Bible Study: Isaiah 7:1-25
Today's lesson covers a demonstration of God's mercy and a prophecy of the coming of Christ.
Isaiah Chapter 7
Lessons from the text
Mercy on the Ungodly
Four generations removed from revival, Ahaz King of Judah dives head first back into idolatry. He made his children pass through the fire, built groves for worship of false gods, and saw no problem in taking God's treasures out of the Temple to make room for a an altar to a god from Damascas. He also replaced the brazen altar made for sacrifices to God with an idol image. (II Ki 16:1-18, II Chro 28:1-25) Yet God had mercy on Jerusalem during his time, protecting Judah from Pekah and Assyria.
Why would God spare Ahaz? Why would He fight for Ahaz?
Back in II Samuel 7:8-17, God promised David that His mercy would not depart from his house. God was still honoring that promise, centuries after David had passed on.
How many prayers will God honor after we die?
We may never see God move on that special prayer request in our lifetime. But God is faithful, God is true, and He will always keep His promises. So pray on!
Are You an Ox or Cow?
God concludes his prophecy with the statement that the hills that shall be digged will be for the sending forth of oxen and for the treading of lesser cattle (v 25). The ox works. The lesser cattle grazes.
If those who do not the work of God are considered "lesser cattle," I want to always be doing the work for which God has called me. I would hate to meet Jesus at the end of my life and have Him be ashamed of me and call me a "lesser cattle."
Jesus told us to "take up your cross" (Mt 16:24). While we are saved by faith, each of us is gifted with and expected to act on a unique ability. For me, that means teaching God's word. For you, it may be a stay home mother. It may be a baker, a volunteer, a construction worker, a lawyer. Whatever your unique gift and calling, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called" (1 Cor 7: 20). Just don't be a grazer only... Be and OX!
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1-2 The two greatest enemies of Israel during Ahaz's time join together to march to Jerusalem. Ahaz could not handle the fear this created, as his heart was shaken like tree limbs in the wind.
3 God takes pity on Ahaz and Judah and sends Isaiah for encouragement.
4-7 God knew in detail the plot against Judah, and He said that it would not come to pass. We are encouraged in God who perceives every snare set for us and is able deliver us. People can make whatever plans they chose, but if God stands opposed, it will never come to pass.
8-9 God said that within sixty-five years Ephraim, Samaria, and Pekah would be destroyed. Pekah was the second to last king of Israel. He reigned a total of twenty years (II Ki 15:22), and his usurper reigned nine years with a nine year gap between Pekah's assassination and Hosea being declared the next king (II Ki 17:1). Ahaz did not began to reign until Pekah's seventeenth year (II Ki 16:1).
If we assume that Pekah attacked Jerusalem in the first year of Ahaz's reign, that makes twenty-one years the longest possible span between God's decree and the actual captivity of Samaria. If Pekah waited until the last year of his reign to attack Ahaz, then would make the span only eighteen years. Either way, God's decree was meant to encourage Ahaz to not fear his enemies because God would soon destroy them.
9 God concludes His prophetic decree with the statement that "If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established." Samaria would be destroyed because they did not believe. (Their idolatry can be found in II Kings 17:1-19.) God has promised that if we do not accept Him and believe on Him, we will sooner or later be destroyed. Compare with John 3:16-21.
10-25 God switches to a prophetic description of the time of Christ.
10-13 Ahaz did not know God. He could not discern between a test from God and a legitimate offer. God's response shows that He wanted Ahaz to ask for the sign and was not testing him.
14a When Ahaz failed to do the will of God, God took charge. No matter what, God's will shall be done.
14b-15 Immanuel means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). This prophecy is fulfilled in Mary the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-33). Jesus would be nurtured on the sweetest and best of spiritual foods so that He would be well-equipped to face evil and turn from it, alluding to the fact that Jesus would be tempted with sin yet remain sinless (recall the temptation in the wilderness described in Matthew 4:1-11).
16 Before Christ would be born, Israel and Judah would loose their kings. This was fulfilled when Shalmaneser King of Assyria destroyed Samaria (II Ki 17:3-4) and Nebuchadnezzer King of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem (II Ki 25:1-9). After these events, no king set on either throne. Even today, the reunited Israel functions under a democratic-republic, having a president just like us in the United States.
17-20 God proclaims the king of Assyria will come against Israel. This is not referring to the almost immediate war between Assyria and the Northern Kingdom because our context is the events between the removing of both kings (Israel and Judah's kings) and the birth of Jesus. Therefore, this prophecy can be accurately interpreted as referring to the conquest of the Jews by Antiocus the Great of Syria in 204BC, which resulted in Israel becoming part of the Syrian-Greek empire.
In essence, Israel was trimmed with a razor and refashioned according to its new rulers. This tension is revealed when in the New Testament; we see Herod the Great juxtaposed to the political priest and the "traditional" Jews who still believed in Jehovah God.
21-22 God says that even in the mist of this trouble, Israel will have what it needs to survive (the two cows and sheep), and that there will still be good found. Verse 22 lets us know that the prophecy has caught up to the time of Christ's appearing. As Jesus Himself said concerning His time, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (Jn 4:35). The people were hungry and ready for God because they believed in Him. God is our milk and honey.
23 Describing Israel during Christ's day, God proclaims that where you would normally look for fruit there would be thorns. I believe that this is referring to the priests of Jesus' day. They were supposed to be feeding the people, but instead they were leading them away from God (Mt 23:13).
24 Because the land will be harsh and no fruit found, the people will come to the vineyards with arrows and bows. I believe this means that the people will be angry at the priests of Jesus' day because they are not providing the spiritual fruit the people need to survive.
25 Turning away from the vineyards, on the hills where people dig and work will they find a place for their cattle. Spiritually speaking, these hills will be for the sending forth of workers (the oxen) and a settling point for those who will not work (the lesser cattle).
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