Loving Lord Jesus, how wonderful You are. You love me singularly, perfectly, fully – right to the very end.
Read ISAIAH 7:1–17
The Sign of Immanuel
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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful’.1
I saw an advertisement on UK television recently in which a young man, when encouraged to save for the future, says in effect ‘Why should I? That person (i.e., my future self) has done nothing to earn this money. I have and I’m going to spend it myself’! Isaiah constantly jumps in that way between the current (usually difficult) situation and the future (or possible futures) – and it can get a bit confusing for his readers. I’m sure that you, like me, sometimes find it hard to get the balance right between concentrating on the future (neglecting current responsibilities or blessings) and focusing on the present (failing to look forward to what lies before us). Isaiah is a prime example of Walter Brueggemann’s assertion that ‘the prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair’.2
It seems likely that in this instance Isaiah means his sign in verse 14 to refer to the immediate future for King Ahaz, but the angel who speaks to Joseph in a dream clearly presents it as also referring to the conception of Jesus!3 Maybe our task as we approach Christmas is to try again to bridge the gap, to be honest about the corruption in our own society, and to grieve about that and the sin in our own lives, before we jump to the fact that Jesus came into a corrupt world to bring great hope to those who turn to Him! Do, then, make that jump!
Lord, as we approach Christmas and rejoice that Jesus came as Redeemer, help us to set that in the context of the reasons why He had to come.
Thank You, Lord, that You do not forsake us during times of struggle and difficulty. I celebrate Your forgiveness and peace – precious gifts to me.
1 Luke 1:53,54 2 Walter Brueggemann, Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks, Eerdmans, 2014 3 Matt 1:22,23
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