Isaiah 7

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

7:1.  “And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.”


Ahaz means possessor; Jotham Jehovah is perfect; Uzziah my strength is Jehovah; Judah he shall be praised; Rezin delightsomeness; Syria exalted; Pekah opening; Remaliah lifted up to Jehovah: bedecked of Jehovah; Israel he shall be prince of God: God commands; Jerusalem dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace.


The spiritual significance of this verse will be grasped more easily if we remember that Jerusalem symbolizes peace, while the three who were links in the royal line represent believers.  They of the enemy line symbolize those who are the enemies of Christ and His people.


Ahaz, meaning possessor, represents the truth that believers are also possessors: we have eternal life; Jotham Jehovah is perfect declares the fact that believers, through their cleansing in the blood of Christ, are also perfect in God’s sight; while Uzziah my strength is Jehovah, points to the truth that God is also the believer’s strength, so that we can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:13.


Since Judah speaks of praise, another truth being presented is that we too ought to be a praising, worshipful people, as declared in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”


The attackers represent anything that would attempt to rob us of the peace God wants us to enjoy.


The meaning of Rezin embraces the thought of pleasure, satisfaction, acceptance, accomplishment, but these meanings have to be understood in the context of evil, for he was an enemy of Judah, and is a type of Satan the arch enemy of God and His people, it being written of him that, “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works,” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.


Rezin’s domain, Syria, meaning exalted, is a fit type of Satan’s kingdom, for concerning the Beast, the evil Tribulation age king, it is written, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” Revelation 2:3-4


Pekah means opening, which, in the present context, also has to be understood in an evil connection suggesting a breach in the boundary which God has set between good and evil. 


Remaliah means lifted up to Jehovah: bedecked of Jehovah, meanings which point to the exalted position in which God had originally set Satan, see Ezekiel 28:14-19, where the king of Tyre is very clearly addressed as a type of Satan, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.  Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.  By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.  Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.  Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.  All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.”


In the context of this section Israel’s making war against Jerusalem presents her in an evil light, indicating that she is to be viewed here as a type of the great false church - Roman Catholicism and apostate Protestantism - united in their inveterate hatred of those who comprise the true Church, i.e., born-again believers.


“... but could not prevail against it.”  Israel’s failure to destroy Judah is the symbolic assurance that nothing can destroy Christ’s Church.


7:2.  “And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim (a synonym for the ten tribes, Israel, as distinct from Judah and Benjamin).  And his heart was moved (trembled), and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.”


David means beloved.  He is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved of the Father; but it is to be noted that here it was “the house” of David rather than David the individual, to which the news came, and Christ’s “house” is the Church, so that the typological picture is of the true Church as a corporate body hearing of the attack by Satan - of whom Syria, meaning exalted, is here a type - for Satan sought to exalt himself above God.   Ephraim, in the present context, is a type of the professing but apostate false church; but it is emphasized that that is so only in the present context, for normally Ephraim, meaning double ash-heap: I shall be doubly fruitful, has a good connotation; the size of its ash-heap portraying the literal prosperity of any city: the larger the ash-heap, the greater the affluence of the place.


Trees are biblical symbols of people, as the wind is of the Holy Spirit, so that the symbolic picture here is of the people being moved or influenced by the Holy Spirit, see John 3:8, “The wind blows where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”


7:3.  “Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;”


Shear-jashub means a remnant shall return; a conduit is a channel or aqueduct; and the “fuller’s field” is also translated laundry-men’s field: the bleaching field.  It was the field where linen cloth was spread out to bleach in the sun after being laundered.


The conduit was on the west side of Jerusalem, and here has a good connotation, for the west is the direction that always speaks of approach to God, whereas the east, as might be expected, is always associated with departure from Him.


The verse is highly symbolic, for the meaning of Shear-jashub’s name is the clear assurance that from the foretold captivity a remnant would eventually return.  The meaning of “... the conduit of the upper pool” is also easily read, for the upper pool represents the Word of God; and the conduit typifies that part of it which, like a stream of pure water, continually cleanses the obedient believer’s life by conveying to spiritual believers the meaning of the symbolic language of Scripture.


The mention of the end of the conduit has also its lesson.  The water of the Word is the end of God’s revelation of Himself to men.  There is nothing more that He will reveal of Himself to us here on earth, the full revelation awaiting that day when we will stand in His presence in heaven, as it is written, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known,” 1 Corinthians 13:12.


The highway represents the “strait and narrow way” along which believers walk on their way home to heaven; and the fuller’s field, associated as it is with the bleaching of pure white linen, scarcely needs comment.  It speaks of the righteousness associated with that heavenly highway, see Proverbs 16:17, “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil: he that keeps his way preserves his soul,” and Revelation 19:8, “... the fine linen is the righteousness of saints,”


The spiritual significance of the fuller’s field is also crystal clear.  It represents the sphere into which conversion brings the believer, where the rays of “the Sun of righteousness” bring the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, which results in the “whitening” i.e., purifying of the believer’s daily life.


7:4.  “And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.”


God’s word of encouragement to Ahaz was to take care to be calm, tranquil, and unafraid at the threatening of the enemy, whom He described as two ends (smoldering stumps) of smoking firewood; two fag-ends of flickering torches, i.e., they were near the end of their lives though they didn’t know it.  The Bible Knowledge Commentary informs us that, “Both men died two years later in 732 B.C.” 


God’s encouragement to us in the midst of every trial is, “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10, and again, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.  It is instructive also to note that the list of those who will be consigned to the eternal torment of the lake of fire is headed up by “the fearful,” See Revelation 21:8.  How many will weep and wail for ever in that dreadful lake because they feared the laughter of men more than they did the wrath of God!


7:5.  “Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying,”


7:6.  “Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:”


Tabeal means good for nothing.  Nothing further is known relative to this man.  He may be a type of the coming Tribulation age Beast emperor.


7:7.  “Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.”


Man may plan and plot, but he can do only what God permits.  It behooves us therefore to seek His guidance relative to every plan we make, and to append the condition, If this be Your will.  God would not permit fulfillment of the enemy’s evil schemes.


His assurance to His own in that distant past day remains the same to us today.  He will frustrate the plans of those who seek our harm, and will bring us safe to the end of life’s journey; for even if an enemy slay us, death simply transports us into heaven, relative to which Paul has written, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,” Philippians 1:23.


7:8.  “For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim (Israel) be broken, that it be not a people.”


The first part of this verse is also rendered, “Damascus is but the capital of Aram, and only in Damascus does Rezin rule.”  In other words, Rezin and Damascus were of little importance, and it was folly on the part of Israel to form an alliance with Rezin in the expectation of destroying Judah.  The further assurance was that within sixty-five years Israel would cease to be a nation, a prophecy which was fulfilled when Assyria conquered Israel in 722 B.C., and multitudes of Israelites were carried away captive, and replaced in the land by foreigners.  Then in 669 B.C. even more foreigners were settled in the land, so that Ephraim (Israel) became a pathetic small minority in her own country, her national existence virtually ended.


7:9.  “And the head of Ephraim (Israel) is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son (Pekah).  If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”


This continues to emphasize the insignificance of the enemy Ephraim (Israel).  His capital was Samaria, a city very inferior to Jerusalem the capital of Judah.  


This was God’s declaration of the littleness of Ephraim (Israel), and its capital Samaria, and its king, Remaliah’s son Pekah, which means opening, but I regret being unable to see the spiritual significance of that meaning.  His inferiority is declared in the fact that his name isn’t even mentioned: he is simply said to be the son of Remaliah.


The final sentence declares the imperative of Judah’s believing God’s word, other translations being, “If you will not believe and trust in and rely on God [and on the words of God’s prophet, instead of Assyria], surely you will not be established nor will you remain,” The Amplified Bible; and again, “If you want me to protect you, you must learn to believe what I say,” Taylor.


This admonition applies also to us.  If we would walk in the peaceful enjoyment of our salvation we must trust God’s word implicitly, otherwise we will be overwhelmed by every adverse circumstance, and be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” Ephesians 4:14.


7:10.  “Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,”


7:11.  “Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”


God graciously invited Ahaz to choose a sign from heaven, earth, or hell, as guarantee of the fulfillment of what He was promising.


7:12.  “But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.”


Ahaz had placed all his faith in Assyria for aid, but under the hypocritical pretext of trusting in Jehovah he refused to ask for any sign; but God, aware of the deceit in the heart of Ahaz, proceeded to give the sign.


7:13.  “And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also”


The speaker is Isaiah, and his addressing the people as the “house of David” is the reminder that they were figuratively of royal descent; and we are missing the point if we forget that all believers are literally of even higher parentage: we are the spiritual sons and daughters of the God of heaven, and are enjoined to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,” Ephesians 4:1.


“... to weary” is to disgust.  Judah’s sinfulness not only disgusted (sickened) God: it revolted men also because of the hypocrisy involved.  The Jews were worse than the Gentiles whom they despised, because their sins were committed against the backdrop of professed righteousness.  Lamentably, the apostate church, Catholic and Protestant, offers the same disgusting insult to God and men today.


7:14.  “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”


The reference is to the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here God graciously gives the sign which Ahaz refused to ask; and the strange irony is that while apostate Christendom, in the celebration of Christmas, goes through the charade of celebrating the Lord’s miraculous birth, they too refuse to believe God: they will not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.


Immanuel means God with us.


7:15.  “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”


As used here butter and honey are symbols of the Scriptures, relative to which the Lord said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of,” John 4:32; and again  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4.


“... that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” doesn’t mean that the Lord acquired this knowledge by reading the Scriptures.  His knowledge of the Word was inherent, for He is the Word, see John 1:1,14, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God .... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”


7:16.  “For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.”


This is just another way of saying that the few years which elapse between a child’s birth and its becoming old enough to discern between right and wrong, are the equivalent of the brief time that would elapse before God destroyed Judah’s enemies Ephraim (Israel) and Syria.


7:17.  “The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah: even the king of Assyria.”


Taylor translates this verse, “But later on, the Lord will bring a terrible curse on you and on your nation and your family.  There will be terror, such as has not been known since the division of Solomon’s empire into Israel and Judah - the mighty king of Assyria will come with his great army.”


7:18.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall hiss (call) for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.”


The swarms of flies and bees are here figures of the great armies of Egypt and Assyria, which God would bring against rebellious Judah.


7:19.  “And they shall come, and shall rest all of them in the desolate valleys, and in the holes of the rocks, and upon all thorns, and upon all bushes.”


This is a metaphorical description of the vast numbers of the invading enemy.  They would cover the whole land, even that which was mountainous and desert, barren and fertile alike.


7:20.  “In the same day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet: and it shall also consume the beard.”


The closeness with which a razor shaves off hair is a figure of the utter destruction which the Assyrian would bring upon the land.


The removal of the beard is an allegorical reference to the shame the people would experience under the dominion of their Assyrian conquerors, see, for example 2 Samuel 10:4-5.


7:21.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;”


So great would be the devastation that a man who had a cow and two sheep left would be considered fortunate.


7:22.  “And it shall come to pass, for the abundance of milk that they shall give he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall every one eat that is left in the land.”


The Amplified Bible renders this verse, “... for only butter and curds and wild honey [no vegetables] shall everyone eat who is left in the land [these products provided from the extensive pastures, and the plentiful wild flowers upon which the bees depend].”


The fields would become uncultivated pasture land as a result of the enemy’s having destroyed or carried away all the grain.


7:23.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall be for briers and thorns.”


This verse is also rendered, “every place which once bore a thousand vines worth a thousand pieces of silver shall be given over to thorns and briars,” The New English Bible.  Thorns are the symbol of the earth’s cursed state, see Genesis 3:18


7:24.  “With arrows and with bows shall men come thither; because all the land shall become briers and thorns


The land would revert to its former wild state so that men would only go there with bows and arrows to hunt the wild animals whose habitat it would become.


7:25.  “And on all hills that shall be digged with the mattock, there shall not come thither the fear of briers and thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of oxen, and for the treading of lesser cattle.”


“... not come thither the fear of briers” means that because of the risk of being scratched by the thorns, no one would go there, except to pasture his domestic animals.


The barrenness of the land prefigures the terrible devastation of the whole world in the now impending Great Tribulation.

[Isaiah 8]

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