Tuesday 26 November 2013

Hosea 11:1 and Isaiah 7:14: Taken out of Context?

Within this article I wish to deal with two texts which are often raised against Christians by Rabbinic Jews, and occasionally Muslims and other groups to try and say that Christians are guilty of misusing the context of those passages. They are Isaiah 7:14 and Hosea 11:1. Let's look at them.

Isaiah 7:14
"7 When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it.

2 Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with[a] Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.

3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub,[b] to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. 4 Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘It will not take place,
    it will not happen,
8 for the head of Aram is Damascus,
    and the head of Damascus is only Rezin.
Within sixty-five years
    Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people.
9 The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
    and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son.
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
    you will not stand at all.’”
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f] 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”

18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also. 21 In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels,[g] there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.".

In the context, The child born would be a sign to King Ahaz that the Assyrians and the people of Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom, will not prevail over them, because God would be with them. The child was to indicate that God was on the side of the people of Judah and is set against the Assyrians and the Northern Kingdom and bringing destruction on them if they do not repent. The child himself gave Ahaz hope that Judah would survive and will not be trampled.

Matthew applies Isaiah 7:14 to Jesus as a double prophecy, because his birth would be a sign to the people that the Messiah had come and will deliver Israel from their enemies and that they will not be prevailed against. It was also a sign that God was with them and NOT with their enemies. When Jesus returns, he will come back and deal with those who do wrong against his people be they Jew or Gentile, Just as the Assyrians were dealt with in the TANAKH itself.

So just as the child born was light and hope to the people and Ahaz, so Jesus was light and hope to his people.

Hosea 11:1

Now we turn to the other passage in Hosea 11, Let's read.
"11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them.
5 “Will they not return to Egypt
    and will not Assyria rule over them
    because they refuse to repent?
6 A sword will flash in their cities;
    it will devour their false prophets
    and put an end to their plans.
7 My people are determined to turn from me.
    Even though they call me God Most High,
    I will by no means exalt them."

In this passage, God speaks of the time he first called Israel out of the land for servitude to him and to be his son. Despite this, the people of Israel rebelled and turned to Baal, Asherah and whatever detestable deity they had decided to worship. Some even tried including Ha Shem in this pantheon, which of course he would not accept and rightly so he didn't.

The point is they were called to be his servant and proclaim his name among the Gentiles and bring the world to himself through them. In the same way, Jesus was called out of Egypt by his Father in heaven, to do his mission of redemption of bringing the Jews and the Gentiles into reconciliation by the vicarious death on the cross. This was the mission of Christ in the will of the Triune God from eternity. After being sent to Earth, Jesus was called for service by his Father to carry a mission and a function and to serve him.

Just as Israel was called to serve God, the Son himself was called for a mission.

That is what is being put across in these passages by Matthew in his Gospel.

Check my words with scripture and study the Word, Hope this article has been a blessing.

Answering Judaism.

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