A Sign, and a Messianic Hope, Isaiah 7 (lesson for April 26/May 3, 2006)

You'll do best to read all of chapter 7 before trying to answer these questions.

Part 1 - Different kinds of prophecy

As we get into this lesson, we need to think just a bit about different kinds of Messianic prophecy.

PROPHECIES NOT INVOLVING A SHADOW

There are some prophecies that are explicitly predictions of future events. That is, someone says, "Such and such is going to happen in the future." The statement is clearly and exclusively about the Messiah. An example of this is seen in Micah 5:2.

PROPHECIES INVOLVING A SHADOW

But most prophecies involve a shadow. That is, on one level, most messianic prophecies speak of something in Old Testament times even as they look forward to the Messiah.

Sometimes there is no prediction at all. That is, nothing is said explicitly about a future event. Rather the very existence of something, someone, or some event is intended to suggest what will come in the future.

Then again, some predictions that were made about the future were clothed in language that looked back to an already existing person, place, or thing, or event, which foreshadowed something about the coming Messiah.

And finally, some predictions first pertained to a coming (future) Old Testament person, place, event, but ultimately looked beyond that to the Messiah.

These prophecies that involve a shadow can be subcategorized into three groups:

  • Existence of the shadow
  • Prediction in terms of previously existing shadow
  • Prediction of future something that will be a shadow

Questions:

  1. Which of the above is illustrated by the tabernacle?
     
  2. Which of the above is illustrated by the statement in Ezekiel 37:24, "My servant David will be king over them."
     
  3. Which of the above is illustrated by 2 Samuel 7:12-13? (Note both 1 Chron. 22:6ff and Heb. 1:5)

We need to consider the various kinds of prophecy and determine which best describes the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14ff. We won't get that question fully resolved this week. But expect to have this all figured out by next week!

Part 2 - Ahaz' difficulty

Review the following questions we discussed in our very first lesson:

The reign of Ahaz (Read 2 Kings 16, 2 Chronicles 28)
  1. Who were his enemies according to 2 Chron. 28:5-6 and 2 Kings 16:5-6?
  2. Summarize events described in 2 Chron. 28:8-15.
  3. To whom did Ahaz look for help? (2 Kings 16:7-9)
  1. In Isaiah 7:1-2, we are told that what two kings came up against Jerusalem?
     
  2. According to verse two, to whom was this reported?
     
  3. What is meant by "the house of David"
     
  4. What was the reaction on the part of the house of David?
     
  5. Based on 2 Kings 16:7, to whom do you suppose Ahaz would turn for help?
     
  6. The Lord told Isaiah to go meet Ahaz and to take with him his son named ________________.
     
  7. What does that name mean?
     
  8. Who are the "two stubs of smoldering firebrands" mentioned in Isaiah 7:4?
     
  9. What is the point of calling them "stubs of smoldering firebrands"? Does that suggest they are powerful, or weak?
     
  10. According to Isaiah 7:6, what did Pekah and Rezin have in mind, and what would this mean for Ahaz personally? (Some of supposed their goal was to gain control of Judah by means of establishing a ruler there who was loyal to them, and thereby gain access to the resources and armies of Judah for use in their own war against Assyria.)
     
  11. What did God say about the outcome of the efforts of Pekah and Rezin? (7:7)
     
  12. Damascus was the capital of Syria and Samaria was the capital of Israel. What did God say about the future of Syria and Israel?

Part 3 - The sign that this message was from God and that these things would be accomplished

  1. What offer was made to Ahaz? (7:11)
     
  2. What was Ahaz' response? (7:12)
     
  3. Based on verse 13, do you think Ahaz response was regarded as reverent, or as irreverent?
     
  4. THOUGHT QUESTION: Why did Ahaz respond as he did?
     
  5. After Ahaz declined to specify a sign he would like to see, God himself determined the sign he would give to Ahaz. This sign is described in verse 14-16. What was it?
     
  6. The message concerning coming events continues on down to the end of chapter 7. Then in 8:3, we read about a child that a "prophetess" conceives by Isaiah. What is his name?
     
  7. What does that name mean?
     
  8. According to verse 4, why is that name given to him?
     
  9. There was a verse in chapter 7 that sounds very much like 8:4. What is that verse?
     
  10. In chapter 8:18, what did Isaiah say about himself and his sons?

Part 4 - Immanuel

  1. Specifically, it was said the child would be called Immanuel, and yet the child born in chapter 8 is first called Maher-shalal-hash-baz. What does Immanuel mean?
     
  2. Consider the meaning of the two names: Which one sounds like a warning, and which one sounds like a message of comfort?
     
  3. To understand these two messages of warning and comfort, we need to look at the rest of what was said to Ahaz in chapter 7. Remember that he had rejected God's offer for a sign, and remember that he was inclined to put his trust in Assyria rather than in God. Nonetheless, God had said the threat from Israel and Syria would come to nothing and that in fact, both of those kingdoms would fall to the Assyrians. However, God had an ominous message for Ahaz. Who would God bring against Ahaz? (7:17-18). How is this ironic?
     
  4. Who rejoiced in Rezin and the son of Remaliah? Who was Rezin? Who was the son of Remaliah? (8:6)
     
  5. Who would come against those people as a river? (8:7)
     
  6. That river would overflow and sweep into what place? (8:8)
     
  7. This land is described as whose land? (8:8)
     
  8. Nonetheless, these people of Judah (the land of Immanuel) could take heart (even if the house of Ahaz could not). Why? (8:10)

Part 5 - The Messianic significance

  1. Isaiah 7:14 is quoted in Mt. 2:23. Quote Matthew's introduction (2:22) of the prophecy.
     
  2. Was Mary a virgin in the sense of having never had sexual relations with a man up until the birth of Jesus? (Lk. 1:34, Mt. 1:18-20,  24-25).
     
  3. Clearly, Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus. But it also referred to the birth of the child described in Isaiah 8, and presumably, that child was not born of a virgin. Often, predictions in the Old Testament that first refer to Old Testament shadows are realized in a more literal in Christ than in the Old Testament shadow, and indeed, in a more literal way than might have been imagined. Shadows arenít identical to the real thing. The reality may make sharper, crisper, use of the language. J. W. McGarvey saw Mt. 1:23 as belonging to a category of fulfilled prophecy which he described as follows: "When an event which has been described in language more elevated and elaborate than it demands is followed by another similar event to which the said language is more perfectly suited." Consider each of the following Old Testament prophecies and describe how each one was realized in the Old Testament, and how each one was more literally realized in Christ, or how the language of the prophecy "more perfectly" suits the New Testament realization.

  4.  
    • Gen. 22:1 "your son, your only son"
       
    • 2 Sam. 7:14 "the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men"
       
    • Ps. 41:9    "who ate my bread"
       
    • Ps. 41:9 "in whom I trusted"
       
    • Ps. 22:16 "pierced my hands and my feet"
       
    • Ps. 22:18 "for my clothing they cast lots"
       
  5. Was Jesus literally than Maher-shalal-hash-baz born of a "virgin"?
     
  6. What does Immanuel mean? What was the significance of Maher-shalal-hash-baz being called Immanuel? Was Jesus more literally "Immanuel" than was Maher-shalal-hash-baz?
     
  7. Of the three types of prophetic shadows outlined at the beginning of this lesson, in which category does Isaiah 7:14 belong?