2 Kings 16:3, the Sign of Ahaz, part II of II
[Ahaz] walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
//Yesterday, I mentioned a sign performed by Jesus in view of the Jews, at the pool of Bethesda, though no such sign was requested of him. I mentioned how Isaiah also once provided an unwanted sign to King Ahaz, who was visiting Jerusalem to inspect the pool of Bethesda. Isaiah prophesied that a young maiden nearby would have a child and name him Emmanuel. Then, I asked if you could locate an undercurrent of meaning tying these two events at the pool of Bethesda together.
As most every Bible reader knows, this prophecy of a child named Emmanuel became a sign of the birth of Jesus, hundreds of years later. But at the time, Isaiah was speaking about a maiden in his presence, one probably already pregnant, and many interpreters believe Isaiah was speaking about the queen. Ahaz’s wife. No details are provided, though, of whether she actually named her child Emmanuel. Do you suppose the prophecy came true in Ahaz’s day?
What we do know from today’s verse is this: Ahaz did have a child, and the child’s fate was to become a human sacrifice. Could Jesus, in performing an unasked-for sign at Bethesda, have been comparing the Jews to Ahaz, while casting himself in the role of Emmanuel? Jesus, the human sacrifice.
Now for the kicker: Matthew’s Gospel, as we know, draws heavily on this story of Isaiah and Ahaz and the prophecy of a child named Emmanuel. Matthew directly implies that Emmanuel is Jesus. However, it’s a bit of an odd fit; Jesus was never named Emmanuel.
Could the “sign of Ahaz”—the sacrifice of the King’s son—be the means by which Jesus became associated with the name Emmanuel, and thus the foundation which tempts Matthew to compare Isaiah’s prophecy to Jesus? If so, then Matthew’s clever theology raises my respect for him.