? There is a fact of nature that warns us constantly that Christ is coming “swift to the booty and speedy to the prey”. We don't have to look very far for a natural reminder of this. For Ahaz the sign of coming doom was a birth. For the world today, the sign is death. James reminds us of the obvious —that our life is a vapour that lasts for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14). Death is a natural sign, but a very powerful one. Don't ignore its implications!