Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and she will call Him Immanuel.
Sermons
A Double Tolerance in Isaiah's PropheciesD. M. Sweets.Isaiah 7:14
A New Thing in the EarthAnon.Isaiah 7:14
A Prediction of the Miraculous Conception of Jesus ChristJ. A. Alexander.Isaiah 7:14
A Prophecy of the MessiahCanon Ainger.Isaiah 7:14
Christ in ProphecyH. L. Hastings.Isaiah 7:14
Deliverance by a Lowly AgentProf. S. R. Driver, D. D.Isaiah 7:14
God with UsGates of ImageryIsaiah 7:14
God with Us, Though His Presence is not Always Realised"Niger" in Expositor.Isaiah 7:14
God's Sign to AhazJ. A. Alexander.Isaiah 7:14
God's Sign to King AhazD. M. Sweets.Isaiah 7:14
ImmanuelEvan Lewis, B. A.Isaiah 7:14
ImmanuelT. H. Barnett.Isaiah 7:14
ImmanuelJohn Newton Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel, a Stimulus to the Prophet Himself"Niger" in Expositor.Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel, the MessiahF. Delitzsch.Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel, the SympathiserCanon Ainger.Isaiah 7:14
Life's Best AmuletChristian EndeavorIsaiah 7:14
Miracle of MiraclesIsaiah 7:14
Shear-Jashub; Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz; ImmanuelF. H. Woods, B. D.Isaiah 7:14
The Birth of ChristIsaiah 7:14
The Child Immanuel"Niger" in Expositor.Isaiah 7:14
The Figure of Immanuel an Ideal OneProf. S. R. Driver, D. D.Isaiah 7:14
The Immanuel-ChildR. Tuck Isaiah 7:14
The Mercy of GodJ. Donne.Isaiah 7:14
The Mystery of the SignF. Delitzsch.Isaiah 7:14
The Presence of GodW. Clarkson Isaiah 7:14
The Responsibility of RevelationE. T. Marshall, M. A.Isaiah 7:14
The VirginProf. A. F. Kirkpatrick., Speaker's Commentary., Prof. W. J. Beecher, D. D.Isaiah 7:14
The Virgin MotherF. H. Woods, B. D.Isaiah 7:14
What Sign Could the Distant Birth of Christ be to AhazF. T. Bassett, M. A.Isaiah 7:14
Who was the Virgin and Who the SonD. M. Sweets.Isaiah 7:14
Faith Triumphing Over DoubtE. Johnson Isaiah 7:10-17
The Nature of the Messianic PropheciesR. Tuck Isaiah 7:14-16
We naturally ask the question - In what ways is God ours? "Immanuel;" in what respect is he one of whom we can say that he is "God with us;" how and where is his presence to be found and to be felt? There are many answers to this question; there is -

I. THE ANSWER OF SACRED POETRY. That the presence of God is seen in the results of his Divine handiwork, in the foundations and pillars of the earth, in the "meanest flower that blows," in the varied forms of life; that it only needs a true imagination to see him in all the objects and scenes of his creative power; that "every bush's afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes."

II. THE ANSWER OF PHILOSOPHY. That his presence is in all-surrounding nature, in which he is immanent; that though all nature does not include Deity, the Divine power is present in all things, sustaining, energizing, renewing; the "laws of nature" are the regular activities of God.

III. THE ANSWER OF NATURAL RELIGION. That he is with us in his omnipresent and observant Spirit; that he fills immensity with his presence, being everywhere and observing everything, and taking notice of every human soul; that the Infinite One is he who cannot be absent from any sphere or be ignorant of any action.

IV. THE ANSWER, OF THE EARLIER REVELATION. That his presence is in his overruling providence; that God is with us, not only "besetting us behind and before," not only "understanding our thought afar off," but also "laying his hand upon us," directing our course, ordering our steps (Psalm 37:23), making plain our path before our face, causing all things to work together for our good, defending us in danger, delivering us from trouble, establishing us in life and strength and joy (see Genesis 39:2; 1 Samuel 3:19; 1 Samuel 18:12; 2 Kings 18:7; Matthew 28:20).

V. THE ANSWER OF THE LATER REVELATION. That his presence was in his Divine Son. The time came when the words of the text proved to have indeed "a springing and germinant fulfillment;" for a virgin did conceive, and bring forth a Son, and he was the "Immanuel" of the human race, God with us - that One who dwelt amongst us, and could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." They who walked with him and watched his life, and who understood and appreciated him, recognized the spirit, the character, the life, of God himself. In his mind were the thoughts, in his words the truth, in his deeds the principles, in his death the love, in his mission the purpose, of God. When "Jesus was here among men," God was with us as never before, as never since.

VI. THE ANSWER OF OUR OWN CONSCIOUSNESS. That his presence is in and through his Holy Spirit. God is with us because in us; present, therefore, in the deepest, truest, most potent, and influential of all ways and forms; in us, enlightening our minds, subduing our wills, enlarging our hearts, uplifting our souls, strengthening and sanctifying our spiritual nature. Then, indeed, is he nearest to us when he comes unto us and makes his abode with us, and thus "dwells in us and we in him." Our duty, which is our privilege, is

(1) to realize, increasingly, the nearness of the living God;

(2) to rejoice, practically, in the coming of God to man in the presence of the virgin-born Immanuel;

(3) to gain, by believing prayer, the presence of the Divine Spirit in the sanctuary of our own soul. - C.







Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign.
Perhaps more perplexity has been produced among commentators by this passage than by any other in Old Testament prophecy. The chief difficulties of the passage may be stated as follows: Does the prophecy refer to some event which was soon to occur, or does it refer exclusively to some event in the distant future? If it refers to some event which was soon to occur, what event was it? Who was the child intended, and who the virgin who should bring forth the child?

1. The first step toward the unravelling of the prophet's meaning is to determine the exact significance of the words. What, then, is the meaning of the word אות, which is translated "sign"? Delitzsch defines the word as "a thing, event, or act which may serve to guarantee the Divine certainty of some other thing, event, or act." It does not of necessity denote a miracle. For example, in Genesis 17:11, circumcision is said to be a "sign," or token. The context, together with the nature of the thing, event, or act, must decide whether the אות is a miracle or not. All that is necessary to constitute a "sign" to Ahaz is that some assurance shall be given which Jehovah alone can give. And the certain prediction of future events is the prerogative of Jehovah alone.

2. We turn now to the word עַלְמָה, translated "virgin" and shall try to find its exact meaning. The derivation of it from עָלַם, to hide, to conceal, is now generally abandoned. Its most probable derivation is from עָלַם, to grow, to be strong, and hence the word means one who has come to a mature or marriageable age. Hengstenberg contends that it means one in an unmarried state; Gesenius holds that it means simply being of marriageable age, the age of puberty. However this may be, it seems most natural to take the word in this place as meaning one who was then unmarried and who could be called a virgin. But we must guard against the exegetical error of supposing that the word here used implies that the person spoken of must be a virgin at the time when the child is born. All that is said is that she who is now a virgin shall bear a son.

3. Let us now proceed to consider the interpretation of the prophecy itself. The opinions which have generally prevailed with regard to it are three —(1) That it has no reference to any Messianic fulfilment, but refers exclusively to some event in the time of the prophet.(2) That it has exclusive and immediate reference to the Messiah, thus excluding any reference to any event which was then to occur. On this view, the future birth of the Messiah from a virgin is made the sign to Ahaz that Jerusalem shall he safe from a threatened invasion(3) That the prophet is speaking of the birth of a child which would soon take place of someone who was then a virgin; but that the prophecy has also a higher fulfilment in Christ. This last view we regards the only tenable one, and the proof of it will be the refutation of the other two. The following reasons are presented to show that the prophecy refers to some event which was soon to occur.

1. The context demands it. If there was no allusion in the New Testament to the prophecy, and we should contemplate the narrative here in its surrounding circumstances, we should naturally feel that the prophet must mean this. If the seventh and eighth chapters, connected as they are, were all that we had, we should be compelled to admit a reference to something in the prophet's time. The record in Isaiah 8:1-4, following in such close connection, seems to be intended as a public assurance of the fulfilment of what is here predicted respecting the deliverance of the land from the threatened invasion. The prediction was that she who is a virgin shall bear a son. Now Jehovah alone can foreknow this, and He pronounces the birth of this child as the sign which shall be given.

2. The thing to be given to Ahaz was a sign or token that a present danger would be averted. How could the fact that the Messiah would come seven hundred years later prove this?Let us now look at the reasons for believing that it contains also a reference to the Messiah.

1. The first argument we present is derived from the passage in Isaiah 9:7. There is an undoubted connection between that passage and the one under consideration, as almost all critical scholars admit. And it seems that nothing short of a Messianic reference will explain the words. Some have asserted that the undoubted and exclusive reference to Messiah in this verse (Isaiah 9:7) excludes any local reference in the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. But so far from this being the ease, we believe it is an instance of what Bacon calls the "springing, germinant fulfilment of prophecy." And we believe that it can be proved that all prophecies take their start from historical facts. Isaiah here (Isaiah 9:7) drops the historical drapery and rises to a mightier and more majestic strain.

2. The second and crowning argument is taken from the language of the inspired writer Matthew (Matthew 1:22, 23).

(D. M. Sweets.)

? —

1. Some have supposed that the wife of Ahaz was meant by the "virgin," and that his son Hezekiah was the child meant. There is an insuperable difficulty against this view. Ahaz's reign extended over sixteen years (2 Kings 16:2), and Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he succeeded Ahaz (2 Kings 18:2). Consequently, at this time Hezekiah could not have been less than nine years old. It has been supposed that Ahaz had a second wife, and that the son was hers. This is a mere supposition, supported by nothing in the narrative, while it makes Isaiah 8:1-4 have no connection with what precedes or follows.

2. Others have supposed that some virgin who was then present before Ahaz was designated, and they make the meaning this: "As surely as this virgin shall conceive and bear a son, so surely shall the land be forsaken of its kings." This is too vague for the definite language used, and gives no explanation of the incident in chap. 8. about Maher-shalal-hash-baz.

3. Another opinion is that the virgin was not an actual but an ideal virgin." "Michaelis thus presents this view: "By the time when one who is yet a virgin can bring forth (i.e., in nine months), all will be happily changed and the present impending danger so completely passed away that if you were to name the child you would call him Immanuel." Surely this would not be a sign or pledge of anything to Ahaz. Besides, it was not a birth possible, but an actual birth, which was spoken of.

4. But the view which is most in keeping with the entire context, and which presents the fewest difficulties, is that the prophet's own son is intended. This view does require the supposition that Isaiah married a second wife, who at the time of this prophecy was still a virgin and whom he subsequently married. "But there is no improbability in the supposition that the mother of his son, Shear-jashub, was deceased, and that Isaiah was about again to be married. This is the only supposition which this view demands. Such an occurrence was surely not uncommon. All other explanations require more suppositions, and suppositions more unnatural than this. Our supposition does no violence to the narrative, and certainly falls in best with all the facts. We would then identify Immanuel (as Ahaz and his contemporaries would understand the name to be applied) with Maher-shalal-hash-baz. With this view harmonises what the prophet says in Isaiah 8:18: "Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion." It is no objection to this view that another name than "Immanuel" was given to the child. It was a common thing to give two names to children, especially when one name was symbolic, as Immanuel was. Jesus Christ was never called Immanuel as a proper name, though almost all scholars agree that the prophecy referred to Him in some sense.

(D. M. Sweets.)

The careful, critical student of Isaiah will find this thing common in his writings, namely, that he commences with a prophecy having reference to some remarkable delivery which was soon to occur, and terminates it by a statement of events connected with a higher deliverance under the Messiah. His mind becomes absorbed; the primary object is forgotten in the contemplation of the more remote and glorious event.

(D. M. Sweets.)

The Hebrew word rendered "virgin" in the A.V. would be more accurately rendered "damsel." It means a young woman of marriageable age, and is not the word which would be naturally used for virgin, if that was the point which it was desired to emphasise.

(Prof. A. F. Kirkpatrick.)Our English word "maiden" comes as near, probably, as any to the Hebrew word.

(Speaker's Commentary.)The Hebrew lexicons tell us that the word almah, here translated virgin, may denote any mature young woman, whether a virgin or not. So far as its derivation is concerned, this is undoubtedly the case; but in Biblical usage, the word denotes a virgin in every case where its meaning can be determined. The instances are, besides the text, that in the account of Rebekah (Genesis 24:43), that of the sister of Moses (Exodus 2:8), the word used in the plural (Psalm 68:25, 26; Song of Solomon 1:3; Song of Solomon 6:8), its use in the titles of Psalms (Psalm 46; 1 Chronicles 15:20), and its use in Proverbs 30:19. The last passage is the one chiefly relied on to prove that the word may denote a woman not a virgin; but, "the way of a man with a maid" there spoken of is something wonderful, incapable of being traced or understood, like the way of an eagle in the air, a serpent on a rock, a ship in the sea, and it is only in its application to that wonderful human experience, first love between a man and a virgin, that this description can find a full and complete significance. The use of the word in the Bible may not be full enough in itself to prove that almah necessarily means virgin, but it is sufficient to show that Septuagint translators probably chose deliberately and correctly, when they chose to translate the word, in this passage, by the Greek word that distinctively denotes a virgin, and that Matthew made no mistake in so understanding their translation.

(Prof. W. J. Beecher, D. D.)

Not Ahaz, not some high-born son of Ahaz's house, is to have the honour of rescuing his country from its peril: a "nameless maiden of lowly rank" (Delitzsch) is to be the mother of the future deliverer. Ahaz and the royal house are thus put aside; it is not till Isaiah 9:7 — spoken at least a year subsequently — that we are able to gather that the Deliverer is to be a descendant of David's line.

(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

The king having refused to ask a sign, the prophet gives him one, by renewing the promise of deliverance (vers. 8, 9), and connecting it with the birth of a child, whose significant name is made a symbol of the Divine interposition, and his progress a measure of the subsequent events. Instead of saying that God would be present with them to deliver them, he says the child shall be called Immanuel (God with us); instead of mentioning a term of years, he says, before the child is able to distinguish good from evil; instead of saying that until that time the land shall lie waste, he represents the child as eating curds and honey, spontaneous products, here put in opposition to the fruits of cultivation. At the same time, the form of expression is descriptive. Instead of saying that the child shall experience all this, he represents its birth and infancy as actually passing in his sight; he sees the child brought forth and named Immanuel; he sees the child eating curds and honey till a certain age. But very different opinions are held as to the child here alluded to. Some think it must be a child about to be born, in the course of nature, to the prophet himself. Others think that two distinct births are referred to, one that of Shear-jashub, the prophet's son, and the other Christ, the Virgin's Son. Yet others see only a prophetic reference to the birth of Messiah.

(J. A. Alexander.)

While some diversity of judgment ought to be expected and allowed, in relation to the secondary question (of the child of the period that is referred to), there is no ground, grammatical, historical, or logical, for doubt as to the main point, that the Church in all ages has been right in regarding this passage as a signal and explicit prediction of the miraculous conception and nativity of Jesus Christ.

(J. A. Alexander.)

The language of Isaiah forces upon us the conviction that the figure of Immanuel is an ideal one, projected by him upon the shifting future — upon the nearer future in chap. 7, upon the remoter future in chap. 9, but grasped by the prophet as a living and real personality, the guardian of his country now, its deliverer and governor hereafter. The circumstances under which the announcement is made to Ahaz are such as apparently exclude deliberation in the formation of the idea; it is the unpremeditated creation of his inspired imagination. This view satisfies all the requirements of the narrative. The birth of the child being conceived as immediate affords a substantial ground for the assurance conveyed to Ahaz; and the royal attributes with which the child speedily appears to be endued, and which forbid hit identification with any actual contemporary of the prophet's, become at once intelligible. It is the Messianic King, whose portrait is here for the first time in the Old Testament sketched directly.

(Prof. S. R. Driver, D. D.)

It is the Messiah whom the prophet here beholds as about to be born, then in chap. 9 as born, and in chap. 11 as reigning.

(F. Delitzsch.)

? — The answer is plain, as evidenced by the prophet turning away from the king who repudiated, his privileges to the "house of David," to which in all its generations the promise was given. The king was endeavouring to bring about the destruction of "the land," but his efforts in that direction would be useless until the destiny of the house of David was fulfilled. The virgin must bear the promised Son; Judah is immortal till that event is accomplished. It matters not whether it is near or far, the family and lineage of David must survive till then. Hence the sign was plain enough, or ought to have been, to Ahaz and the people in general. The closing portion of this section of Scripture fully discloses the destruction that should befall Judah as well as Israel, but the final fall of Judah is after the birth of Immanuel.

(F. T. Bassett, M. A.)

To maintain that Isaiah did not mean to say that a certain Person in the future was to be born of a virgin, is not the same thing as to hold that Christ was not so born as a fact.

(F. H. Woods, B. D.)

The "sign" is on the one side a mystery staring threateningly at the house of David, and on the other side it is a mystery rich in comfort to the prophet and all believers; and it is couched in such enigmatic terms in order that they who harden themselves may not understand it, and in order that believers may so much the more long to understand it.

(F. Delitzsch.)

(vers. 10-16): —

I. THE PLEDGE PROPOSED.

1. The condescension which God displayed on this occasion was very remarkable.

2. There may be a semblance of regard for the honour of God, while the heart is in a state of hostility against Him.

3. God may sustain a certain relationship to those who are not His in reality.

II. THE INDIGNANT REBUKE ADMINISTERED. (Ver. 13.)

1. The persons to whom it was addressed. Not the king only, but the whole nation; which shows that they, or a large portion of them, were like-minded with their ungodly ruler. They are called "the house of David," a designation which was doubtless intended to remind them of his character, and the great things which God had done for him. Well would it have been if he by whom David's throne was now occupied had been imbued with David's spirit, and walked in David's ways; and that his influence had been exerted in inducing his subjects to do so likewise.

2. The feeling by which it was prompted. It was evidently that of holy indignation.

3. The grounds on which it rested. There were two things especially by which God was dishonoured on this occasion.(1) Unbelief. Nothing casts a greater indignity upon the Divine character than for His word to be distrusted.(2) Hypocrisy. Far better to bid open defiance to the Most High, and say with Pharaoh, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" than pretend to serve Him while we are resolved to act in opposition to His will.

III. THE GLORIOUS EVENT PREDICTED. As to this striking prediction, in itself considered, there are several particulars which it sets before us —

1. The miraculous conception of Christ.

2. The essential Deity of Christ.

3. The design of the coming of Christ. For Him to be called "Immanuel, God with us," shows that He appeared to espouse our cause.

4. The lowly condition of Christ. "Butter and honey shall He eat," etc.

5. The moral purity of Christ. Although the expression, "before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good," has literal reference to His attaining the age of discernment, yet it may be applied with special propriety to the spotless sanctity of His character. He knew, in a sense in which no one else ever knew, how to refuse the evil and choose the good.

(Anon.)

I. THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.

1. We see here a miraculous conception.

2. Notice next, the humble parentage. Though she was not a princess, yet her name, Mary, by interpretation, signifies a princess; and though she is not the queen of heaven, yet she has a right to be reckoned amongst the queens of earth; and though she is not the lady of our Lord, she does walk amongst the renowned and mighty women of Scripture. Yet Jesus Christ's birth was a humble one. Strange that the Lord of glory was not born in a palace! Let us take courage here. If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why should not the stable of our souls be made into a habitation for Him? If He was born in poverty, may not the poor in spirit expect that He will be their Friend?

3. We must make one more remark upon this birth of Christ, and that remark shall be concerning a glorious birthday. With all the humility that surrounded the birth of Christ, there was yet very much that was glorious, very much that was honourable. No other man ever had such a birthday as Jesus Christ had. Of whom had prophets and seers ever written as they wrote of Him? Whose name is graven on so many tablets as His? Who had such a scroll of prophecy, all pointing to Him as Jesus Christ, the God-man? Then recollect, concerning His birth, when did God ever hang a fresh lamp in the sky to announce the birth of a Caesar? Caesars may come, and they may die, but stars shall never prophesy their birth. When did angels ever stoop from heaven, and sing choral symphonies on the birth of a mighty man? Christ's birth is not despicable, even if we consider the visitors who came around His cradle.

II. THE FOOD OF CHRIST. "Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." Our translators were certainly very good Scholars, and God gave them much wisdom, so that they craned up our language to the majesty of the original, but here they were guilty of very great inconsistency. I do not see how butter and honey can make a child choose good, and refuse evil. If it is so, I am sure butter and honey ought to go up greatly in price, for good men are ver much required. But it does not say, in the original, "Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the owl, and choose the good," but, "Butter and honey shall He eat, till He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good," or, better still, "Butter and honey shall He eat, when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good." We shall take that translation, and just try to elucidate the meaning couched in the words. They should teach us —

1. Christ's proper humanity. When He would convince His disciples that He was flesh, and not spirit, He took a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and ate as others did.

2. The butter and honey teach us, again, that Christ was to be born in times of peace. Such products are not found in Judea in times of strife; the ravages of war sweep away all the fair fruits of industry.

3. There is another thought here. "Butter and honey shall He eat when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good." This is to teach us the precocity of Christ, by which I mean that, even when He was a child, even when He lived upon butter and honey, which is the food of children, He Knew me evil from the good.

4. Perhaps it may seem somewhat playful, but I must say how sweet it is to my soul to believe that, as Christ lived upon butter and honey, surety butter and honey drop from His lips. Sweet are His words unto our souls, more to be desired than honey or the honeycomb.

5. And perhaps I ought not to have forgotten to say, that the effect of Christ's eating butter and honey was to show us that He would not in His lifetime differ from other men in His outward guise. Butter and honey Christ ate, and butter and honey may His people eat; nay, whatsoever God in His providence gives unto them, that is to be the food of the child Christ.

III. THE NAME OF CHRIST. "And shall call His name Immanuel."

1. The Virgin Mary called her son Immanuel that there might be a meaning in His name

2. Would you know this name most sweetly you must know it by the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. This Annunciation to Ahaz was a great opportunity for him — a crisis in his spiritual life. He was getting entangled in idolatrous ways, involved in disloyal relations with the Assyrian monarchy, and had already seriously compromised himself in sacrilegious appropriation of temple treasure. And here was a golden opportunity to break through his bends, and cast himself loose, once for all from his unworthy associations. He was only asked to trust on for a little while longer, to watch events, and, as they fell out in a certain direction, to recognise that they were of God's special ordering, and that they constituted a claim on his obedience and trust in God. But he was incapable of profiting by God's goodwill towards him. He rejected the Divine overtures of prosperity and peace; and, while God still carried out the dictates of His purpose, they came to Ahaz without blessing and without relief. His enemies were removed, but a direr foe stood in their place; he could not but learn that God was faithful, but the word that he compelled God to keep was a word of retribution.

2. And if we were capable of the combined mental and spiritual effort that such a course would require, and were to sit down calmly and without prejudice to dissect our past lives, and with unerring judgment were to separate cause from effect in every case, and to trace each important issue of life to its true turning point, how often, probably, should we find that the unsatisfactory features of the past were largely due to our neglect of some revelation — some annunciation — of God! By experience, by example, by warning, by discipline; by difficulties significantly placed in our path, or by clearances unexpectedly but unmistakably made; by words in season, out of season; by a thousand things, and in countless ways, we have had annunciations from God — plain indications of His will and pleasure concerning us, and no indistinct prophecies of things that shall be hereafter. And our judgment upon a review of the whole is this — that our true happiness and our genuine success have been in very exact proportion to our faithfulness or our unfaithfulness in reading the signs of God.

(E. T. Marshall, M. A.)

The first word of this text joins the anger of God and His mercy together. God chides and rebukes the king Ahaz by the prophet; He is angry with him, and therefore" He will give him a sign — a seal of mercy.

I. GOD TAKES ANY OCCASION TO SHOW MERCY.

II. THE PARTICULAR WAY OF HIS MERCY DECLARED HERE. "The Lord shall give you a sign."

III. WHAT THIS SIGN WAS. "Behold a virgin," etc.

(J. Donne.)

King Ahaz saith, I will not tempt God, and, making religion his pretence against religion, being a most wilful and wicked man, would not. We may learn by this wretched king that those that are least fearful before danger are most basely fearful in danger (ver. 2). We may see the conflict between the infinite goodness of God and the inflexible stubbornness of man; God's goodness striving with man's badness. When they would have no sign, yet God will give them a sign. Behold.

(1)As a thing presented to the eye of faith.

(2)As a matter of great concernment.

(3)As a strange and admirable thing.It is atheistical profaneness to despise any help that God in His wisdom thinketh necessary to support our weak faith withal. The house of David was afraid they should be extinct by these two great enemies of the Church; but, saith Isaiah, "A virgin of the house of David shall conceive a son," and how then can the house of David be extinct? Heaven hath said it; earth cannot disannul it. God hath said it, and all the creatures in the world cannot annihilate it. How doth friendship between God and us arise from hence, that Christ is God in our nature?

1. Sin, the cause of division, is taken away.

2. Our nature is pure in Christ, and therefore in Christ God loveth us.

3. Christ being our head of influence conveyeth the same Spirit that is in Him to all His members, and, little by little, by that Spirit, purgeth His Church and maketh her fit for communion with Himself.

4. The second person is God in our nature for this end, to make God and us friends.

( Sibbes, Richard.)

You will find that the presence of one Person pervades the whole book If you go into a British navy yard, or on board a British vessel, and pick up a piece of rope, you will find that there is one little red thread which runs through the whole of it — through every foot of cordage which belongs to the British government; so, if a piece of rope is stolen, it may be cut rote inch pieces, but every piece has the mark which tells where it belongs. It is so with the Bible. You may separate it into a thousand parts, and yet you will find one thought — one great fact running through the whole of it. You will find it constantly pointing and referring to one great Personage. Around this one mighty Personage this whole book revolves. "To Him give all the prophets witness."

(H. L. Hastings.)

Immanuel
The three names taken together would mean this — the Assyrians would spoil the countries of Syria and Ephraim, and though they would threaten Judah, God would be with His people, and save them, and so a remnant would For left which would return at once to religious faith and to national prosperity. For these two last are almost always associated in the prophet's view.

(F. H. Woods, B. D.)

When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews saw quite clearly that this was indeed nothing less than the claim to be Divine, and they cried out that this was blasphemy. And what was His reply? Jesus reminded His hearers that the earliest judges and leaders of the people of Israel, as testified by the language of their Scriptures, had been called gods. "Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?" The judges and rulers of the early days of Israel had been called gods because their office and function was just this — to represent God on earth to men, to reflect His character, and do His will, and lead His people. They often failed to do this because they were merely human. In some cases they were false to their trust, and then God's vengeance overtook them. Yet they pointed to that one far-off Divine event when One who should perfectly fulfil that name was to interpose for the world's deliverance. And thus, just as the implied prophecy in calling men gods was to be one day fulfilled, so the prophecy of Isaiah before us was also a prophecy of that same later far-off event, when one who was in every sense "God with us" should come to satisfy the needs and the longings of the human heart.

(Canon Ainger.)

"God with us." This means omnipotence with us, omniscience with us, perfection with us, and the love that never fails. Some of us, perhaps, have tried, in conformity with the passion for getting rid of the supernatural that marks the latest struggle of the scientific world, to construct a new religion out of the old, in which the same pathetic and lovely figure as before shall be placed beside us for our example, but from whom the aureole of Deity has been taken away; they have been trying to find all that life needs in the presence only of a fellow man, however superior to ourselves in holiness and purity. There are moments in our lives when we feel ourselves face to face with sin, in the presence of sorrow or of death from which no man can deliver us. In the sad hours of your life, it has been said, the recollection of that Man you read of in your childhood, the Man of sorrows, the great Sympathiser with human woes and sufferings, rises up before you. I know it is a reality for you then, for you feel it to be not only beautiful but true. In such moments does it seem to you as if Christ were merely a person who eighteen hundred years ago made certain journeying between Judea and Galilee? Can such a recollection fill up the blank which some present grief, the loss of some friend, has made in your heart? It does not. It never did this for you or for anyone. But the comfort that came to you from the thought of Him may be safely trusted not to betray you, for that voice that came to you in your anguish says, "You may trust Me, you may lean upon Me, for I know all things in heaven and earth. I and My Father are one."

(Canon Ainger.)

Nature, God, and Jesus are words often used to designate the same power or being, but are suggestive of very different associations. The word "nature" veils from our view the glory of the Godhead, and removes His personality from our consciousness. It removes the Deity to a distance from us, but Jesus, the newer and better name, the latest revelation, brings Him nearer to us. The associations of the name Jesus, as a name of God, are most tender and endearing. Jesus does not remind us of blind power or unfeeling skill, as the word nature does; nor yet of overwhelming greatness, distant force and vast intelligence, the conception of which strains our faculties, and the realisation of which crushes our power, as the word God does. The name of Jesus reminds us chiefly of sympathy, kindheartedness, brotherly tenderness, and one-ness with ourselves. The word God presents a picture of the Deity to the mind, in which those attributes of the Divine character which are in themselves most removed from us, occupy the most prominent position, and are bathed with a flood of light, while those features of character, by which the Divine Spirit touches the delicate chords of human affections, are dimly seen amid the darkening shadows of the background. The picture is reversed in Jesus. The great attributes are buried in the light of love, as the stars are covered by the light of day.

(Evan Lewis, B. A.)

Isaiah may have meant the Name to speak to him as well as to the nation. He may have desired to bring the message of the Name into his personal and family life. For, after all, a prophet is but a man of like passions with" ourselves, subject to the same infirmities and fluctuations of spirit, "warmed and cooled, by the same winter and summer." There were times, no doubt, when even Isaiah lost faith in his own function, in his own message, when the very man who had assured a sinful nation that God was with them could hardly believe that God was with him or could even cry out, "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!" And in such moments as these, when, weary of the world and weary of himself, he lost courage and hope, he may have felt that it would be well for him to have that in his very household which would help to recall the truths he had recognised and taught in hours of clearer insight, help to restore the faith with which he had first sprung up to greet the Divine message. We may believe that there were many darkened hours in his experience, hours of broken faith and defeated hope, when he would fall back on his earlier faith and brighter hopes; when he would call his little son to him, and, as he fondled him, would repeat his name, Immanuel, Immanuel — God-with-us, God-with-us, — and find in that Name a charm potent to restore his waning trust in the gracious presence and gracious will of Jehovah.

("Niger" in Expositor.)

Isaiah may have felt, as we feel, that God is with a little child in quite another sense, in a more pathetic sense, than He is with grown men. To him, as to us, their innocence, their loveliness, and, above all, their love, may have been the most exquisite revelation of the purity and love of God. "Heaven lies about their infancy"; and in this heaven the prophet may often have taken refuge from his cares, despondencies, and fears. Every child born into the world brings this message to us, reminds us that God is with us indeed and of a truth; for whence did this new, pure, tender life come if not from the central Fountain of life and purity and love? And from this point of view Isaiah's "Immanuel" is but the ancient analogue of our Lord's tender words: Of such is the kingdom of heaven."

("Niger" in Expositor.)

The text is prophecy of the Messiah (Matthew 1:23).

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH IT WAS SPOKEN.

II. ITS FULFILMENT. For more than seven hundred years devout Jews waited for the Divinely predicted sign. Then came the day which Christmas commemorates,

III. ITS PRACTICAL IMPORT. To Christians this prophecy is significant of those blessings which are pledged to us in Christ. In Him we have the assurance of God being —

1. With us in the sense of on our side. Nature shows us God as above us; law shows us God as against us, because we have made ourselves His enemies; but the Gospel shows us God with us to defend us from the. power of sin and to deliver us from the penalty of sin.

2. With us in the sense of in our nature. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us"; became one of ourselves, shared with us —(1) The trials of a human life;(2) The temptations which assail us;(3) The penalty of sin — death of the body, the hiding of God's countenance. And so in Christ Jesus we the pledge of the three cardinal blessings of all Divine revelation —(a) The Divine sympathy, because He is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."(b) The Divine salvation, because He has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."(c) The Divine succour, because He "ever liveth to make intercession" for us; and His parting word to His Church is, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

(T. H. Barnett.)

Professor Tyndall has told us how, as he wandered through the higher Alpine pastures in the earlier months of the present summer (1879), he was often surprised to find at evening lovely flowers in full bloom where in the morning he had seen only a wide thin sheet of snow. Struck with the strange phenomenon, unable to believe that a few hours of even the most fervent sunshine had drawn these exquisite flowers to their full maturity, he carefully scraped away the snow from a few inches of pasture and examined the plants that were growing beneath it. And, to his surprise and delight, he found that the powers of life had been with them even while they seemed wrapped in death; that the sun had reached them through the snow; that the snow itself had both held down the rising warmth of the earth upon them, and sheltered them from the cold biting winds which might else have destroyed them. There they stood, each full grown, every flower maturely developed, though the green calyx was carefully folded over the delicately coloured petals; and no sooner was the snow removed, no sooner did the rays of the sun touch the green enfolding calyx, than it opened and revealed the perfect beauty it had shrouded and preserved. And so, doubtless, we shall one day find that God, our Sun, has been with us even during the winter of our self-discontent, all through the hours of apparent failure and inertness, quickening in us a life of which we gave but little sign, maturing and making us perfect by the things we suffered; so that when the hindering veils are withdrawn, and the full light of His love shines upon us, at that gracious touch we too may disclose a beauty of which we had not dreamed, and of Which for long we gave no promise.

("Niger" in Expositor.)

Christian Endeavor.
A Mohammedan in Africa was once taken prisoner in war. He wore suspended around his neck an amulet or charm. When this was taken from him he became almost frenzied with grief, and begged that it be returned to him He was willing to sacrifice his right hand for it. It was his peculiar treasure, which he valued as life itself. It was a very simple affair — A little leather case enclosing a slip of paper on which was inscribed in Arabic characters one word — "God." He believed that the wearing of this charm secured for him a blessed immunity from ill. When it was returned to him he was so overjoyed that the tears streamed from his eyes, and falling to the ground he kissed the feet of the man who restored to him his treasure. That poor man had but the bare name — we have God! Not a distant monarch seated lonesomely away from any human voice or footstep. There is one name that ought to be dearest of all to every Christian — "Immanuel." It means not a Deity remote or hidden, but "God with us."

(Christian Endeavor.)

Gates of Imagery.
An old poet has represented the Son of God as having the stars for His crown, the sky for His azure mantle, the clouds for His bow, and the fire for His spear. He rode forth in His majestic robes of glory, but one day resolved to alight on the earth, and descended, undressing Himself on the way. When asked what He would wear, He replied, with a smile, "that He had new clothes making down below."

(Gates of Imagery.)

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