All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:22-25)
This Old Testament quote is from Isaiah 7. Let's look at the historical context:
1. Israel tries to conquer Judah but fails.
2. Israel and Judah used to be one nation but had split.
3. Judah is sorely frightened.
4. The Lord, through Isaiah, tells Ahaz, king of Judah, not to fear, because the plan will fail.
5. The two countries that are attacking Judah will be destroyed.
6. Isaiah gives Ahaz a sign that this will take place.
Now, before we break down the sign itself, how does the thwarted attack on Judah encourage us today?
1. The two enemies of the true church are the false church and the world, according to the book of Revelation.
2. Israel used to be one nation but divided into Israel and Judah.
3. The House of David (the true church) resides in Judah.
4. We today, as the true church, have two enemies, the world, which we know, and the false church, which we have trouble realizing.
5. We are frightened of this "false" church, because we say to ourselves, "what if it is the true church, and WE are the false church?"
6. Judah has the House of David, which means it has the true Jesus of the Bible, not a false Jesus.
7. Are you part of Judah?
8. Do you have faith in the Jesus of the Bible, even all the parts you don't like?
Verse nine tells us, "If you will not believe, you surely shall not last." These are the Lord's words for Ahaz, but these words, "If you will not believe, you surely shall not last," are also for anyone who wants to be in the true church. Only by faith is one saved. Ahaz actually shows himself to not believe by rejecting Isaiah's instruction to "ask for a sign." Isaiah says "your God" to Ahaz when instructing him, but when Ahaz rejects asking for a sign, Isaiah then refers to "my God." However, the prophecy itself should change Ahaz's heart.
Now for the prophecy. This sign would not take place for 500 years, long after Ahaz was dead, but the information itself was a good enough sign for him, because what it tells him, historically, is that God is with them and will never depart from the House of David. Not only that, but the messiah will indeed come from the House of David. The prophecy goes on for several verses, each more encouraging than the last, for Ahaz. For us, the critical verse is 7:14, so let's look at that.
1. This sign is obviously predicting the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ.
2. By the name "Immanuel" we are also given a clue to Christ's dual nature: fully God and fully man.
3. The words in Isaiah says, "she will call his name," but when Matthew writes to us, he says, "THEY shall call his name 'God With Us.'" This implies a deep faith in all believers.
4. Joseph is instructed by the angel, "you shall call his name..." Joseph is included in this faith.
5. Joseph has no more doubts, and with pure faith, he does exactly as the angel instructs.
One last part of the prophecy is usually glossed over:
He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:15-16)
1. Curds and honey implies heaven, the promised land, from where Immanuel comes.
2. Refusing evil and choosing good reveals an end to the curse brought on by Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we know, eating of the tree put all of mankind's will in bondage to sin. We would, and still will, always choose the evil. Christ frees us from that bondage, so that believers are now able to choose the good.
God is with us. Do you believe this? Do you call his name Immanuel? Is God with you? Do you believe in the Jesus of the Bible? Even the things about him that you don't like? Is your residence heaven? Are you an exile here? Do you not belong and long for something more? Are all your righteous deeds like filthy rags? Your righteous deeds will keep you from Christ unless you discard them and only seek and abide in His righteousness. Have faith. Abhor the evil and choose the Good. Choose Christ. God will give you the faith to do so. He has promised so.