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PJSFaithAs we look at the geopolitical actors on the world stage today, we see great similarity to the events that transpired in Isaiah’s time.

We have noted that chapter 7 begins in 734 B.C., when the world was dominated by the Assyrian Empire. It was ultimately the threat posed by this superpower (which had been visited by Jonah roughly 50 years earlier and would be denounced by Nahum almost 90 years later) that led both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah to choose the strategies that we see playing out in this chapter.

Israel selected to form an alliance with Syria in the hopes of holding off the threat from Assyria, while Judah took the opposite approach and endeavored to unite with Assyria. Both strategies ultimately proved futile. Assyria took the northern kingdom off into captivity in 722 B.C. and, humanly speaking, it would never be reconstituted (cf. 2 Kings 17:23).

[1] Assyria also tormented the southern kingdom, as exemplified in Isaiah 36 and 37, until her demise at the hands of Babylon in 612 B.C.—the backdrop to the book of Daniel.

Ahaz’s ill-fated attempt to gain favor with Assyria is detailed in 2 Kings 16:7-18 and 2 Chronicles 28:16-21. Not only did this strategy fail to help Judah, it also served to inflame Israel and Syria even more in their antagonism against the southern kingdom.

In Isaiah 7:4, God through His prophet enlightens Ahaz’s darkness—if only he had spiritual eyes to see it. His earthly enemies were not his real problem, and Assyria was surely not the solution. He had no need to “fear or be fainthearted,” and the kings that represented the oppressing nations were mere “stubs of smoking firebrands.” In fact, the name of the king of Israel was not even deserving of mention in light of the means by which he had ascended to the throne (cf. 2 Kings 15:25). He was totally insignificant in the sight of God.[2]

Verses 5 and 6 detail a Satanic conspiracy to destroy the Davidic line, through which the Messiah would come to earth, and “set a king” whose name means “worthless” in the place of Ahaz.

Isaiah once again rebukes these claims—coming, as we might say, straight from the pit of hell—in the most dramatic fashion in verses 7 and 8.

Isaiah next gives Ahaz an implied comparison. Syria’s capital is Damascus and her king is Rezin. Ephraim’s capital is Samaria and her king is Pekah. Each of them end there—infinitely beneath the true “head” of Judah, which is the LORD God Himself, connected to Judah through everlasting covenants that will never be broken.

The last portion of verse 9 offers a play on words—based on our word that is transliterated “Amen,” which is used twice. If Ahaz had said “Amen” to God’s promises, God would have said “Amen” to Ahaz. The same truth, using the same play on words, is stated positively (as opposed to the way it is stated negatively here) by Jehoshaphat in 2 Chron. 20:20.

The headless kingdoms of Israel and Syria are a picture of people in our world today—wandering “like sheep not having a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).

The northern kingdom was headed for destruction “within sixty-five years” (Isa. 7:8).[3]

Would Ahaz learn anything from this amazing confrontation which took place “at the end of the aqueduct” (Isa. 7:3)? Would he ever be prepared to receive Isaiah’s Christmas prophecies?

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Copyright © 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Following the captivity, the Assyrians transported Gentiles into the land (cf. 2 Kings 17:24-28; Ezra 4:9-10). They intermarried with those who were left there, leading to the development of the ethnic group known as the Samaritans of the New Testament. Descendants of all 12 tribes continued to exist, but they traced their allegiance primarily to the southern kingdom following the Assyrian Captivity—so that all Israelites could be called “Jews” from that time on. In God’s mind, the identities of all 12 tribes are still preserved and all will one day be restored to service and blessing (cf. James 1:1; Rev. 7:4-8). See the excellent summary provided in the note for James 1:1 by John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible ESV (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), p. 1,876.

[2] One of the great mysteries of the Old Testament—particularly for the dispensationalist—is the manner in which God condescended to show a measure of respect to the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel, who had no covenantal claims to their positions at all. This is an issue within the text that appears to have rarely been explored and for which much work yet remains to be done. It was brought to the author’s attention through personal conversations with Dr. John C. Whitcomb.

[3] Pekah would be dead within several short years of these events (<>; Internet; accessed 11 Dec. 2015). The Holman Bible Dictionary reports: “Rezin died in 732 B.C. when Damascus fell to the Assyrians” (<>; Internet; accessed 11 Dec. 2015). Ahaz’s own death is recorded in 2 Kings 16:20 and 2 Chronicles 28:27, with few other other notable aspects of his record to recount outside of this conflict with Israel and Syria.