Bible Question:

I am reading Isaiah chapters 7 and 8. I am intrigued with Isaiah 7:14-17 in light of 8:6-10. In the 7:14 passage, it seems unmistakably to be a reference to Jesus, born of the virgin. But verses 15-16 seem to call that into question. Also, the passage in chapter 8 seems to equate Immanuel with the nation of Israel. Although the sign given to Ahaz by the Lord is described in chapter 7, a virgin birth would not seem very relevant to Ahaz, while the defeat of nations by Israel (Immanuel) would be significant for Ahaz. The intriguing part for me is the injection of the last half of Isaiah 7:14 predicting the virgin birth into the rest of Isaiah's prophesy. It is like the virgin birth is dropped into this passage from out of nowhere. It cautions me to look for other out-of-nowhere passages like this that may have end-time significance. What are your thoughts?

Bible Answer:

Isaiah 7:10-12 states that the Lord offered King Ahaz a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. He could ask God for a sign – any sign. But he declined to do that.

Then the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!” Isaiah 7:10-12 (NASB)

Consequently, God gave him a sign. The sign was a promise of a child that would be born of a virgin sometime in the future. The promise had a short term fulfillment and a long term fulfillment. This is common in scripture.

Prophecy About the Coming of Elijah

One very clear example of such a prophecy is given in Malachi 4:5-6 about the coming of the prophet Elijah. In Malachi we are told that Elijah will come before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. That is a future event for which we are still waiting. Then in Matthew 17:10-13, we discover that Jesus told the disciples that Elijah would come at a future date and that Elijah had already come. That is, John the Baptist was a near fulfillment of the Malachi prophecy of a yet to be future coming. John had come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:16-17), but Elijah would come at some future date.

Prophecy About the Coming of Christ

Now lets return to the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 8:3-4 we discover that a prophetess gives birth to a son named Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Name him  Maher-shalal-hash-baz;  for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 8:3-4  (NASB)

This is the near term or secondary fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy. If we compare the prophecy in Isaiah 7:16 with that of Isaiah 8:3-6 we discover that Maher-shalal-hash-baz is the near term fulfillment. In Matthew 1:23 we discover that the primary fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, just like the Malachi 4:4-6 prophecy.

“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 1:23 (NASB)

Matthew 1:23 agrees with Isaiah 7:14 that Jesus is Immanuel. He is God with us. This is the long term fulfillment of the prophecy.

Immanuel Occurs Two More Times

Now let’s consider Isaiah 8:8. It reads,

Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through,
It will reach even to the neck;
And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. Isaiah 8:8  (NASB)

The word Immanuel occurred first in Isaiah 7:14. It was a statement of identity about the child. He was God.

In Isaiah 8:8 we discover that the same Hebrew word for Immanuel occurs again. This time the reader is told that Immanuel owns the Promised Land. That is, the land belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the future He will reign as king. The land is His now and in the future.

In Isaiah 8:10 the reader is told explicitly with three different Hebrew words, el am anahnu, that “God is with us.” The message is that God was with them and He was in control. They did not need to worry.

Conclusion:

The scriptures remind us that God is our creator. He owns everything, including the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) and all the gold and silver in the world (Haggai 2:8). God controls everything including the land. He nullifies the counsel of the nations, and He frustrates the plans of the peoples (Psalm 33:10 ). Our God is marvelous. I am glad that He is mine and I am His. That is, I believe in Him, and I am trusting Him for the forgiveness of my sins.

Suggested Links:

Peace With God
Is Isaiah 7:14-16 talking about Jesus?
What did Jesus mean when He said that Elijah had already returned?
What does Immanuel mean?