TO CHEW ON: “‘Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God, ask it either in the depth or in the height above.’
But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD.’” Isaiah 7:11,12
We have weak-faith Ahaz to thank for one of the Bible’s most often quoted messianic prophecies. Ahaz demurred when Isaiah asked him to name a sign confirming his faith that God would come through for Judah at this time of war with Syria and Israel (Isaiah 7:1,2).
Because Ahaz wouldn’t name a sign, Isaiah the prophet did. We have it recorded in the inspired words of Isaiah 7:14:
“‘Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.’”
The writer of my Bible’s study notes points out that the Hebrew word for virgin used here (‘almah) can mean either a “virgin” or a “young woman.” Given the dual meaning of “virgin,” the prophecy’s fulfillment during Ahaz’s time was quite feasible.
Scholars suggest that in the immediate this sign may have been fulfilled in the birth of Ahaz’s son Hezekiah. A real baby’s birth was the sign to Ahaz and Judah of Immanuel—“God with us” in their fight with the Syrian-Israeli coalition.
However, when these words are repeated in the New Testament (Matthew 1:23) we see that they also have a long-range prophetic aspect.
In Matthew and Luke (Luke 1:27) the Greek word for “virgin” (parthenos) means virgin. And so the meaning of Immanuel broadens, fulfilled in Jesus’ birth through the Virgin Mary. “Immanuel” comes to mean God with us—all of us—in the flesh of Jesus.
And we see that God uses human weakness, like Ahaz’s wimpy faith, to advance His plans and purposes.
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You that Your will is not stymied by our weak faith. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.