by Terri Wagner
What a chapter. I knew I had reached my first I-don't-get-it moment with Isaiah, one of many I can tell you which has lead me on this quest to understand Isaiah better. A world-famous sign, a threatened city, an evil ruler, a prophet and his son! Sounds like a made-for-tv movie. Only when I read through, I was left with a lot of questions. Answers came. And disclaimer here: they are my answers not necessarily the answers.
Brief summary. Judah's King Ahaz was not a righteous man. He didn't bother too much with the God of Judah. He was busily preparing to defend Jerusalem from a most unholy alliance between Pekah, the king of Israel, and Rezin, the king of Aram. At an aqueduct of the Upper Pool, he is confronted by Isaiah, the Lord's prophet, and Isaiah's son Shear-Jashub. Isaiah tells him not to worry about the coming army, He, the Lord, will not let Jerusalem be destroyed by them. But it will fall to another group, and he names names, the Assyrians. Isaiah offers Ahaz a sign and Ahaz declines. Isaish gives it anyway...and it's a world-famous one about the child who will be born of a virgin and be called Immanuel. This child will eat curds and honey because basically that is all that will be left to eat and because of this he will know right from wrong. Isaiah then ends with a tragic description of what happens to Israel, Aram, and Judah.
Left me with a lot of questions. Why the pool? Why his son? Why a sign? Why did Ahaz refuse one? Why a prophecy that is literally centuries ahead of its time? What did curds and honey have to do with choosing the right? So off I went. Research, pondering, and praying brought some answers. Enough that I feel somewhat confident in moving forward to Isaiah 8.
Pekah and Rezin had been fairly successful in the outer lying areas of Judah, enough to prompt Ahaz to prepare defenses. It makes sense that in a desert area, he would be shoring up the water supplies. Perhaps also there would be more people around to hear the prophecy, since a remnant would be still be there in Judah when the prophecy came to pass. Isaiah's son's name means "a remnant will return." Evil men usually tend to demand a sign, and usually get one that they tend to regret. Ahaz wanted none of it. His refusal was not based on a humble I-shall-not-tempt-the-Lord, but more of a if-I-listen-I'll-have-to-acknowlege-god-and-change-my-life. Know anyone like that?
The prophecy was for the remnant although I am still not sure why it was given so many years in advance. On the back side of the prophecy (being centuries in the future from both Isaiah's sign and the actual event), I only know it happened just as Isaiah said it would. Perhaps it was a promise from the Lord that He would never forget Israel, and His arm would always be extended toward them. Now the curds and honey really stumped me for a while until I took in context. According to the rest of Isaiah's words to Ahaz, Judah would eventually be destroyed by the Assyrians. The remnant that would remain would endure very harsh circumstances. They would have no crops, no berries, no vines, just a few animals. Their young would be forced to live on curds and honey. So at a very young age, this child would know how to choose the right. I'm guessing here that in that time children were not considered to be that wise.
Not worthy of a commentary I know, but this is how I'm struggling to understand Isaiah.