Did you know that once, a long time ago, Jesus was the exclamation point at the end of a sentence? He was the final “so there” of an argument? He was the Charlie Brown’s “Good Grief” of the prophet Isaiah?
I decided today to read back in Isaiah 7, where the prophecy of the Virgin Birth was located. The context made me laugh and wonder aloud. Ahaz is under siege. The city of Judah is being waited out by the kings of Aram and Israel (do not ask me about the whole Judah vs. Israel thing… no idea) and the people are worried. The sieging kings have made a treaty with Ephraim and this treaty has made the “hearts of Ahaz and the people were shaken, as trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” Isaiah is told to meet Ahaz and encourage him with a word of the Lord. A word basically saying, “Believe! Have faith! This will not come to pass, but only if you have faith!” Then Isaiah tells him to test the Lord. Let me rephrase that. The Lord tells Isaiah to tell Ahaz to test Him. Ahaz refuses, citing pious reasons. Reasons I’m sure I would have said in the same scenario…. “I will not put my Lord to the test!” Sounds good… unless the Lord is asking you to do it.
The Lord, thru Isaiah, lashes out with Jesus. He lashes out with faith, with future faith, with future deliverance and future glory. It’s such a small blip among so many pages, that it’s easy to miss the whole context. Easy to quote the part about the virgin birth and throw the rest of the passage out with the compost. Here’s my rewrite of what Isaiah said (I’ll follow it with the actual passage).
Isaiah: “Okay, okay, okay… listen to me pipsqueak. Human patience is only so long… Are you really trying the patience of God… my God… yours too?! Fine, here’s a sign. You want to worry about these so called ‘Kings’? Peh. The Lord himself is going to blow your mind. A virgin, got that… a virgin will give birth to a son and will call his name… wait for it. No stop shaking your head. They will call him “God’s Here” Immanuel. He’ll barely be eating by himself when he’ll know enough to choose not to do stupid stuff. Not to lie or cheat, but to be compassionate and give. And you know what?! Before even that happens, the two kings your pooping your pants about, will be dead. Their lands will be desert.” and so on.
Isaiah 7:13 – 16 – “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? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f] 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 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 rest of the passage is a bit more depressing. How the King of Assyria will come and be worse than any nightmare. But that’s for more scholarly folk to address.
The point of all this is that the Lord, through Isaiah, made a point of reference in the future based on Jesus. His plan for redemption was in full swing and the Lord of time was letting slip vital hints. Isaiah walked up to Ahaz and slapped him with Jesus. The virgin will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. One of my favorite names for Christ. God with us. God… with … us. Isaiah said to Ahaz, “Stop worrying. God’s coming.”
I’d love to see the look on Ahaz’s face. Would have been priceless. “God with us.”