My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Isaiah 7

Immanuel

Summary:
Ahaz was king of Judah, and Israel and Aram went to war against Judah. God sent Isaiah to tell Ahaz not to worry, because Israel and Aram's plans will not happen. They are rotting stumps.

God told Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he refused. So Isaiah said,

"You'll get a sign anyway! A virgin will have a baby, who will be God among us. By the time he grows up, Assyria will destroy Aram and Israel. A plague of flies will come; your beards will be shorn; your land will be desolate."

Key verse:
14. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

My thoughts:
Immanuel literally just means 'God with us'. 'Im' means 'with'; 'Immanu' means 'with us'; and 'El' means 'God', from 'Elohim'.

This passage is obviously re-interpretated in light of Jesus, and indeed it makes a powerful prophetic statement of Jesus. It is, also, however, a prophecy about a near future to Ahaz, where Assyria will take over Israel and Aram.

Think to yourself about some potential upcoming event that you fear. If God said,
"It will not take place,
it will not happen," (v7)
would you really trust him? We need to trust God more with our expectations and our fears.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Deane said...

Pete wrote:
"This passage is obviously re-interpretated in light of Jesus, and indeed it makes a powerful prophetic statement of Jesus."


Hmmmmmm... "A powerful prophetic statement of Jesus" that is not written about Jesus, but was reinterpreted to apply to him. I guess that makes the reinterpretation, which came after Jesus, a statement "of" Jesus even if Isaiah 7:14 is not "of" Jesus in any sense at all. But I wonder what makes you say it's a "powerful" prophetic statement of Jesus. What's the powerful prophetic aspect of this statement, in relation to Jesus, for you?

7:10 pm

 
Blogger Dave said...

How about "A virgin will have a baby, who will be God among us." ?

9:19 pm

 
Anonymous Deane said...

Spitvalve said:
How about "A virgin will have a baby, who will be God among us." ?

1. There's no "virgin" specified in the passage. The text uses the term for "young woman", a term which does not specifically refer to a virgin, but to a young woman whether virgin or not.
2. The prophecy occurs after two kings (of Aram and Israel) had marched against Judah (see 7.1). In this context, Isaiah predicts that a boy will be born to the young woman, and before he reaches the age of moral culpability, the land of these two kings will be destroyed, and that Yahweh will "bring the king of Assyria" (7.14-17). The reference is to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria, who attacked Aram and Israel, and to the attack of Aram and Israel against Judah/Jerusalem because Judah would not join them against Assyria.
3. What is significant in the story is that the child is named "Immanuel", as a sign that these things would soon take place, that is, before he reached the age of moral culpability (within 3 years). Most names in ancient Israel and Judah were theophoric, containing the name of God. The text does not say, as you do, that the child will be God among us, but that he will be named with the proper name Immanuel. The meaning of the proper name is not as significant as the fact that it signifies that when a child is born with that name, the King of Assyria will soon devastate the lands of Aram and Israel - which Judah will quite like, because at this stage Judah is not allied with Israel.
4. The verse was reinterpreted, and given a quite different meaning, in the Gospel of Matthew.
5. There are no predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament, only reinterpretations of the Old Testament in the New Testament.

9:27 am

 
Blogger Pete W said...

Well, it makes it pretty hard to have any discussion if "There are no predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament, only reinterpretations of the Old Testament in the New Testament" is your baseline!

I fully recognise that the human authors were not envisioning Jesus as we know him when they wrote, but that does not mean that these passages aren't at least partially about it!

You are going down the dangerous Biblical studies track of not accepting that maybe, just maybe, something actually supernatural could have happened, and in fact has happened.

Look, one of the earliest Christian confessions can be found in 1 Cor 15:3-4. Notice how everything is confessed in accordance with the Scriptures. Your view of the Old Testament goes against this basic conviction. If you want to do that, then that's up to you!

3:28 pm

 
Anonymous Deane said...

Pete, none of your objections apply to my view.

I will explain ...

Pete:
it makes it pretty hard to have any discussion if "There are no predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament, only reinterpretations of the Old Testament in the New Testament" is your baseline!


I agree, if that were my "baseline", it would make it hard to have a discussion about predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament. But, it isn't my baseline at all.

The absence of predictions about Jesus is a conclusion from carefully reading the passages, certainly not a premise or foundation for reading. I know that some others may not come to the same conclusion as me, but I consider this to be the better reading, for various reasons applicable to the specific texts.

Pete:
I fully recognise that the human authors were not envisioning Jesus as we know him when they wrote, but that does not mean that these passages aren't at least partially about it


And I wouldn't argue that double prediction is ruled out a priori. That is, I agree with you that there is no logical reason why a prediction couldn't refer to two separate things.

But the question doesn't hinge on what is "possible". It depends on what the better explanation of the text is... Does the better explanation of the meaning of the text allow for a double prediction, or does it not? Or is this merely a case of reinterpretation by a later person or community? That is the question.

Pete:
You are going down the dangerous Biblical studies track of not accepting that maybe, just maybe, something actually supernatural could have happened, and in fact has happened.


No I am not "not accepting ... something actually supernatural could have happened". To the contrary, I assume that the "supernatural" occurs.

In fact, even if Isaiah 7.14 is only a singular prediction, fulfilled at the time of Isaiah, rather than a second fulfillment with Jesus, that can be interpreted as "supernatural".

Pete:
Look, one of the earliest Christian confessions can be found in 1 Cor 15:3-4. Notice how everything is confessed in accordance with the Scriptures. Your view of the Old Testament goes against this basic conviction. If you want to do that, then that's up to you!


But I affirm, with Paul in 1 Cor 15.3-4, that Christ did die in accordance with the scriptures.

The scriptures were simply reinterpreted in a new way, and the new meaning was attributed to Christ's death.

What I find, from my careful reading of the texts, is that Christ did not die in accordance with a meaning of the scriptures that was held before the early Christian community. As such, there is no "prediction-fulfillment" involved in the use of the texts in the New Testament.

11:47 am

 
Blogger Pete W said...

There's a lot of little things I could argue about, but I actually entirely agree with your final sentence "Christ did not die in accordance with a meaning of the scriptures that was held before the early Christian community."

In light of Jesus, I am happy to read Isaiah 7 as referring to Jesus, although I appreciate that it may never have been viewed Messianically before Jesus. But no, this was not a prediction that 1C Jews were expecting to be fulfilled (again) in their lifetimes.

1:16 pm

 

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