Reluctance. I read about it this week. And now I see it all around: in Old Testament and New — and in myself. Reluctance to seek and obey what God desires.
I ponder my inner struggle, my fear of man’s opinions and what one smooth slanderous tongue can do — and I reproach myself. But then I reflect on Gethsemane, and even Christ’s reluctant struggling before He acquiesced, “Not my will, but Thine.”
Ahaz was reluctant, and hung on…
Ask for a sign, Isaiah says. God says.
“No. I won’t do that.” Reluctance
“I won’t try God that way.” Pretense
He’s been trying God mightily, with black and massive sin, horrible idolatry, even burning his own babies in sacrificial fires, following foreign gods, gathering pagan allies (he thinks, fooling himself).
Warned repeatedly against his rebellion, he repeats it still.
Yet now he has scruples about trying the LORD?
Isaiah quickly shoots this great false piety from its lofty sky: Isn’t it enough that you try human patience (mine)? Will you thus also try God’s? God commands, “Ask a sign.” You refuse. Fine! He’ll give you one of His own choosing!
Ahaz wants no sign from God, because signs give counsel, and he’s already chosen his own, or that of mediums. For help, he seeks not God, but the very king God warns him against. A strong king, whose idols seem to bring success, so Ahaz adopts them, too.
God has just declared judgment against two lesser kings Ahaz fears: If Ahaz will only rely on God, He will prevent the terror they plan (to bully Ahaz into alliance with them). But reluctant Ahaz trusts in the visible and human instead.
He stiffens in fear, but not the right kind: Not reverent, repentant, grateful fear of God that knows what doom he deserves, but also knows God’s never-failing mercy to the contrite heart that sees the Creator as stronger than anything created.
So Isaiah announces God’s sign:
“Behold, the virgin [or young maiden] will conceive and bear a son, and they will call his name God-with-us.”
Then Isaiah’s wife conceives and bears a son whose growth stages will mark disaster times Isaiah also predicts. But this foreshadows another birth, another Son, Whose mother’s virginity makes a true wonder-sign.
This light into the future flashes swift and bright, then fades amid prophecies of imminent doom: Ahaz rejects God’s counsel, mercy, and strength. So, the great human power now threatening to obliterate Ephraim and Syria will also sweep Judah, despite Ahaz’s alliance with him.
Isaiah pronounces judgment on people stubbornly reluctant to fear God because they fear humans more. “The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; let Him be… your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel…“ They need to seek His counsel, not wizards’ — need to seek Him! But they don’t, won’t…
But there amid forecasts of horror and loss another brief flare flashes, blinding yet revealing: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light: Those… in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined..”
“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given:
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.”
Clearly this prophecy reaches beyond Ahaz and Isaiah’s time, to when the Son born will embody God Himself, Father of eternity and life eternal. A coming Prince of Peace.
Declared fulfilled in Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:26-35, John 3:16, Titus 2:13, Ephesians 2:14…
And celebrated so beautifully in this segment of The Messiah.
To read: Isaiah 7:1- 9:7; 2 Chronicles 28
Seeking the Christ Child (in the Old Testament)
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I am searching for prophecies and foreshadowings of the Christ child, book by book. I plan to post (nearly) every weekday (leaving myself some margin) a short peek at some hint or promise of the coming baby who would make all the difference. Like the wise men, I’ll be Seeking the Christ Child, but in Old Testament promises and foreshadowings, and sharing what I find. I hope you’ll join me, because if it turns out as rewarding as the past spring’s pre-Easter explorations, this focus could make this one of the richest, most blessed Christmas seasons yet.