James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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.Isaiah 7:1-9:21
JUDAH’S ALLIANCE WITH ASSYRIA
Syria and Israel menaced Judah through Jotham’s reign but the situation has become acute now that Ahaz is on the throne (Isaiah 7:1-2).
THE PROMISED SIGN
The Lord, through Isaiah, counsels and encourages the king at a crisis (Isaiah 7:3-16). Notice where the prophet is to meet Ahaz (Isaiah 7:3): where he and his military engineers may be conferring as to the water supply during the expected siege. Notice who accompanies the prophet, and his name, which means “a remnant shall return” (margin). The name was doubtless known to the king and was intended to inspire hope; it pointed to God’s purpose of ultimate blessing for Judah. Notice the design of Syria and Israel to overthrow the throne of Judah and set up their choice in place of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:6). Ahaz’ unwillingness to ask a sign (Isaiah 7:12) was not piety but the opposite, since he intended to invite the aid of Assyria and cared nothing for Jehovah.
The virgin is not identified, but within the period when she would become a wife and mother and her offspring old enough to discriminate between good and evil, a few years at the most, Ahaz present enemies would be past the power to harm him.
Such is the immediate application, but the Holy Spirit had in mind a grander and fuller application, as we know from Matthew 1:23. This gives occasion to speak of another principle in the interpretation of prophecy known as the law of double reference. That is, when the precise time of particular events is not revealed, the prophets sometimes speak of them as continuous, and sometimes blend two events in one. The latter is the case here, and the birth of this child of the virgin, who became married in Ahaz’ time, is a foreshadowing of the birth of Jesus Christ who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary, who remained a virgin until after the birth of her firstborn Son.
COMING JUDGMENTS ON JUDAH (Isaiah 7:17 to Isaiah 8:8)
Ahaz rejection of God and his confidence in Assyria call forth a prophecy of punishment (Isaiah 7:17). Assyria will ultimately become Judah’s enemy (Isaiah 7:18-20), and the land be desolate of population and laid waste (Isaiah 7:21-25).
After a parenthesis, in which similar catastrophes are spoken of in the case of Syria and Israel (Isaiah 8:1-7), Judah is again alluded to (Isaiah 8:8). When the king of Assyria is passing through Israel, and leading her people into captivity, he will sweep down into Judah also, and spare only Jerusalem, the capital of the nation. This prophecy was fulfilled in the story of Sennacherib and Hezekiah with which the book of Kings has familiarized us.
A FORECAST OF THE END OF THE AGE (Isaiah 8:9-22)
The law of double reference finds another illustration in the verses following. From the immediate judgments falling on Judah, the Holy Spirit leads out the prophet to speak of those to come at the end of the age.
Isaiah 8:9 is a picture of the Gentile nations federated under the man of sin, with whose character and work we have become partially acquainted. This federation will come to naught (Isaiah 8:10). The faithful remnant of Israel in that day are urged to make God their trust (Isaiah 8:11-18), while the nation as a whole will be walking in moral and spiritual darkness (Isaiah 8:19-22).
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST (Isaiah 9:1-7)
This darkness and gloom will not continue forever (Isaiah 9:1-3 RV). The day is coming when the Gentile yoke will be removed from Israel under miraculous conditions foreshadowed by Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Isaiah 9:4). It is the coming of the Messiah to reign that will effect this (Isaiah 9:6-7). Notice the law of double reference in these verses, where the first and second advents of Christ are referred to as continuous, or blended together in one. The last verse shows conclusively that the mind of the Holy Spirit is resting upon the millennial age.
1. What nations are Judah’s enemies at this time?
2. What was the design in Isaiah’s being accompanied by his son?
3. Quote Matthew 1:23.
4. State the law of double reference.
5. What is the interpretation of Isaiah 8:8?
6. To what period, presumably, does Isaiah 8:9 apply?
7. Explain Isaiah 9:4.