Isaiah now turns his attention from the internal condition of Judah to the realm of international politics. The historical background of chapters 7:1-10:4 is the so-called Syro-Ephraimitic confederacy, when King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel conspired against Judah (735 BC). Ahaz of Judah, overcome with panic (7:2), rejected the counsel of Isaiah that he should trust in God (7:3, 4), and appealed to King Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria, an act which Isaiah predicted would have disastrous consequences in the end, even though at first apparently successful (7:17-8:4).
- What did Ahaz lose, both personally and politically, through his refusal to trust in the Lord?
- How is the historical ‘sign’ to be given to Ahaz a foreshadowing of the future coming of the Messiah? Cf. Matt. 1:21-23. In daily experience do you know Christ as ‘Immanuel’ – God with us’?
- How could the Lord be both a sanctuary and a stumbling block (8:13-15), and how can he be to us the former and not the latter? Cf. 1 Pet. 2:7, 8.
- The two names, Shear-Jashub (‘A remnant shall return’) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (‘Speed, spoil, haste, prey’), sum up Isaiah’s double message of doom and hope.
- 7:3. Ahaz was probably making preparation for the siege when Isaiah met him.
- 7:14-16. The primary meaning seems to be that before a certain child (as yet unborn) emerges from infancy, his diet will have to be limited to curds and honey, since the devastated land will yield no better food (7:21, 22). But the child’s remarkable name, and the mention of the ‘young woman’ or ‘virgin’ (mg; cf. Matt. 1) who is to be his mother, provide a prophetic reference to the Messiah.
- 8:6. ‘The waters of Shiloah’: i.e., the water supplies of Jerusalem, dependent on subterranean springs and reservoirs under the temple area, here used symbolically of God’s providence. The phrase ‘this people’ must refer either to Israel of a pro-Syrian party in Judah, unless, as some think the verb Isaiah used was not the word ‘rejoice’ (AV, RV, NIV), but a word of similar letters meaning ‘faint before’ (‘melt in fear before,’ RSV).