Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window)
1. Picture yourself at age 12 – 13: Where were you living? Who were your heroes?
2. What experience (if any) have you had with special diets? K-rations? Dorm food? Foraging for food? Surviving without much food?
3. The events here occur in Ahaz’s reign (some 10 – 16 years after the events of Isaiah chapter 6). What danger was threatening him now (verses 1 – 6)? Note: this is known in history books as the Syro-Ephraimite War of 735/734 B. C.)
4. What is the point of discussing the various “heads” (verses 8 and 9) in relation to the head of Judah (verse 14)? Is this a cause of alarm or comfort?
5. Ahaz was known as an evil king, so what do you make of his response here (verse 12)? Was this unbelief or humility? What was his alternate plan (2 Kings 16:7 – 9)?
6. What is the sign that the Lord will give to Ahaz anyway? How does this sign fit the crisis? Can a comforting sign also warn? Instead of peace, what will happen once Israel and Aram are out of the picture?
7. What images does Isaiah use in verses 18 – 25 to show what Assyria will do to Judah? Which one is the most graphic to you? What doe you make of the “curds and honey” imagery?
8. What situation are you facing that frightens you now? What forces are involved? How trusting of God are you in that situation? What makes it difficult for you to trust God in such fearful times?
9. When have you found that following your solution to a problem, rather than God’s, only made the problem worse?
10. Ahaz masked his lack of trust in God with false humility. What examples have you seen of people cover? up their sin with a veneer of virtue? When was the last time you covered up your sin with a veneer of virtue?
11. Since Ahaz was a bad king all along, what does it mean to you that God would still desire to give him a sign of His mercy? How does Ahaz’ refusal serve as a warning to you?
12. Matthew 1:23 shows that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of verse 14 far more than any child in Ahaz’ day could have. When facing a challenging crisis, how have you seen Jesus as “Immanuel” (“God with us”)?
(1) As you study the prophetic books of the Old Testament (such as the book of Isaiah), keep in mind “Ephraim” and “Israel” are the collective names of the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Later they are called “Samaria”. Of course, the remaining tribes constituted the Southern Kingdom (Judah).
(2) Take note of Isaiah 7:20 (“a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria“). This is a reference to the fact that Ahaz sent gifts to Tiglath-pileser (king of Assyria) to hire him to come and deliver Judah from Syria and Israel (the northern kingdom).
(3) Also take note of verses 13 and 14. The prediction of the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ is not addressed only to faithless King Ahaz, but to the whole “house of David”.