Davidic Covenant in Isaiah
Samuel Lesson #166
2 Samuel 7:8–17, 1 Chronicles 17:11–14
April 2, 2019
“Father, we thank You for forgiveness of sin. Having been believers for many years, help us not to take that more casually or treat it in a less significant manner because we’re so used to it, but realize this is remarkable that we have genuine forgiveness of sin.
“It’s not based on anything we do. We don’t have to make up for our sins or please You by being remorseful. We don’t have to go through various works or things that would somehow assuage our guilt, but we just simply admit and acknowledge our sins to You.
“We’re forgiven because Christ paid the penalty already. With that forgiveness comes cleansing from sin so that sin no longer affects or breaks down our day-by-day fellowship with You.
“Father, we pray that You would help us to be more appreciative of the grace in our lives as we think about it, not being forgetful of the things You have given us each and every day.
“We thank You for what we’re learning as we study the Davidic Covenant and as we see Your plan and purpose working out through Israel’s history and its fulfillment at the first coming of Jesus Christ, knowing that He fulfills these prophecies and promises.
“That strengthens our faith and encourages us that we are not believing some myth or some fairy tale, but that this is the absolute truth, which transforms who we are. Father, we pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are studying about the Davidic Covenant. We went through the key passages for the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7:8–17 and 1 Chronicles 17:11–14. Now what we’re doing is looking at how the Davidic Covenant works its way out through the Scriptures through the events and prophecies that come after the time of David. We see how they are fulfilled in Jesus and how they are referred to and alluded to in the New Testament.
That’s important because it strengthens our confidence in the truthfulness of Scripture and the accuracy of Scripture. We have studied a little bit about covenants. I’ve been reminding you that a covenant is a legal document. It can be between two who are peers. It can be between a superior and an inferior. It can be a gift and it can be given in order to motivate.
The one that was given to motivate obedience in Israel was the Mosaic Covenant. It was patterned after what was known as the Suzerain-vassal treaty, but the other covenants such as the Abrahamic, the Land Covenant, and the New Covenant, are all patterned after what was known as a royal grant covenant, which was given as a reward for faithfulness.
Covenants are not a means of salvation. We’ve seen that these promises were made in the Old Testament and they are not fulfilled until the future even though there may be things in history that are similar, but they are not the same.
This has caused a lot of confusion. It’s caused a lot of false teaching or at the very least confusing teaching that has come along such as the idea that we’re already in the Kingdom but it’s not yet fully here. That’s often linked to some erroneous views about the New Covenant, which is not part of our study.
Slides 5 and 6
The Davidic Covenant is a very distinct covenant and emphasizes this fulfillment that is related to Jesus’ first coming and presenting the Kingdom. As we look at this, we see that the Abrahamic Covenant is given to Abraham in approximately 2000 BC.
There are the three components to the Abrahamic Covenant. They are God’s promise of a land, which is a specific piece of real estate that would be the possession of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in perpetuity.
The second component was that there is a Seed and through this Seed, all nations would be blessed. The third is that there would be this worldwide blessing. So these are then developed later on in what I call the Real Estate or the Land Covenant that is developed in Deuteronomy 30.
Then also the Davidic Covenant, which is what we’re studying in 2 Samuel 7, and the New Covenant are all fulfilled in the future. When we go through all these different passages that go through when the New Covenant is implemented, it’s to be when there’s a descendant of David on the throne in Jerusalem.
It’s a physical, geophysical kingdom located on earth. It’s not a spiritualized kingdom. This is one of those errors that developed in the late 19th century. You have your trinity of bad guys in the middle of the 20th century. You have Darwin, Marx, and Freud. They significantly shifted the whole focus of western civilization. They borrowed a lot of ideas from Christianity at the same time rejecting anything that was Christian.
They developed this idea that man could bring in a utopia. This is Satan’s great lie that human beings can bring in a great utopia and that we’re not really sinful. All of this is based on the idea that we’re not really corrupt; we’re not really that bad. We can do bad things, but we’re not really sinners or corrupt or spiritually dead. We can do good things.
If human beings are innately good as opposed to innately evil then they can be improved upon. If you’re basically good then you can be perfected. If you’re not basically good then you can be improved a little but you can’t be perfected.
This has a political implications that developed in the late 19th century, which were different forms of utopic ideas that man can bring in a utopic kingdom. The liberals, who were influenced by 19th century German rationalism and liberalism, tweaked their understanding of the Bible. They still used biblical language but they were talking about the fact that we could improve society and that was the real purpose of the gospel.
That became known as the social gospel. They said that we would continue to improve society and man would get better and better until this utopia would be reached. Then the Messiah would come, if there were a Messiah. Walter Rauschenbusch was sort of the father of the social gospel movement.
Today we’ve modified that terminology and it’s the social justice movement, but it’s a perversion of a Christian idea that history is linear and moving towards a perfect society. The Bible teaches that history is linear and it’s moving toward a perfect society and that’s the perfect society of the Messianic Kingdom when the Lord Jesus Christ will rule on the throne of David from Jerusalem.
We won’t have true biblical justice in society until that takes place. Until that takes place, men will rule other men and because of sin, they will always be corrupt. That’s why it’s necessary to have checks and balances in any government that will actually work in order to prevent evil men from tyrannizing others.
The Davidic Covenant has implications for political theory and a theory of justice. As you go through a lot of these passages, especially in the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, there’s condemnation of Israel and Judah because of injustice. It’s not because the government wasn’t taking care of the poor. It’s because the people in the culture had paganized and rejected biblical truth so they had no compassion or care on a personal level for those who were less fortunate.
That’s where you have to start building your whole concept of biblical justice and what the Scripture teaches is that this is just going to be a continuous cycle throughout history until the Messiah comes and destroys evil and sends Satan into the Abyss and chains him there for a thousand years. That’s the first time that we’ll have true, perfect government because we’ll have a true, perfect king.
That’s sort of the background for understanding the Davidic Covenant and we worked through this looking at several things. The Abrahamic Covenant focusing on those three things—land, seed, and blessing—are further developed in additional covenants.
These covenants are ironclad contracts that God has made with the Jewish people, first through Abraham and then in terms of the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. They’re unconditional. They’re eternal. They’ll never be rolled back and this is why it is so important to be “philo-Semitic” as opposed to anti-Semitic.
It’s interesting when we were at AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee national policy conference one week ago, the speakers consistently talked about the rise and increase of anti-Semitism today. It’s getting worse and worse in Europe. It’s far worse than what’s been reported in the American mainstream media.
You have to look at media that’s published in Israel or look at some of the other media such as Gatestone Institute to get a true picture. It does an outstanding job of reporting about what is going on in Europe. There you learn how horrible this is. There are increasing incidents in the United States, too.
We hear about politicians, some of the new Muslim politicians, who are making horrific, anti-Semitic statements. The Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect. Those who bless Israel, God will bless. Those who curse Israel, God will curse. That applies to everyone, whether it’s individual in terms of your next-door neighbor, or whether he or she is disparaging the nation of Israel.
That’s been true throughout history. I’ve heard some people from some political persuasions who think that because the Jews rejected Jesus and were out under the 5th cycle of discipline that it no longer applies today. It applies for today in the same way that it applied in the Old Testament.
When God destroyed Israel through the use of the Babylonians in 586 BC, and earlier the Assyrians, because they both turned anti-Semitic, God later destroyed those nations. God used the Persians to destroy the Babylonians and then, under the Assyrian administration, that’s when you have the incident with Artaxerxes and Hadassah in the Hebrew but Esther in the English.
The anti-Semitism of Haman was punished. That was just celebrated a month ago in the Jewish community. Their remembrance of that event where God protected them is the Purim holiday. That is an incident when Israel was out under the 5th cycle of discipline. They’re scattered throughout the nations. They were not necessarily focused on God or obedient to God or religious at all.
In fact, when you read through Esther you never see the name of God mentioned. You don’t see any prayers or anything of that nature but God is still true to the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s unconditional and even when the Jews and Israel are in disobedience to God, God is going to be faithful to them.
What’s the point of application of that? When you are out of fellowship, when you’re in rebellion to God, when you are disobedient, God is still going to be faithful to you. God is still going to be gracious to you and provide for you, just as He’s done for the Jews.
It doesn’t mean you won’t go through divine discipline. We’ll study the great divine discipline that David goes through after his sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah coming up in 2 Samuel 10, but the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect so that means we are to be very pro-Jewish and pro-Israel.
Pro-Israel doesn’t mean you agree with everything the Israeli government wants to do, all their policies. Most Jews don’t agree. You know there’s a proverb that where you have two Jews you have three opinions. In Israel there are like eighteen or twenty political parties. That means there are about fifteen political parties that aren’t part of the rule at any given time and they don’t agree with what the government is doing.
That’s not what we mean by supporting Israel. We support their right to defend themselves as a nation. We support their right to live as a nation and their right to live and exist in peace without having to worry about terrorists blowing them up or planting IEDs or flying firebombs with kites over their land and burning their crops. They have a right to a peaceful existence.
The Davidic Covenant, as we’ve seen, is a specific promise to David of an eternal house, a dynasty that will end with an eternal Person, an eternal Kingdom, which means that eternal Person is their king, and there will be an eternal throne.
Last time I pointed out these two words, diachronic and intertextual. Good words to learn. Diachronic, “dia” means through, “chronic” from CHRONOS meaning time. That’s how we study a word. We see how Moses used the word, later how Samuel used the word, later how David used the word, and how Isaiah and Jeremiah used it. The words change meaning or they modify a little bit over time so you study a word or an idea or a doctrine as it’s developed through time.
That’s what we’re doing here. We’re looking at how the Davidic Covenant is used and referred to over time in the Old Testament.
Intertextual is a term that is describing how a phrase or word picks up on something related to something like the Davidic Covenant from one text that is from Psalms, Isaiah, or Jeremiah and how they allude back to the Davidic Covenant.
I broke this down for you in terms of this chronology. We started off with Hosea and Amos and now we’re looking at Isaiah. These were prophets in the 8th century leading up to the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, which occurred in 720 BC.
We probably won’t finish all the Isaiah references I want to look at tonight, but we’ll probably come back at a later time, finish Isaiah, then look at Jeremiah, and a couple of passages in Ezekiel and Zechariah. That’s all I’m going to do. There are just dozens of these passages.
If you were here for the Chafer Conference and you heard Steve Ger go through all of those Messianic prophecies, just one after another as he moved very quickly and dug down very much in each of those prophecies, you may have just gotten overwhelmed by the fact that there’s a lot of different prophecies.
We get into Isaiah and one of the key words that develop in the Major Prophets; a key term that refers to Messiah is the name or title that He is the Branch. He is the branch that comes out of the stump of Jesse. So the idea of a stump is that a tree has been cut down so it’s no longer growing. The sawdust is dead so Jesse, the father of David, is viewed as the stump.
Then there’s this green branch that begins to grow out of what was thought to be a dead stump. It is that green branch that will eventually grow and flourish. That is a picture of the Messiah who will come. He is a descendant who will come, coming out of the root of Jesse, and He will bring blessing to the nations.
This terminology actually goes back, as I pointed out several weeks ago in 2 Samuel 23:5, in a psalm written by David where he says, “Although my house is not so with God, yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and secure. For this is all my salvation and my desire; Will He not make it increase?”
That is how it’s translated in the English but the word there that is used in the Hebrew is the word tzamach in the verb form. “Will He not make it grow or sprout or branch?” That’s the root. The noun that is used is tzamach, which also means a branch or a sprout.
This idea of the branch is seen in Isaiah 4:2 and Jeremiah 23:5–6 where it is talking about the branch of David, and my servant, the branch in Zechariah 3:8. The “man whose name is the branch” is found in Zechariah 6:12. Those are not all the passages we’re going to look to but those are the ones that mention the branch.
Then when we come to the end of the Bible we have a statement in Revelation 22:16, almost the last verse of the Bible. It’s within five verses [of the end]. “I, Jesus, have seen My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
Here Jesus picks up all of this imagery. If you don’t know Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Zechariah in these passages, then you don’t catch what He’s saying. He says He is the root and the offspring of David. He’s talking about Himself as the branch. He calls Himself the Bright and Morning Star.
So we’ve started to look at this to some degree some weeks ago in Isaiah 4:2. Turn with me in your Bibles and we’ll just review and I’ll add a few things to what I said a couple of weeks ago in Isaiah chapter 4, verse 2. As we look at this we talk about Isaiah.
One of these days I’m going to teach Isaiah but it won’t be a verse-by-verse and it won’t take ten years. Isaiah is arguably the most Messianic of the Old Testament prophets. He addresses the current problems, failures, and current sins of Judah by telling them that eventually they’ll be judged by God. They’ll be taken out, taken captive by Assyria. They’ll be taken out again and destroyed by Babylon and they would eventually return back to the Land but there would not be a resolution to the problem until the future Davidic King, the one who fulfills the covenant with David, would arrive. He would be called Immanuel.
What we’ll look at mostly tonight is that section in Isaiah 7, 8, and 9 that’s called the Immanuel section. “He will come as a servant king”—that’s described later in Isaiah 42 and Isaiah 49 and 50 as well as in Isaiah 53 where the aspect of His servanthood is further defined as the substitute who will justify the many, which is in Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12.
Then as you continue to read in Isaiah we’re told about the remnant that will be saved, the establishment of the Kingdom, and the coming of the future Messianic King all through those latter chapters in Isaiah. Earlier, though, you have Messianic prophecy in Isaiah.
Isaiah 4:2, “In that day the Branch of the Lord—literally, it’s the Branch from Yahweh—shall be beautiful and glorious and the fruit of the earth will be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped.” That’s talking about the remnant. So right away we’re told the blessing that comes from the Branch is for the remnant. The remnant is the term that is used for the believers in Israel, those who were faithful to the Lord, believed in Him for salvation, were justified, and were obedient to the Lord.
The context here warns of a judgment that is described in the first verse of Isaiah 4:1. Then in Isaiah 4:2 it starts off with a phrase that is significant in Isaiah. Many times he says “in that day”. More often than not when he talks about “in that day” it is talking about the time of judgment to come. “In that day of the Lord” usually is what the reference is to.
That term “day of the Lord”, although it’s applied several times to historic judgments, for the most part they are yet unfulfilled judgments and are referring to that time of judgment, which we refer to as the Tribulation. That is, seven years, the last seven years of Daniel’s timetable from Daniel 7. That’s the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s Trouble specifically related to God’s final judgment on unbelieving Israel and bringing them to an understanding of who the Messiah is, so they will believe in the Messiah at that time.
It’s talking about that time of judgment described in verse 1 as “in that day” when the Messiah comes. It’s at the end of that time period when Israel turns back to God. We saw that in Hosea 3 and in Isaiah 3:4 that there’s an order from Deuteronomy 30:1–3 to Hosea 3, 4, and 5 where first Israel turns back to God, God regathers them to the Land, and then establishes that end time of the Davidic Kingdom.
In Isaiah 4:2, “In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious.” One thing we ought to note there that’s not clear from the English translation and it’s not necessarily that obvious from the Hebrew either. You just have two words and it’s in what you call a construct state, which is a confusing grammatical term but it indicates that the Lord is in the genitive. He’s the source so it’s not the Branch simply of the Lord but from the Lord. It’s showing the source of the Branch that the Messiah is given by the Lord to His people, Israel, so it is the Branch from the Lord.
Then we have the statement that comes up next that He is “beautiful and glorious”. These are words, especially beautiful, which is more often used of God, not so much of human beings, so that indicates deity.
What really indicates that the Branch of the Lord is divine as well as human is what we read when we get down into verses 4 and 5. What happens is that those who are under judgment in verse 1 are cleansed in verses 4 and 5. Isaiah 4:4–5, “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion …”
This isn’t talking about just getting a bath. This isn’t talking about the physical removal of dirt from the flesh as Peter puts it in 2 Peter. This is talking about spiritual cleansing. That imagery of being washed physically is used throughout Exodus in talking about the cleansing of the priests.
When a high priest was initially installed in his office he was washed from head to toe, because that initial washing was a picture of his being completely cleansed of sin as a new believer. It’s analogous to the believer who is completely cleansed of his sin and is positionally forgiven when he’s placed in Christ. And then afterwards anytime the priest is coming to worship the Lord, he had to wash his hands and wash his feet. He didn’t have to take a full bath. That’s the same imagery Jesus used and referred to in John 13 in the Upper Room when He is celebrating the Seder, the Last Supper the night before He went to the Cross.
He’s not simply demonstrating that He is a servant by washing the disciples’ feet. He is teaching them something and this comes out in the conversation with Peter when Peter says, “No, no, Lord. You’re not going to do this. I’m not going to let this happen.”
Jesus makes a really tough statement there. It sounds like He’s really being cruel to Peter. He says, “Peter, if you don’t let Me do this, you will have no part in My Kingdom.” That’s like saying that if he doesn’t let Him wash his feet he’s not going to get into Heaven.
That’s not what he’s saying. First of all “inheriting the Kingdom” is not a synonym for getting into Heaven. It has to do with role and responsibility in the Kingdom. The word translated “part” is not like you’re auditioning for a play or getting cast in a television show and has to do with something related to a role. The word that’s translated there had a more significant meaning in Greek and it’s the idea of inheritance.
It’s the portion of your inheritance. This is what the Prodigal Son said when he came to his father and said he wanted his MEROS, his share of his inheritance. That’s what he took and that’s what he squandered and afterwards, ended up in the pig sty with nothing because he was living just to satisfy his own desires.
That’s what Jesus is saying to Peter that if he doesn’t let Him cleanse him, then he wouldn’t have a share in the Kingdom. He would be there but he wouldn’t have an inheritance. There are two words that are used there in the Greek. The first word is the word NIPTO. Greek is more precise than Hebrew. Hebrew just had one word for washing but in Greek they had two words.
They had a word that meant partial washing like when you wash your hands, your feet, and your face, that were just partial washings. That’s what Jesus is using. Then He said, “But all of you—talking about the disciples—except one—talking about Judas Iscariot—have been cleansed …”
Then he uses a different word. He doesn’t use NIPTO. He uses the word LOUO. There he is talking about a complete washing. That is the word you would use talking about getting a bath. That language is significant. If you go back to Exodus 40 when Aaron and his sons are installed as priests they are washed and the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates that initial washing at their installation with the Greek word LOUO but then when it talks about them washing their hands and their feet at the basin going into the Tabernacle, the Greek used the word NIPTO.
Jesus is using those words specifically to show that there’s this comparison. Just as the priest had to be cleansed initially at the initiation when he became a priest, after that he just needed to wash his hands and feet. Jesus is saying that to Peter. Then He goes a little bit further, later on in that same meal, and he tells them this is what they’re to do to one another.
If cleansing has to do with forgiveness, then when Jesus tells them to do this to one another, he’s not talking about being each other’s servant. He’s saying to forgive one another. Then at the end of the whole discussion in John 13:34–35, He says you’re to love one another as He had loved them. How did Jesus love them? He forgave them of their sin, so that’s what He’s teaching through that. He’s saying that you love one another as He has loved them and that means you’re not going to hold grudges. You’re not going to be bitter and angry. You’re going to forgive one another.
All of these ideas go back to these ideas in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 4:4 it is the imagery the Lord is using. It says, “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion …” That’s their sin. That is all of the horrible things that they did in idolatry, including the immolation, the fiery sacrifice of their infants in the arms of Molech and Chemosh.
These sins are going to be washed away and purged. This is the other word, the other synonym that is used for cleansing in the Mosaic Law. It’s talking about the “blood of Jerusalem”, the way she has murdered the prophets, the murder of these infants in the arms of these idols, and all of that. This is going to be cleansed and they are going to go into the Kingdom.
Isaiah 4:4 talks about that forgiveness; that there is a cleansing that takes place. Only God can cleanse so that tells us that the Branch of the Lord forgives and cleanses and only God can do that. This term is also developed in Isaiah and Jeremiah and, as we’ll see, shows that He is human. He is fully human so there are strong hints here that the Branch, the Messiah, is a descendant of David. He’s human and He is also fully God.
If we back up to Isaiah 4:2, it says, “And the fruit of the earth—this is another one of those places where there’s a tendency to translate the Hebrew word “earth” as earth instead of land. When we get into some older Old Testament passages, for example in Numbers 13:26, talking about the spies that went into the land. They came back and what did they bring with them? They brought the same phrase that is in Isaiah 4:2, “the fruit of the land,” where it’s translated correctly. Then it’s stated the same way in Deuteronomy 1:25, “They also took some of the fruit of the land.”
This phrase that we find here in Isaiah 4:2, that the Branch is the fruit of the land, is agricultural imagery. The Branch comes out of the stump and it’s the produce of the land of Israel. It reinforces this idea that this future king, the Branch, is a product of Israel.
Even in the New Testament you have a statement in Hebrews and it alludes to this same thing that the Messiah is a product of Judah. It’s in Hebrews 7:14, “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning the priesthood.” The point is that the Messiah is Jewish. The Messiah comes out of the tribe of Judah.
These inter-connections, this intertextuality, are very important. In fact, it was understood to be this way by the rabbis historically. One of the prayers that was pulled together in the early part of the Church Age in Judaism is called the Amidah. The rabbi prayed it with the congregation joining him on different feast days on the calendar of Israel. I’ve been in the synagogue before where they prayed the prayer of the Amidah. It’s got a series of lessons.
The 15th Benediction is “Speedily cause the Branch of the servant of David to flourish.” That’s right there in the Amidah but they don’t know what that means. The Branch of our servant David refers to the Messiah. They may recognize that and they’re praying for the Messiah to flourish, to come forth, to “exalt His horn by Your salvation because we hope for Your salvation all the day. Blessed are You, O Lord, who causes the horn of salvation to flourish.”
They’re praying for the Messiah to come. Sadly they don’t recognize that the Messiah has already come and is here.
We see some important things here about the Branch. The Branch is from Israel, from the land. The Branch is both God and man and the Branch is going to be connected to the House of David.
Now the next passage I want us to look at tonight that connects to the house of David and to the Davidic Covenant is in Isaiah 7. This is a passage that we all know, including all Christians whatever stripe you may be. If you’re a Christian and you sing Christmas carols then sooner or later you’re going to sing Christmas carols that talk about the virgin.
If you’re from a Roman Catholic background you pray to the Virgin. In some ways Roman Catholics are more honest about the meaning of this passage than a lot of Protestants are today because they understand that Isaiah 7:14 does literally refer to a virgin conception and birth. Among Protestants this is not so anymore.
The prophecy is given in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign …” Isaiah, as the mouthpiece of God, is talking to King Ahaz who is one of the most evil kings in the Old Testament and in Judah. He is described in related passages in Kings and Chronicles as having sacrificed his children in the arms of Molech. He was an unbeliever. He was an idolater. He committed infanticide by burning up his children in the arms of Molech. He’s just horrible.
Yet God is condescending to him in his unbelief and saying, “Ask for a sign. Ask anything you want. I’ll do it to give you comfort that these guys aren’t going to destroy you.”
In sort of a self-righteous arrogance like a lot of people who reject the truth, the king says, “No, no, no. I’m not going to test God. I’m not going to give God something to do. That would be sacrilegious.” There’s no basis for that but that’s how Ahaz was. We’ve all seen people that way.
Then God says, “I’ll give you a sign. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.” He says, “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son …” God is talking about two things here: a virgin conception and a virgin birth. “And shall call His name Immanuel.”
The name Immanuel is important because it is a title for the Messiah. In context we’re going to learn this person is connected to the house of David. “And they shall call His name Immanuel which is translated, ‘God with us.’ ”
This is then quoted by the angel in talking to Joseph in Matthew 1:23 in citing this because Mary at that time has become pregnant and the angel has announced this fact to Joseph. He tells Joseph exactly what’s going on and quotes from Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew 1:23 says, “ ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,’ which is translated ‘God with us.’ ” The “el” at the end [of Immanuel] is God. The “im” is the Hebrew preposition “with” and then you add a suffix to that, “anu” and that is “us.” So “im” is with, “anu” is us and “el” is God. This is a clear statement that the virgin is human and going to give birth to a human son through a miraculous process of a virgin conception and a virgin birth. But this is not simply a human child. It will be known as “God with us”. This is the clearest prophecy to this point that the Messiah is going to be both fully God and fully man.
Isaiah 7:14 gives us this introduction to the virgin conception. This is a doctrine that is scoffed at by numerous critics of Christianity such as rationalists and others who reject Christianity. Jews also reject it since the time of Jesus. They have sought to re-translate this and make other twists of the Scripture here to make it either apply to something that happened in the 8th century [BC] with Isaiah or it doesn’t really, literally mean a virgin.
We see this even among some so-called evangelicals. A rather controversial pastor named Robert Bell who founded a church up in Michigan called Mars Hill, is a leader in the emergent church movement. He’s published a number of books where he’s made a number of extremely controversial statements, which I consider to be heresy. For example, he has denied there is eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. He teaches that eventually everyone is going to be saved. Those two usually go together but not all that deny a literal eternal Lake of Fire are universalists. Some are nihilists. They just believe that at some point they just go poof and they’re no longer in existence.
In a book Rob Bell wrote called The Velvet Elvis he wrote, “What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly biological father named Larry? Archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the gospel and the gospel writers threw in to appeal to the Mithras and Dionysian liberal cult …”
See that’s this idea that’s out there in liberalism. They believe that the writers of Scripture were not inspired by God, that they got their ideas from other religions and just sort of massaged them around and came up with some sort of new ideas. It’s a complete denial of divine origin or what’s in Scripture.
Their view of inspiration is human inspiration on the order of Shakespeare or John Milton or Mozart and doesn’t have anything to do with objective, divine revelation. This means, to them, that these other cults have a sort of counterfeit virgin birth in some areas so that’s what he’s saying. He thinks we’ll discover that there’s no such thing as a virgin birth.
Then he goes on to say, “But what if you studied the origin of the word ‘virgin’ you discover that the word ‘virgin’ in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah? Then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time the word ‘virgin’ could mean several things. What if you discover that in the 1st century being born to a virgin also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?”
What’s he’s trying to do here is basically going to claim that the word “virgin” doesn’t actually mean virgin, so this doesn’t mean that a miraculous conception and birth took place. That’s not necessary for Christianity whatsoever, he believes.
It just destroys biblical truth. It destroys the value of Scripture and he’s basically just making it up as he goes along which is what the enemies of Christianity tend to do. This is more prominent among Jews who rejected the Messianic claims of Jesus and it’s typical of liberal Christians who deny any kind of divine origin for the Scripture.
The traditional, historical Christian view is that this is a literal prophecy that is literally fulfilled in only one way and that is in the birth of Jesus in approximately 3 or 4 BC. There is a liberal view which I’ve just described where she is just a young woman of marriageable age and then there’s a more popular view you may run into at times from modern scholars that there’s a multiple or dual fulfillment of these prophecies.
I’ve taught this in other places. There’s no such thing as a dual fulfillment. It’s either fulfilled or it “ain’t”. There’s no such thing as partial fulfillment. This is a big issue now in hermeneutics and a huge issue in dispensationalism. You’ll find another of those on the progressive dispensationalism side who come along and say that it was partially fulfilled in Isaiah’s time and then it has its complete fulfillment at the time of Jesus.
Or it was fulfilled at the time of Isaiah and that passage is just sort of massaged by New Testament writers and applied to Jesus. In other words, there’s no literal Messianic prophecy. When I was in seminary I wasn’t even smart enough to realize this was a big issue and it didn’t come clear to me until sometime later.
I was taught this dual fulfillment when I was in seminary. Michael Rydelnik says when he was at Dallas Theological Seminary, which was about my second or third year, he interviewed all the Old Testament professors and not one of them truly believed in Messianic prophecy, so he majored in Greek because he didn’t want to fight battles all the time.
I know at the Chafer Conference when Steve Ger spoke on Messianic prophecies, he said at the time he was at Dallas [Seminary] the Old Testament Department believed there were maybe three or four Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and then Andy Woods was talking afterwards and said that when he was a student in the early 2000s at Dallas Seminary there was only one sure Old Testament Messianic passage and that was Psalm 110:1.
I believe there are many specific, literal prophecies related to Jesus.
So what’s the context here? That’s really important to pay attention to the context. The prophecy is that this is a sign. A sign does not necessarily mean it’s a miracle, but it does mean that it’s so out of the ordinary that it’s going to get everyone’s attention and you’re going to know that it is pointing to something. A sign signifies something significant.
A young maiden getting pregnant and having a baby is not something unusual or significant. It happens every single day. Young girls that are not married get pregnant every day. That’s not so significant. But for a young woman of marriageable age who has never been intimate with a man to conceive and give birth is something that’s going to get everyone’s attention.
That’s exactly what this is talking about. We have to understand a little bit about the background. The background has to do with God’s judgment on Israel and there’s going to be two aspects to this prophecy. It’s not dual fulfillment, but it’s directed two ways. You know that, not in the English, but when you get to Isaiah 7:14 what happens is that you start seeing a shift in the pronouns.
The “you” in the Hebrew is either going to be “y’all” or “you” singular. That is what makes the difference. This happens at a time when the Northern Kingdom is truly in apostasy. All of their kings followed the sin of Jeroboam, the son of Nabat and committed evil.
Just a little word about evil. Evil is a word that modern Americans don’t like. You call someone evil and you’re just off the edge; you’re just out of balance. The problem with that is that the Bible is very specific about the word “evil”.
The evil that was committed by Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, was that he set up alternative worship of idols in the Northern Kingdom, one at Bethel and one in the north at Dan. Watch carefully the word “evil”. The majority of the uses of that word relate to idolatry. So anyone who is worshipping a false god or anyone who is denying the existence of God, anyone who is involved in any sort of worship of any other religion is evil. That’s the biblical definition of the term.
When Christians start compromising on that, they’re compromising on the truth of God’s Word. No one can communicate based on biblical definitions anymore. We have to stand our ground on these issues.
Ahaz is the king of Judah and he’s the son of Uzziah. Uzziah was a man who worshipped the Lord. He committed a sin by being impetuous and he went into the Temple and God judged him for that. He was a leper for the last part of his life. Ahaz is his son and he’s idolatrous.
There’s going to be a coalition between those in the north, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and their king, Pekah and Rezin, king of Syria. So the Syrian king and the king of Israel get together and they say Ahaz is not going to play their “game”, so they need to get rid of him and dump him and replace him with their own puppet king. This is what their plan is.
They’re going to dump Ahaz and they’re going to replace him with someone who is not a descendant of David. This is a Satanic assault on the Davidic line and the Davidic Covenant right off the bat. It isn’t clear until we get to Isaiah 7:2, “And it was told to the house of David …”
Now, all of a sudden, we see that the real issue has to do with the Davidic dynasty and the continuation of the Davidic dynasty on the throne of David. The “house of David” here is another way of talking about Ahaz here because he’s the king. They learn that Syria’s forces are deployed in Ephraim, so what happens?
“His heart and the heart of all people were moved …” They’re shaken. They’re falling apart because they don’t have the military capability to defeat this northern alliance. It’s very picturesque. “Their hearts are moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.” Think about a tornado coming through and how it’s shaking all the trees. That’s the imagery there.
The area we’re talking about on the map is Syria shaded in light tan. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is purple. They’ve joined forces and they’re going to join Judah in the south.
Here’s another map showing the same kind of thing. Here you have Judah in the south. Up here you have Syria, known as Aram in the Old Testament and then the Northern Kingdom. It’s a big battle.
Then the Lord comes along and says to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz and take your son, Shear-jashub, with you.” Very few people, if they’re dealing with any kind of non-virgin interpretation of the passage, will ever tell you why it was necessary to take Shear-jashub with him. The reason is that when you get down to verse 16 where it says “before the child will know how to reject evil and choose the good”, the child mentioned there puts it upper case but it should be lower case. It’s not talking about Immanuel. It’s talking about Shear-jashub. That is the promise to Ahaz so he will know the dominance that’s coming from the Northern Kingdom is not going to last more than sixty-five years.
So he tells Isaiah to go out, he and his son, and meet Ahaz “at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field …” That’s pretty precise, telling Isaiah exactly where it is. This isn’t just some generalization.
This is what Isaiah is to say to Ahaz, “And say to him: ‘Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah.’ ” “Stubs of smoking firebrands”—he uses the word for tail; he’s saying it’s the tail end. When you light a torch and it burns up, the fuel in the torch runs low, the flame diminishes, and it starts to go out and you’re at the tail end of the fire.
That’s what God is saying. When you’re seeing all this excitement and everything they’re doing, they’re just at the tail end of their dominance and their ability to dominate Judah is just about over. In Isaiah 7:5 we read, “Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted against you …” I put in there that this is a second masculine singular. That means he’s talking to Ahaz. They have plotted against him as the house of David.
“Let us go up against Judah and trouble it and make a gap in the wall for ourselves and set a king over them, the son of Tabel …” So, they’re going to bring in this non-Davidic candidate to be the king over Judah and wipe out the house of David.
This isn’t the first time. Remember what happened with Athalieh and Josiah? She tries to kill all her grandchildren but Josiah is hidden and protected by the high priest.
God’s final word to Ahaz is that this won’t stand or come to pass. He says He will overrule all their desires. They may want to destroy you, but I’m going to overrule, God is telling Ahaz.
In Isaiah 7:8 God says, “The head of Syria is Damascus—that’s the capital—and the head of Damascus is Rezin.” He’s the king. “Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a people.” In sixty-five years the Northern Kingdom is going to be gone. The Assyrians are going to wipe it out in 722 BC.
Then in Isaiah 7:9, “The head of Ephraim is Samaria,—that’s the capital city—and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son—that’s Pekah and God address him with a plural—If you will not believe—the nation—surely you shall not be established.”
Isaiah 7:10, “Moreover the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, ‘Ask a sign for yourself—now God shifts from plural talking about the people so now He’s just talking to Ahaz—from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.’ ” That’s a merism; it covers everything, meaning, ask whatever you want. Just like you have “meditate on the Word of God day and night” meaning the two extremes. That means “all the time”. Here “either in the depth or in the height above”, as far as you go down and as far as you go up, means ask whatever you want and I’ll give it to you.
But Ahaz very self-righteously says in Isaiah 7:12, “But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord.’ ” Isaiah 7:13, “Then He [Isaiah] said, ‘Hear now,—notice Isaiah goes back to the plural, which addresses the house of David—O house of David! Is it a small thing for you—house of David—to weary men, but will you weary my God also?” Isaiah is addressing the house of David.
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you—plural—a sign—the sign is to the house of David that this virgin will conceive and bear a son so the bearing of a son is related to a sign of the continuation of the house of David, the eternal dynasty, the eternal throne, the eternal kingdom.
We read in this verse that it’s “the” virgin. It’s not “a” virgin, as some translations put it. It’s “the” virgin indicating a specific virgin. This goes back to the Genesis 3:15 prophecy given to Adam and Eve, “I will put enmity between you—Satan—and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed—that’s the hostility between Satan and the plan of God—and He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
This is called the Proto-evangelium or the first indication of the gospel. This is an indication of a unique birth because you have this phrase “between your seed and her Seed.” Women produce eggs. They do not produce seed. Sperm is what is produced by the male. So saying the woman produces seed indicates something quite unusual. There is a history there related to the virgin that there would be a woman who would give birth to the Seed promised in Genesis 3:15.
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive …” This is the word almah. The word usually translated virgin is betulah but betulah can refer to an older woman who is a virgin. In some cases she’s not a virgin, just an older woman who is looking to get married.
But an almah, though it doesn’t specifically mean a virgin, it refers to a young woman of marriageable age. It’s very young, like 14, 15, or 16 years of age and in our culture that may be almost impossible to find a virgin in that age group. When you’re living in the time of the Mosaic Law and you were not married and you weren’t a virgin you were going to be executed under the Mosaic Law. That meant you wouldn’t find an unmarried young woman who wasn’t a virgin in that culture or in that society.
You can look at various places where almah is used. It’s only used six times in the Old Testament. Three of those don’t give any contextual clues as to its meaning. But in Genesis 24:43 when Eliezer has come looking for a wife for Isaac, he’s praying, “I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass that when the virgin comes out to draw water …” It is understood that one of the young women who came out to draw water from the well would be a virgin.
Also Miriam is referred to as a virgin in Exodus 2:8. She is the younger sister of Moses, who was following him when he was in the basket in the Nile. She came forward to volunteer her mother as a wet nurse.
Also it’s used as a virgin in Song of Solomon 6:8 for those who would accompany the bride in the wedding festival. This is definitely a sign.
Then when you get to Isaiah 7:14 you read, “He will eat curds and honey …” A lot of people look at this and think that indicates some sort of wealth. That’s not what this indicates. Curds are made from an overabundance of dairy. After the Assyrians wiped out the Northern Kingdom and the fields were destroyed so all the people had were their livestock.
You had an abundance of dairy and because you had wildflowers growing in the field, the bees pollinated so you had lots of honey. It indicates the impoverished diets of those who had been defeated in war. The indication there is that the Messiah would be in an environment of oppression. Judah is under the thumb of Rome at the time He came. That’s what that is talking about.
Isaiah 7:16 goes back to “the child” Shear-Jashub saying, “Here is why this will be so before the child knows how to reject evil and choose what is right, the land whose two kings you fear will be dead.”
The two kings will be wiped out because Assyria is coming. They will be defeated and you’re not going to have to worry about their armies anymore. This takes us to the next passage, which we’ll get to next week in Isaiah 9 talking about the various titles of God and Immanuel once again.
It’s really clear. Matthew 1:23 quotes from a literal prophecy that was given and it was fulfilled historically one time and that is when Jesus was born.
“Father, thank You for this time we’ve had to go through this wonderful prophecy showing again and again that you’ve fulfilled a promise to David. You protected the Davidic line. You provided for the coming of the Messiah through the Davidic line as emphasized by Matthew chapter 1, that Jesus was the son of Abraham and the son of David. He was therefore qualified to be the Messiah and the ruler of Israel.
“Father, we pray that we might be strengthened and encouraged knowing how these prophecies were given and how they were fulfilled. We know that You are going to be true to Your promise to David to give his house an eternal kingdom and an eternal throne. His line and rule will go on for an eternal kingdom.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”