Thursday, May 9, 2013

Isaiah 7: A Virgin Will Bear a Child

Isa 7:10-17 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test." And he 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. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria." ESV

This incident regarding King Ahaz of Judah provides the context for the most important prophecy in Isaiah: the Virgin birth of a son named Immanuel. While the context suggests that the virgin would be born in Isaiah's time, the reference to a virgin's birth seems almost incidental. The gist of the message is the time-frame when the "land whose two kings you dread will be deserted"--viz., roughly about two years which is when "the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good". However, Isaiah's reference to a virgin birth and the name of the son as "Immanuel" is understood in the NT as a reference to Mary and her firstborn son: "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel'-which means, 'God with us'" (Matt 1:22-23). 

It is interesting that a messianic prophecy occurs in the context of a military crisis confronting Ahaz King of Judah. God's Word to us is often embedded in ordinary events and we need to have the revelation of the Spirit to discern what God is speaking. We often miss what God is saying to us in ordinary events because we think that God's word is confined to the Bible. Jesus says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). I have always understood this verse to refer to the power of discerning God in ordinary affairs of life. We have so compartmentalized our spiritual life (weekend) from the secular life (weekdays) that we no longer expect to hear from God in the daily work-a-day interactions with others, including people we think are ungodly.

Isaiah's words of prophecy came in the context of persuading an ungodly king to trust in God. In 2 Kings 16:2-4, we read that Ahaz "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. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree." And yet it was in the context of the conversation with an ungodly king that the messianic prophecy concerning the virgin birth came.

So, we need to keep our hearts pure (cleansed) so that we can see God in the workplace. If we cannot see God in our weekday interactions at work and play, then we have turned our God into a Weekend God, much like a Weekend Car--something we take out for a ride only on weekends.

Father, I thank You that You are not a Weekend God. You are there in our workplace, in our interactions with non-Christian colleagues, in our business meetings and in our business dealings. Help us to hear what Your Spirit is saying in the midst of these meetings. Amen.

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