Matthew 1:23 "Behold, the virgin (young maiden) shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us”). |
At the onset of his ministry the prophet Isaiah sees an awe-inspiring vision of the throne room of God. Isaiah’s vision is complete with smoke, fire and shaking; it seems reminiscent of the Horeb oracle. Isaiah becomes so overwhelmed by what he sees that he right away confesses his unworthiness. A seraphim (a burning one) then applies a burning coal from the altar of incense in front of God’s throne to the prophet’s mouth in order to remove his iniquity. Thus like others after him, Isaiah is made ready to become one Israel’s main prophets, a messianic prophet at that.
Ahaz King of Judah frets like a leave in the wind because Remaliah the king of Israel has allied himself with Pekah King of Aram to fight the realm of Judah. God needs a messenger to encourage King Ahaz (as wicked as he was) to trust Him and Isaiah volunteers even though he is told that he will not be heeded. The Almighty says to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven."(Ahaz could choose whatever sign he wanted to show that God would not let Judah perish. God doesn’t often issue a blank check like that!);. But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test."And he (the Lord) said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. (God chooses the sign anyways; we are not really allowed to refuse God!) Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:11-14). This son was to be born of the young wife of Ahaz and become good king Hezekiah, a prophecy used by Matthew to describe the advent of Messiah.
Whereas Hezekiah was not the Messiah, the prophecy does look into the future. Isaiah is asked to take with him his son Shear-Jachub on his visit to King Ahaz. Shear-Jachub in Hebrew means ‘a remnant will return’. Less than a hundred years after the coming of Messiah, Israel was scattered, and like after each dispersion, only a remnant returns.
We have in this story a remarkable event confirming to us the Father’s eternal virtue of covenant-loyalty in spite of our sinful rebellious nature. Ahaz who practiced idolatry and even sacrificed his children in high places had become one of the worst kings of Judah. Yet God appealed to him for repentance and trust in Him in order to save Judah. When Ahaz defiantly refused to put his trust in God, God decided to give him a sign of assured victory anyways: the sign of the coming of Messiah.
Until this day the sign of the young Nazarene maiden who gave birth is with us. In spite of our wretched nature we can look at it as unto a promise of salvation and restoration. May we not be like King Ahaz though who partook of the grace and compassion of God while all the time despising it. Maybe this story is to remind us that our redemption is purely by virtue of the mercy of "God (who) so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Related Articles -
Almah, prophecy, virgin, Ahaz, King of Israel, prophecy, Messianic,