In looking at contemporary Middle East events, and in examining their prophetic significance, there is nothing more important for the true Church and faithful believers to do in regard to this pending apocalyptic explosion than to pray for and to work for the salvation in Christ of Jew and Arab. Terrible things will take place in the nations of the Middle East in comparison to which all of the wars and holocausts of the past will appear almost insignificant. The Hebrew Prophets describe this as Israel’s “covenant with death”, (Is. 28: 15, 18) and it will involve, once again, the deception and betrayal by the coming Antichrist. — Jacob Prasch, Harpazo: The Intra-Seal Rapture of the Church
Today, I’m headed back to Isaiah and a Prophecy of Jesus Christ’s birth—Immanuel, “God with us.” Anymore, I keep getting drawn back to the Old Testament Prophets… And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing…
Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, 11 “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!” 13 Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! 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? (Isaiah 7:11-13 NASB).
King Ahaz of Judah was very wicked and had no faith in God. He desired to have help from Assyria in maintaining his rule over Judah, during a time that the kings of Syria and Israel both wanted him deposed. The LORD speaks to Ahaz through the Prophet Isaiah, telling him to ask for a sign for himself, but Ahaz refuses because he does not want to have to acknowledge the LORD.
To “try the patience of God” is to refuse His Promises. Ahaz did not understand or acknowledge the threat of Satan against not himself only but the “house of David.” The other kings wanted to remove Ahaz and replace him with the “son of Tabeal,” and thus do away with the lineage of David. Satan’s plan was to foil the Prophecy given to David concerning the Messiah coming through his family (II Samuel 7:12, 16).
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken (Isaiah 7:14-16 NASB).
Even though Ahaz doesn’t want a sign, there is one given anyway… And it turns out to be perhaps the Greatest Prophecy of all time. The word “Immanuel” literally means “God with us.” Jesus Christ would fulfill this with His Incarnation. This Prophecy was a direct rebuttal to the efforts of Satan working through the kings of Syria and Israel to unseat Ahaz to make void the Promise of God given to David.
The Lord will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria.” 18 In that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is in the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle on the steep ravines, on the ledges of the cliffs, on all the thorn bushes and on all the watering places (Isaiah 7:17-19 NASB).
Now, the LORD prophesies to Ahaz personally. Great were the miseries suffered by the kingdoms since the separation of Israel and Judah, and they would be exceeded by those now to come.
In that day the Lord will shave with a razor, hired from regions beyond the Euphrates (that is, with the king of Assyria), the head and the hair of the legs; and it will also remove the beard. 21 Now in that day a man may keep alive a heifer and a pair of sheep; 22 and because of the abundance of the milk produced he will eat curds, for everyone that is left within the land will eat curds and honey (Isaiah 7:20-22 NASB).
In his inscriptions, Tiglath-Pileser, the Assyrian king who led the invasion of Judah, mentions his carrying off many thousands of horned cattle and sheep from the countries which he overran or conquered.
And it will come about in that day, that every place where there used to be a thousand vines, valued at a thousand shekels of silver, will become briars and thorns. 24 People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns. 25 As for all the hills which used to be cultivated with the hoe, you will not go there for fear of briars and thorns; but they will become a place for pasturing oxen and for sheep to trample (Isaiah 7:23-25 NASB).
After the Assyrian invasion, not even the best vineyards would be cultivated but would lie in waste and grow only “briers and thorns.” The war and destruction of Judah would depopulate the region as they were either killed or taken as slaves. The land that once flowed with “milk and honey,” a land that was God’s choice land and the joy of the whole Earth, was now a barren desert. The “briars and thorns” would be so thick in some areas of Judah that it would be difficult for one to even walk through.
And so, we find the Great Prophecy of “Immanuel, God with us,” hidden within the mess of a situation regarding Judah and the surrounding nations… In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the Apostle making reference to this Prophecy as foretelling Jesus Christ’s Birth.
All this took place to fulfill what the LORD had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matt 1:22-23 ESV).
Rejoice, oh world, your Savior has come! The Incarnate God—born of a virgin! Immanuel—God with us! The Son of Israel!