Sermon Notes & References

God’s Double Sign

Isaiah 7:10-17

December 8, 2019

1.  Introduction

     a.  The Wonder of the Incarnation

     b.  The Passage Before Us Footnote

2.  King Ahaz

     a.  His Character Footnote

     b.  His Times Footnote

     c.  His Actions Footnote

3.  God’s Covenant Promise

     a.  The Occasion

     b.  To David & His Descendants Footnote

4.  The Wonder Sign

     a.  God’s Gracious Offer (11)

     b.  Ahaz’ Response (12-13)

     c.  Its Meaning (14-15)

5.  Conclusion

     a.  The Result of This Truth

     b.  A Cause to Wonder and Rejoice

Endnote  Isaiah 7:10-17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  God's Double Sign


1.  Introduction

     a.  The Wonder of the Incarnation

          i.   Lord willing. this Sunday, and the next two, we shall be pursuing this theme in our messages

          ii.  that the Eternal, the Creator God, should in the Person of God the Son

          iii.  set aside His glory and His rights to be born as a man

                (1) to make God known to His creation

                (2) and enable man to know God through the cross

          iv. which truth, the more you consider it, is a wonder beyond all human comprehension


     b.  The Passage Before Us

          i.   is an OT prophecy of the Incarnation

                (1) a fact which we know because the angel uses it to convince Joseph that he should marry Mary to be the legal father of her Child:

                (2) 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, 23 ‘behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ (Matthew 1:20-23)

          ii.  but to realise the full force of that prophecy

                (1) all that underlay the angel’s use of the passage

                (2) the fullness of its description of this Child

                (3) we need to look back to the circumstances under which it was originally uttered, and the man to whom it was spoken, King Ahaz.


2.  King Ahaz

     a.  His Character

          i.   King Ahaz was king of the Judah,

                (1) this was the name of two southern tribes that remained loyal to the family of David when the ten northern tribes split off from them

                (2) Israel, those northern tribes, had quickly fallen away from following the Lord due in part to the practices introduced by its first king, Jeroboam the son of Nebat

                (3) while Judah, where the temple and its worship was, had nominally followed the Lord

          ii.  but Ahaz made no such pretension

                (1) 1 ¶ In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king. 2 Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David had done. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out from before the sons of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.” (2 Kings 16:1-4)

                (2) Ahaz was an evil king; as a king he was more in tune with the kings of Israel that those of Judah, but even in Judah he was not the worst king they had – but he comes very close to the top of the list


     b.  His Times

          i.   were troublesome politically for Judah

          ii.  in 2 Kings 15:37 we read, “In those days the Lord began to send Rezin king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah against Judah.

          iii.  and in 2 Kings 16:5-6, “5 ¶ Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to wage war; and they besieged Ahaz, but could not overcome him. 6 At that time Rezin king of Aram recovered Elath for Aram, and cleared the Judeans out of Elath entirely; and the Arameans came to Elath and have lived there to this day.

          iv. God was using the heathen nation of Aram or Syria along with the back-slidden nation of Israel to chastise wayward Judah

          v.  a practice which God has done since, and even now, using unbelievers to reprimand believers whose love for Him has grown cold


     c.  His Actions

          i.   how did Ahaz, king of Judah, respond to these attacks?

          ii.  he had his own plans and he put them into action

          iii.  2 Kings 16:7-8, “7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, ‘I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.' 8 Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king's house, and sent a present to the king of Assyria.”

          iv. he took himself, as it were, away from the heat only to put himself in the fire – he not only turned away from the Lord but also refused to believe His promises.


3.  God’s Covenant Promise

     a.  The Occasion

          i.   now Judah was heir to the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that God would bless them and give to them and to their descendants the land of Canaan

          ii.  but when King David proposed to build a house to the Lord

                (1) God sent Nathan to tell him that God didn’t need a house

                (2) nor had He ever asked His people to build Him a house

                (3) but contrariwise, God would build a house for David


     b.  To David & His Descendants

          i.   11b … and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. 12 ‘When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, 15 but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.’” (2 Samuel 7:11-16)

          ii.  note first that part of this promise is specific to Solomon

                (1) that he would build a house – the temple – the the Lord

                (2) that God would correct him when he sins by the hand of man

                (3) that his throne would be forever

                (4) and by this last so indicates that the same conditions would apply to subsequent kings descended from Solomon – Ahaz being one

                (5) yet there was also an unconditional aspect of this promise, of an eternal throne and kingdom

          iii.  which gives this context to God’s words to Ahaz in Isaiah 7

                (1) Rezin’s and Pekah’s attacks on Judah were God correcting Ahaz

                (2) Rezin and Pekah would not destroy the throne of David because God had promised it would be forever

                (3) indeed, as verse 8 says, within 65 years Aram and Syria will no longer exist as national powers

                (4) the sign given went beyond the natural, national kingdom of Judah to that eternal throne and kingdom


4.  The Wonder Sign

     a.  God’s Gracious Offer (11)

          i.   God has already told Ahaz in the earlier verses of this chapter that the plans of Rezin and Pekah will not stand; and if Ahaz will not believe this, then he would not last.

          ii.  maybe through the mouth of Isaiah, God continues to speak to this king of His people in gracious condescension in two ways, verse 11: “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” (Isaiah 7:11)

          iii.  first, He identifies Himself to Ahaz as ‘the Lord your God’

                   (1)  not to Ahaz as his sovereign, Adonai, but as Yahweh, the God who had established a covenant with Abraham, with David and with their descendants of which Ahaz was one 

                (2) “you may be sinful and rebellious, Ahaz, but I am a gracious God and my covenant with you still stands”

          iv. second, He gives Ahaz a carte blanche – that is a signed piece of paper on which the recipient can write his own demands and have them met

                (1) he lays our the whole gamut of possibilities – from hell to heaven

                (2) Ahaz is commanded to ask whatever he would as a sign that He will keep His people – a sign having limitless scope


     b.  Ahaz’ Response (12-13) – “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”

          i.   unlike his own Ba’als, Ahaz knows Israel’s God of Israel can meet any challenge he could give – history has made that clear

          ii.  but then he must change his God-less plan to seek Assyria’s help

          iii.  hypocritically he tries to make it sound religious, not to put God to the test

          iv. well it is one thing to waste the prophet Isaiah’s time – he had been called to preach to deaf ears and blind eyes – but it is another to waste God’s – “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?” verse 13, so God answers!


     c.  It’s Meanings (14-16)

          i.   “Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” – perhaps better, “the virgin will ...”, as we shall see.

                (1) Ahaz was given the opportunity to ask any such sign as he would

                (2) but, refusing that, he shall have to accept the sign of God’s design and to God’s purpose

                (3) the application for Ahaz is that in the period of time it took for a virgin to conceive, bear a son, give him a name showing God’s presence with Judah, and grow to years of understanding – at least with respect of what to eat or not, the present threat and the kings causing it should have ceased

          ii.  now this prophecy is very specific: it is literally, ‘the virgin’; in fact the Hebrew can even be translated, ‘this virgin’

                (1) so that some believe that Isaiah was pointing to a specific one, or making reference to a specific one within the royal household, that shortly would marry and give birth to a son

                (2) perhaps on the strength of Isaiah’s words, give the child that name

                (3) even as Isaiah’s own children had been given names to illustrate other prophetic utterances he made

                (4) which could very well be possible, giving visual evidence to Ahaz as time passed that God did carry out His promise to His timetable

          iii.  but there is one false teaching that must be refuted lest any of you ever should hear it: to wit, an actual miraculous virgin birth then occurred

                (1) the words do not require it, the Bible does not record it

                (2) it would have meant a Divine child, just like Jesus, entering the world without original sin, which was true of only two men: the first Adam so created by God; God’s only begotten Son, Jesus

                (3) thus, for the reasons given and many more which we shall not now argue, that idea must be thrown out

          iv. but the context of this sign

                (1) namely, the reason that Aram and Israel would not destroy Judah

                (2) because of God’s covenant with David that from his descendants there would arise an eternal throne and kingdom

                (3) gives to this sign

                     (a) which was not of Ahaz’ choice, but of God’s

                     (b) speaking beyond Ahaz’ current concern but to God’s ultimate and eternal concern

                (4) a reference to another virgin, Mary

                     (a) and another child, the little Lord Jesus

                     (b) for another and eternal purpose, the salvation of mankind

                     (c) with which the angel could give assurance to the perplexed Joseph, engaged to that virgin, Mary

          v.  the wonder of it all being

                (1) that the Lord God Almighty should enter into the stream of humankind as the child – the Christ-Child – the Messiah-Child

                (2) in order to provide the perfect means whereby mankind could be re-established in their original purpose of fellowship with God

                (3) which Adam and Eve had rejected by their disobedience in Eden

                (4) and men and women ever since by their own choice have rejected.


5.  Conclusion

     a.  The Result of This Truth

          i.   is that Jesus, the Christ

          ii.  was born of a virgin by God’s Holy Spirit without original sin

          iii.  could be the perfect Sacrifice to bring us forgiveness from sin

          iv. was indeed, in His earthly ministry, Immanuel: God with us

          v.  and is still, in Christ’s mutual abiding in us: God with us

          vi. and shall be through all His eternal kingdom: God with us


     b.  A Cause to Wonder and Rejoice!