The Greatest Offer in History – Turned Down

King Ahaz knew the reputation of Isaiah who had prophesied to two previous kings, his father King Jotham and grandfather King Uzziah.[1] When the prophet spoke, Ahaz was fully aware that Isaiah was speaking directly for God. How then did the King botch the greatest opportunity offered by God to a man?

Ten generations earlier, the House of David was split by God as a punishment for worshiping pagan gods Sidonian goddess Astarte, Moabite god Chemosh and Ammonite god Milcom.[2] For David’s sake and to preserve His chosen home, Jerusalem, God retained the city and split off 10 tribes of Israel whom He promised to bless if they followed God like David had done.[3]

King Rehoboam, son of Solomon, ruled the nation of Judah in Jerusalem while the 10 tribes followed Jeroboam, son of Nebat from the tribe of Ephraim, who became their King of the nation Israel.[4] The two nations became enemies and with time fractured even further when the tribes Manasseh and Ephraim split off from Israel warring with each other and then allying against Judah. [5]

During the reign of Ahaz, King Pekah of Ephraim allied with King Rezin of Syria (Aram or the Arameans) to attack Judah besieging Jerusalem. Inside the city, Ahaz and the people were greatly distressed.[6]

To calm their fears, God sent Isaiah promising protection to Jerusalem and King Ahaz, even foretelling that Ephraim as a nation would be eliminated within 65 years.[7] To assure the shaken King of God’s promise, Ahaz was given the unprecedented opportunity to ask for a miraculous sign with boundless limitations – any sign between Heaven and Hell to prove His promise was indisputable:

Is 7:11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”(NASB)

Unbelievably, King Ahaz refused to take the offer! He said to Isaiah, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”[8] Knowing the true reason for Ahaz’ response and not taking kindly to this attitude, Isaiah’s response certainly didn’t ease the King’s anxieties.

“Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?”[9] Now no longer speaking just to the King, Isaiah’s response addressed a much broader audience, “Listen now, O house of David!”[10] Isaiah’s response to Ahaz’ attitude in was, in effect, “let me tell the House of David about God’s marvelous sign!”

Unequivocal parameters of the sign had already been established, the bar had been raised to the highest possible level – the sign had to be something between Heaven and Hell so fantastic, so exceptional, it would be impossibly miraculous:

Is 7:14: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (NKJV)

Three explicit details make the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy precise. The prophesied female would be a specific virgin, “the virgin.” The reference to a specific virgin female was used never before or since by Isaiah, in fact, only twice previously in Hebrew Biblical history – Rebekah, the virgin bride of Isaac, and Miriam, the virgin sister of Moses.[11] Gender of the virgin’s child was foretold to be a boy named by God, also a Biblical rarity.

Various rationalizations are proposed claiming Isaiah 7:14 is not a Messiah prophecy. Some argue the prediction was really about an unidentified young female who was present with King Ahaz and Isaiah, even going so far as to say the female was already pregnant.[12] Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi taught that the prophecy was about Manoah’s wife, mother of Sampson, the Biblical strongman.[13]

Others contend the Christian Bible translations are a mistranslation, a misinterpretation, or an error.[14] A few go so far as to accuse Christians of a conspiracy to intentionally change the text as a false means to support Christianity.

Science discoveries and technology advancements say otherwise. The Qumran discovery of the complete Great Isaiah Scroll written in ancient Hebrew in 125 BC, a century before Jesus of Nazareth was born, contains the Isaiah 7:14 Hebrew words ha-almah, “the virgin.”[15]

King Ahaz declined the opportunity to choose any sign between Heaven and Hell and as a result God provided a prophetic sign that was seemingly impossible – a virgin birth.  Was it a Messiah prophecy? The test of truth is straightforward – would a virgin female’s conception of a baby boy rise to the level of an unparalleled, matchless sign of God?

 

Updated February 25, 2022.

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REFERENCES:

[1] 2 Chronicles 26.22-23; 27:1-2; 2 Kings 15:32-34, 38; Isaiah 1:1; 7:1.
[2] I Kings 11:4-8, 33; I Chronicles 3:10-13.
[3] I Kings 11:26-49.
[4] I Kings 12:16-20, 26.
[5] I Kings 14:30. Isaiah 9:21.
[6] Isaiah 7:2.
[7] Isaiah 7:2, 8.
[8] Isaiah 7:12. NASB, NKJV.
[9] Isaiah 7:13.
[10] NKJV.
[11] Isaiah 7:14. Bible Hub. Hebrew text. <https://biblehub.com/text/isaiah/7-14.htm>  Genesis 24:43. Bible Hub. Hebrew text. <https://biblehub.com/text/genesis/24-43.htm>  Exodus 2:8. Hebrew text. BibleHub. <https://biblehub.com/text/exodus/2-8.htm>
[12] Nahigian, Kenneth E. “A Virgin-Birth Prophesy?” Skeptic Tank Files. n.d. <http://www.skeptictank.org/files/sr/2virgi93.htm>  Cramer, Robert Nguyen.  “The Book of Isaiah.”  The BibleTexts.com.. 1998 <http://www.bibletexts.com/verses/v-isa.htm>  Cline, Austin. “Who Was Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus? Was She Really a Virgin?” About.com|Agnosticism/Atheism. n.d. <http://atheism.about.com/od/biblepeoplenewtestament/p/MaryVirgin.htm>  Yosef, Uri.  “Isaiah 7:14 – Part 1: An Accurate Grammatical Analysis.” The Jewish Home. 2011. <http://thejewishhome.org/counter/Isa714_1.pdf>  Bratcher, Dennis. “Isaiah 7:14: Translation Issues.”  The Voice. 10 Feb. 2014.  <http://www.crivoice.org/isa7-14.htmlThe Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi Commentary. Yeshayahu- Isaiah 7:14.   <https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15938/showrashi/true>  “Who is the Almah’s son?” Teshuvas HaMinim. 2011. <http://web.archive.org/web/20120425022737/http://www.teshuvashaminim.com/isaiah714.html>
Robinson, B.A. “Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive…”” Religious Tolerance. 2007  <http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_proi.htm>  Gill. John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible.  Isaiah 7:14 commentary. <https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-7.html>
[13] The Compete Jewish Bible- with Rashi Commentary. Isaiah 7:14, CR Judges Chapter 13.
[14] Nahigian. “A Virgin-Birth Prophesy?”  Cramer. “The Book of Isaiah.”  Cline, Austin. “Who Was Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus? Was She Really a Virgin?” Yosef, Uri. “Isaiah 7:14 – Part 1: An Accurate Grammatical Analysis.” Bratcher, Dennis. “Isaiah 7:14: Translation Issues.”
[15] “Isaiah 7:14-Deception In The Name Of Jesus.” Agnostic Review of Christianity. n.d.  <http://agnosticreview.com/isaiah7.htm>  Miller. Fred P. “The Translation of the Great Isaiah Scroll.” Book of Isaiah. Column VI Isa 6:7 to 7:15. 2001. <http://www.moellerhaus.com/qa-tran.htm>  Miller. Fred P. “Commentary on Isaiah – In-depth verse-by-verse study of Isaiah.” Moellerhaus Publisher. 1999. <http://moellerhaus.com/7-8.htm>  Isaiah 7:14. Bible Hub. Hebrew text. <https://biblehub.com/text/isaiah/7-14.htm>  Isaiah 7:14 BibleHub.com. Interlinear Bible Hebrew text  “5959 [e] hā·‘al·māh”. <http://biblehub.com/interlinear/isaiah/7-14.htmOrthodox Jewish Bible (OJB) translation for Isaiah 7:14. <https://biblehub.com/ojb/isaiah/7.htm>

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