Summary: The prophecy of the virgin in Isaiah 7 has been denied by many religious "experts". But what does their denial say about them... and what does it tell us about what the prophecy actually said?
OPEN: There’s a story told about a man who was a very militant atheist but he sent his son to Trinity School because, despite its Christian roots, it was a great school. After a month, the boy comes home and says casually,
"By the way Dad, do you know what Trinity means? It means the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
The father barely controlled his rage. He seized his son by the shoulders and declared,
"Danny, I’m going to tell you something right now and I want you never to forget it. There is only one God and we don’t believe in Him!"
APPLY: Now, that’s the kind of attitude you’d expect from committed Atheist.
But, by contrast, King Ahaz in our story today was a very religious man.
He worshipped a multitude of gods… but not the God of Israel.
He WAS religious.
He just wasn’t religious toward the God of his fathers – Jehovah.
And because Ahaz rejected the LORD… II Chronicles 28:19 tells us:
“The LORD had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful the LORD.”
Ahaz reigned in Israel for 16 years and made every effort to destroy the religious foundations of the nation of Judah.
• He shut the gates of the temple, and melted down the Temple vessels for the gold and silver in them.
• He offered burnt incense on high places throughout Judah (which the Law explicitly condemned).
• And he set up altars on his roof so he could worship the stars, moon and sun.
II Kings 16:2-4 tells us “… Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.”
Isaiah 8:19 even implies that Ahaz also sought to speak with the dead to find out his future. (pause) Well, now his future has come knocking on his door.
And at the time of Isaiah 7, Ahaz is in serious trouble.
Two of his arch-enemies - Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the king of Israel had marched against Judea and were even now at very the gates of Jerusalem. These nations had gone to war against Ahaz in the past and Judah was suffered terribly for it.
* 120,000 of Ahaz’s soldiers were killed in a single day
* and 200,000 more of his people had been carried into captivity.
Now Rezin and Pekah are preparing to come back for seconds, and Ahaz is afraid.
He’s decided his best option was to look for an ally that was big enough to help him defeat his enemies, and he believes the best candidate is to the north.
He appeals to Tiglath Pileser, the King of the Assyrians, for help.
This was a really bad idea.
Assyria was an extremely vicious and wicked nation.
Additionally… it turned out that when Ahaz DID form his alliance with Assyria the alliance did him more harm than good. “Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him and distressed him, and did not assist him.” 2 Chronicles 28:20
Assyria never even helped Ahaz defeat his enemies.
In fact, King Ahaz ended up paying “protection money” to Assyria to protect his nation from Assyria’s soldiers, and Judah became a vassal state.
But before Ahaz sealed his bargain with Assyria, God wanted to offer him another option.
God sent Isaiah and has him tell Ahaz that first: the invasion will never happen.
Neither Rezin nor Pekah would live another two years.
And sure enough: within that period of time, both were assassinated.
2ndly God offered Ahaz assurance that he would do as He promised:
He tells Ahaz: ask me for a sign – any sign. It can be as deep as the depths of the sea, or as high as the heavens. Just ask for a sign so that you’ll know I’ll do what I say
JUST DON’T MAKE THE CONTRACT WITH ASSYRIA!
But Ahaz turns God down.
He gives a pious excuse "I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test." Isa 7:12
But Ahaz has never been a pious man – he truly hates the God of Israel.
So… he just politely tell Isaiah – and his God - to go take a hike.
Ahaz didn’t really believe Isaiah’s God could do anything, so he’s not interested.
He’s just like the atheist who said he doesn’t believe in God.
The only difference is that Ahaz has the trappings of being religious (many gods)… but as far as the God of Israel goes Ahaz doesn’t believe. He’s a practical atheist.