When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it. Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “ ‘It will not take place, it will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin. Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ ” Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.” – Isaiah 7:1-17
There is a lot going on in this passage and it ends with one of the most familiar prophetic verses in Isaiah. I feel like I am staring at a class IV rapid and I am not sure my raft is up to the task…but here goes. This passage apparently occurs near the time described back in 2 Kings 18:17-22, when there were Assyrians at the same aqueduct trying to convince Hezekiah that he should follow them rather than God.
Isaiah and his son are asked by God to meet King Ahaz at the aqueduct to discuss what he should do about the conflict and clan warfare swirling around him: ““Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field”. It is interesting that God directs Isaiah and his son to meet Ahaz at an important water supply for the city. The conversation they have is very much about where Jerusalem, and all those who seek to follow God, are to get their “water”.
King Ahaz is leading the people in Jerusalem and he is under siege from fellow Israelites from the north and the Assyrians from the northeast (present day Iraq and Iran). The fellow Israelites want Ahaz to join their alliance to fight the Assyrians. Just like Hezekiah, Ahaz is given a choice to trust God or the power of this world in the form of armies and weapons. God predicts the failure of the coalition from the north, but Ahaz is hesitant to believe this prediction. God offers to provide a sign for Ahaz, but Ahaz does not want to put God to the test: ““I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” This is interesting logic. It seems to me by rejecting the prophecy Ahaz is saying he does not trust Isaiah or God. He is not willing to believe God and Isaiah.
This is where it gets familiar. Isaiah says a sign will be given: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right”. This verse is familiar to most followers of Christ as a prophetic reference to the Messiah, Jesus. It is not at all clear when this event was to occur, just that it is to be a sign. It is implied that the sign was meant for Ahaz, but that does not mean that it was not meant for future readers of these words as well.
The idea that God could be with us, Immanuel, is not exactly new. God has been with the Israelites and caring for them all along. His presence has been in the form of a cloud most of the time, and occasionally in the form of a burning bush. What is new here is that the “God with us” will do something as mundane as eating curds and honey. He will also apparently be subject to the same spiritual battle over right and wrong that we all experience as our souls ride along in our earthly vessels: “before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right”.
It is still a bit of a mystery to me why God chose to arrive in this way, but I am convinced that He did, in fact, do so and it was for a very important reason. God came to show us the way to pilot and navigate using these earthly containers for our souls we call bodies. He felt pain, chose between right and wrong, and did so in a way that teaches us how to navigate through this land of oblivion so that we can arrive safely some day at the undiscovered country that is with Him.
Prayer: God thank You for coming to be with us and showing us the way to steer our earthly vessels so that we arrive at Your desired destination.