Isaiah 8:1-22 NIV
Isaiah and His Children as Signs
1The LORD Said to me, “Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.”a 2So I called in Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah as reliable witnesses for me. 3Then I made love to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And The LORD said to me, “Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. 4For before the boy knows how to say ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the plunder of Samaria will be carried off by the king of Assyria.”
5The LORD Spoke to me again:
6“Because this people has rejected
the gently flowing waters of Shiloah
and rejoices over Rezin
and the son of Remaliah,
7therefore The Lord is about to bring against them
the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates—
the king of Assyria with all his pomp.
It will overflow all its channels,
run over all its banks
8and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it,
passing through it and reaching up to the neck.
Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel !
Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
10Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
propose your plan, but it will not stand,
For GOD Is with us.
11This is what The LORD Says to me with His strong Hand upon me, Warning me not to follow the way of this people:
12“Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
13The LORD ALMIGHTY Is The ONE you are to regard as HOLY,
HE Is The ONE you are to fear,
HE Is The ONE you are to dread.
14HE Will Be a Holy Place;
for both Israel and Judah HE Will Be
a STONE that causes people to stumble
and a ROCK that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem HE Will Be
a Trap and a Snare.
15Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”
16Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up GOD’S Instruction among my disciples.
17I will wait for The LORD,
Who is hiding HIS Face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in HIM.
18 Here am I, and the children The LORD Has Given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from The LORD ALMIGHTY, WHO Dwells on Mount Zion.
The Darkness Turns to Light
19When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their GOD? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
20Consult GOD’S Instruction and the Testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this WORD, they have no light of dawn.
21Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their KING and their GOD. 22Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
In Isaiah 7 the prophet had told Ahaz that GOD Would Give him a sign that the land of Judah should be safe from the threatened invasion of the united armies of Syria and Israel.
In this chapter Isaiah 8, there is a record of the primary fulfillment of that promise, Isaiah 8:1-4. From Isaiah 8:5 to Isaiah 8:8, the prophet resumes and repeats what he had said before in Isaiah 7:17-25, that although the land should be safe from this invasion, yet one more formidable would occur by the armies of Assyria. The cause of this is stated to be, that Judah had despised the Lord, and had sought alliances with Syria and Israel.
The prophet then proceeds to exhort the people to put confidence in JEHOVAH - assuring them that if they refused to confide in HIM, they must expect to be destroyed, Isaiah 8:9-18; and the chapter concludes with denouncing punishment on those who looked to necromancers and diviners, rather than to The True GOD.
The prophecy is intimately connected with that in the previous chapter; and was delivered, evidently, not far from the same time.
Read the following article about "Immanuel".
The First Immanuel
Posted by September 28, 2013 on
“Therefore The LORD HIMSELF Will Give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a SON, and will call HIM IMMANUEL.” (Isaiah 7:14)
We are so used to hearing this verse as a reference to JESUS that most of us know nothing about its original context. As far as Isaiah and the people he spoke to were concerned, this prophecy had nothing to do with Mary and JESUS. In fact long before JESUS Was Born, Isaiah would have considered this prophesy to be fulfilled by another woman and another little boy named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Now you might be thinking, “How can that be? Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz doesn’t sound like Immanuel at all.” Well, neither does YESHUA, which means “GOD SAVES”. The only reason we associate this verse in Isaiah with JESUS is because Matthew connects the two in Matthew 1:23. If it weren’t for Matthew’s comment, we’d think that this prophecy was simply referring to little Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Now let’s learn why.
At this point in her history, the nation of Israel is divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Isaiah is living in the southern kingdom and in Chapter 7 we find him prophesying to King Ahaz, the current ruler of Judah. Ahaz is scared out of his wits. He’s just found out that the northern kingdom of Israel has formed an alliance with the kingdom of Aram (Syria). Now these two military powers are coming down to take Judah over and divide it amongst themselves. It’s two against one and after the first attack is launched against Judah’s capital city of Jerusalem, Ahaz figures his days are numbered. There’s no way he can win against these two armies. All the people of Judah are terrified.
Now GOD Sends HIS prophet Isaiah to go and speak to the king.
“Tell Ahaz, ‘Be careful. Be calm and don’t worry. Don’t let those two men, Rezin and Pekah son of Remaliah, scare you. Don’t be afraid of their anger or Aram’s anger, because they are like two barely burning sticks that are ready to go out.” (7:4)
“Rezin” is King Rezin of Aram (Syria). Pekah is the king of Israel, whose father was named Remaliah. GOD Is Saying “Those two guys are pathetic. Don’t be afraid of them. Stay calm and trust ME.”
HE Goes On To Say:
“‘Their plan will not succeed; it will not happen, because Aram is led by the city of Damascus, and Damascus is led by its weak king, Rezin. Within sixty-five years Israel will no longer be a nation. Israel is led by the city of Samaria, and Samaria is led by its weak king, the son of Remaliah. If your faith is not strong, you will not have strength enough to last.’” (v7-9)
GOD Is Saying “Don’t worry, these two kings won’t succeed in their plan to wipe you out.” HE then Mocks the power of both nations by referring to their capital cities and their kings. Damascus was the capital of Aram (Syria). GOD Says “The capital of Syria is only the city of Damascus, and its king is only Rezin.” In other words, “That wimp? There’s nothing to fear.” HE then Delivers shocking news: in less than 65 years, Israel (also called Ephraim in some versions) will be a shattered nation, which means she’ll have too many problems of her own to come against anyone. We know this comes true later on when Assyria defeats the northern kingdom of Israel and drags her people off into captivity. GOD then Mocks Israel by saying “The capital of Israel is only the city of Samaria and Pekah is the king of Samaria. So what? You need to trust ME. I am your Strength and Protector. Without ME, you don’t have anything. But with ME, you don’t need to be afraid.”
Promises like this can sound too good to be true and be too hard to absorb when you’re really scared. GOD Knows that King Ahaz is still very upset, so HE Makes a very generous offer. HE Will back HIS promises up with a miraculous sign—anything that Ahaz wants.
The sky’s the limit.
“Ask for a sign from the LORD your GOD to prove to yourself that these things are true. It may be a sign from as deep as the place of the dead or as high as the heavens.”
This is a very generous offer. But Ahaz refuses.
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put YAHWEH to the test.”
This sounds reverent at first glance, but GOD’S Furious Reaction tells us that something isn’t right in Ahaz’s heart.
We learn in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28 that Ahaz is actually a zealous idol worshiper. He has been massively insulting GOD by bowing down to every other idol he can get his hands on, yet now he pretends to suddenly care about respecting GOD. It’s far more likely that he doesn’t want a sign because he has no faith in YAHWEH, therefore a sign wouldn’t mean anything to him.
Then Isaiah said, “Ahaz, descendant of David, listen carefully! Isn’t it bad enough that you wear out the patience of people? Do you also have to wear out the patience of my GOD? The Lord Himself Will Give you a sign: The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and she will name him Immanuel. He will be eating milk curds and honey when he learns to reject what is evil and to choose what is good. You are afraid of the kings of Israel and Aram now. But before the child learns to choose good and reject evil, the lands of Israel and Aram will be empty. Then YAHWEH Will Bring troubled times to you, your people, and to the people of your father’s family. They will be worse than anything that has happened since Israel separated from Judah. YAHWEH Will Bring the king of Assyria to fight against you.” (v13-17)
The term “virgin” is better translated “a young woman.” The implication is a young woman who is available for marriage, which in Hebrew culture suggests sexual purity. It’s the same word that we find in Genesis 24:43, where Abraham’s servant goes out to find a wife for Isaac. In that verse, the same word is translated “young woman” instead of “virgin.” Now if you ever hear someone accusing Christians of mistranslating Isaiah 7:14, you’ll know where they are coming from. It’s true that the word virgin is not the best literal translation. However, young Jewish maidens who were considered eligible for marriage would have been virgins, so to translate this word as “virgin” is fair because it clearly conveys to English readers that sexual purity is being implied, even though it is not directly stated.
Now then, GOD Is Very Angry because Ahaz is refusing to trust HIM. GOD Now Predicts that some young woman who is probably a virgin will bear a son who will be called Immanuel. Notice this verse does not suggest that there will be anything supernatural about the woman conceiving. As far as we can reasonably take this, Isaiah and Ahaz would expect that whoever this young maiden is, she sleeps with a man and this Immanuel boy would be her first son. If Immanuel wasn’t her first son, she wouldn’t be a virgin right before conceiving him, so it’s being implied that the first time this virgin sleeps with a man, she gets pregnant. To try and read some kind of miraculous fertilization process into this prophecy this simply doesn’t work.
We must remember that GOD’S Prophecies Meant something to the people HE Spoke them to—not everything was viewed as a reference to some future MESSIAH. There’s nothing to indicate that Isaiah has The MESSIAH anywhere on his mind at this time—he and Ahaz are discussing the future of Judah, which at the moment looks very perilous. GOD Is Prophesying a child’s birth as a way for Ahaz to measure time. Whoever this woman is, when she has her son, the boy will still be very young when both Israel and Syria will be too damaged to be any threat to Judah. But because Ahaz and the rest of the people in Judah are refusing to trust in GOD, The Lord is going to raise up a third power—the king of Assyria—to come and punish the southern kingdom. It’s going to be very bad times when Assyria attacks—even worse than when the nation of Israel first split into two kingdoms (which happened after the death of King Solomon).
Let’s review the last part of this prophecy:
“He will be eating milk curds and honey when he learns to reject what is evil and to choose what is good. You are afraid of the kings of Israel and Aram now. But before the child learns to choose good and reject evil, the lands of Israel and Aram will be empty. The LORD Will Bring troubled times to you, your people, and to the people of your father’s family. They will be worse than anything that has happened since Israel separated from Judah. The LORD Will Bring the king of Assyria to fight against you.”
It doesn’t take a child very long to develop an understanding of right and wrong. Here GOD Associates this mental development with a child’s ability to eat more solid foods—clearly such a child is no longer being weaned by his mother. Yet GOD then Says that this Immanuel child will not even reach this early stage of development before HIS Predictions about Israel, Aram, and Assyria come true. So all this shifting of the balance of power between three nations is going to take place very quickly, provided that this virgin has her son in the near future. But when exactly is Immanuel going to be born so we can start the countdown?
GOD Isn’t quite Done yet. HE Wants To Talk more about the Judgment HE’s Going To Bring On faithless Judah. Using metaphors of swarming flies and bees, HE Says HE’ll Bring in the Egyptians as well as the Assyrians to make trouble for Judah. HE Describes the Israelites being physically mauled and humiliated by their captors. HE Talks About the lush farmlands becoming filled with weeds and thorns since the people are no longer around to take care of it. It’s a very grim picture, ending with a description of domesticated animals running wild over a ruined land.
Now we come to Chapter 8. Out of the blue, GOD Tells Isaiah to get a large scroll and write the name “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz”. The prophet gets a couple of men to come in and watch while he does this. They probably thought, “Okay, Isaiah, we see it. You’re writing strange scribbles again.”
Now we come to verse 3 and off Isaiah goes to sleep with a woman who were told is a prophetess. It’s reasonable to assume this is his wife. She immediately gets pregnant and bears a son. GOD Tells Isaiah to name the boy Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, which means “quick to the plunder” or “swift to the spoil”—a reference to Assyria’s impending attack.
GOD Then Says:
“The king of Assyria will take away all the wealth and possessions of Damascus and Samaria before the boy learns to say ‘my father’ or ‘my mother.” (8:4)
Clearly this is the Immanuel child. GOD Has Just Identified this boy as being the one HE Referred To in Chapter 7—the child who will still be very young (not even able to talk yet), when Assyria plunders the capital cities of Aram and Israel. With GOD Saying, “Here he is: the child I Told you About” we can hardly pretend that this child isn’t supposed to be the Immanuel kid. That means his mother, the unnamed prophetess, was the young maiden that GOD Referred To.
God now gives a long speech about How HE Is Mad At Judah for refusing to trust Him and How HE Has Chosen Assyria to be His instrument of discipline (Isa. 8:6-7).
After metaphorically describing the army of Assyria as a powerful flood of water, HE Says:
“That water will flow into Judah and pass through it, rising to Judah’s throat. Immanuel, this army will spread its wings like a bird until it covers your whole country.”
Baby Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz lives in the land of Judah, and GOD now Addresses the baby by his alternate name: Immanuel. HE’s Saying “Assyria’s army is going to fill your homeland, little boy.”
This direct reference to Maher as Immanuel leaves no doubt in our minds that this baby with a very long name is the child whose birth was prophesied in Chapter 7. Clearly this prophecy had nothing to do with JESUS—nothing until Matthew makes something out of it later on. Was Matthew correct in doing this or was he perhaps stretching things a bit? Only GOD Can Answer this question for you.
Does this whole idea upset you? Don’t let it. The reality is that many of the prophesies linked to JESUS by the Gospel writers had non-MESSIANIC meanings to the people who first heard them. Certainly some were very specific about a future MESSIAH who would come to save Israel, but many others were simply pulled out of unrelated scenes, like this discussion between Ahaz and Isaiah.
We miss out on a lot of important lessons when we try to see JESUS in every passage of the Old Testament. Instead we need to ask ourselves what the immediate interpretation of a prophesy would be to those who first heard it. Isaiah and Ahaz would have understood that Baby Maher was Immanuel, the sign that Israel and Syria would soon be crushed and that Judah was going to be attacked. As Isaiah says later on in 8:18: “I am here, and with me are the children The LORD Has Given me. We are signs and proofs for the people of Israel from The LORD All-Powerful, Who Lives On Mount Zion.”
To Isaiah, it was simple: GOD Had Prophesied that Immanuel would be born and he had followed through on HIS promise.
We believe that the Scriptures were written by the writers who were inspired by the HOLY SPIRIT and the Great Topic of the whole Bible is JESUS CHRIST Who Came to fulfill what has been written about Him.
Therefore beyond the historical realization of the passage itself, the "IMMANUELl" Prophecy in Isaiah 7 is fulfilled ultimately in the Person and Work of our SAVIOR JESUS because HE Is the True IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US.