7:12 – But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”
Nope, he won’t ask for it. WHAT! Why not?! I think it’s because Ahaz has already made his plans, and God’s not in them. If he asked for the sign, clearly God would have done it, and Ahaz would be required to believe God and forget the option of asking another nation for back up. On the other hand if he did not ask for this sign Ahaz knew that Isaiah would expose his own evil heart, unmasking him before the whole nation. So rather than putting himself in a position to trust God or expose himself before the people, he decides to hide his intentions and mask his choice in religious language. This makes the rejection even more hideous in God’s eyes. Not only is he refusing to obey God, he quotes Scripture to do so! Doesn’t he know that it’s not testing God to do what God says?! His choice reveals that he hates the Lord and would rather lean on his own understanding. To reject such a command is the essence of stupidity. No wonder Ahaz is the king frequently named in Proverbs as the personification of foolishness.
7:13-17 – “And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. The LORD will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”
Well, Ahaz’s really done it now. He must know that what he has just done, in rejecting the Isaiah’s God, will affect more than just himself. God’s patience has grown thin, and God discloses to that He’ll give them a sign anyway. But when we hear what the sign is, we think “What? There are two huge nations in Judah’s backyard ready to tear them apart, and God is talking about a child that isn’t even born yet?” Yes.
I should say here that conservative theologians have historically been very eager to interpret this prophecy in light of Jesus’ birth and very un-eager to interpret this passage in its historical context to Ahaz and Judah; while on the other hand liberal theologians have been very eager to interpret this prophecy in light of the historical context to Ahaz and Judah while being very un-eager to interpret a messianic meaning out of the passage. So what are we to do with this? Here’s what I think God is doing in this passage.
I think it’s completely correct to interpret this passage in light of Jesus – He is this Child! But, this prophecy about the Messiah’s birth also has real significance for Ahaz and Judah in their current situation. The meaning is that this Child to come, Jesus, will reject evil and choose good because He (as our Savior) will not do what our first parents did, namely, choose evil. In this manner the Child to come, is called Immanuel, because by His works of choosing good, the people of God will be ushered into the presence of the best and most enjoyable good ever, God Himself!