Isaiah said to the king of Judah and the house of David: “My Lord will give you a sign. Look! The maiden will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey he will eat, by the time he knows to reject the bad and choose the good. For before the boy knows to reject the bad and choose the good, the ground of the two kings whom you dread will be abandoned.” 1
YHWH also told Isaiah to name another son, because God would raise the king of Assyria to defeat Syria, but that Assyria would also come into Judah like a flood.
Isaiah said: “Because this people reject the waters of the Shiloah that flow gently, and they rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, therefore look! My Lord brings up upon them the waters of the river, strong and numerous, the king of Assyria and all his glory; and he comes up over all of his channels and goes over all of his banks. And he passes through Judah; he overflows and passes through until he reaches the neck; and his outstretched wings will fill the width of your land, Immanuel.” 2
Now, the name “Immanuel” means “God Is With Us,” and so we have a child who seems to symbolize God’s deliverance. And YHWH seems to suggest that deliverance, when Isaiah writes: “Smash yourselves, people, and be broken. Listen, all you from the distant parts of the earth, gird yourselves for battle, and be broken. Gird yourselves, and be broken. Take counsel together, and it will come to nothing. Speak a word, but it will not stand, for God Is With Us.” 3
However, this seems to be spoken in the voice of the people of Judah, so it may have been said sarcastically, reflecting Judah’s arrogant pride in assuming they could not be touched; especially as it is YHWH himself who brings Assyria upon them!
For immediately after saying this, YHWH warned Isaiah not to follow the way of the people of Judah, and not to fear what they feared; but rather to fear YHWH. Speaking about himself, or about Immanuel, he says: “For he will become a sanctuary; but a stone of striking and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel; a snare and a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Many among them will stumble and fall, and be broken, and be trapped, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, and seal up the law among my disciples.” 4
Now, this did not seem to happen in the days of the king of Assyria, so is likely foreshadowing what would come upon Jerusalem at a later time. And the children such as Immanuel were signs, as Isaiah says: “Look! I and the boys whom YHWH has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from YHWH of hosts, the one dwelling in Mount Zion.” 5
And then Isaiah foretells an even greater sign and wonder. “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us, and the rulership will be upon his shoulder.”
Now, a child when born has no power of its own, but is completely dependent upon its mother, and cannot do a single thing for itself. Even if this one is a ruler from birth, he cannot fully exercise his power until he has grown.
The prophet continues, “and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 6
And here we must ask, what kind of person is this? For the names of Isaiah’s sons reflected YHWH’s purpose, and so do the names of this son. The rulers of the nation may have been called “gods” even in the Torah, but which of Israel's kings were ever called anything close to “Mighty God”?
And a child cannot be called “father” until he becomes an adult and bears children, so what kind of development would be needed for his name to be called “Everlasting Father”?
Isaiah continues: “Of the increase of his rulership and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and support it with judgment and justice, from now on and forever. The zeal of YHWH of hosts will do this.” 7
Now, if his rule is to increase forever, it must of necessity start off smaller, just as a mighty tree begins as a small plant, and just as the stone that the king of Babylon saw becomes a large mountain and fills the earth.