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.”

So, I decide, it’s not the initial reluctance. It’s the stubborn hanging on to it…

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…

So… doom.

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.

Previous posts:

(1) – A Baby Gave Her Hope

(2) – A Baby Gave Him Comfort

(3) – A Baby Made Her Laugh

(4) – Wrestling Babies Lead to Christ? 

(5) – Hope Hanging by a Slender Thread

(6) Power in Small Things, and Fear of Babies

(7) Heart-felt Reflections on Foreshadowings so far

(8) Musings about Midwives

(9) Two Widows and a Prostitute

(10) Two Poetesses (Their Babies Made them Sing)

(11) Tangled Strands and Broken

(12) Son of Whom? 

(13) Broken Weavings, Strands, and Stumps

 (14) Stumped!

Linked to…

6 thoughts on “Seeking the Christ Child (15) – Reluctance

  1. Sylvia,
    Thank you thank you for sharing. I am so ministered by your posts and comments. God is truly downloading to you and I am so happy to have found your blog. I wish you a beautiful Christmas and encourage you today as you live an alive life to our Beloved Trinity into 2012. God bless you.

    1. Oh, thank you, K. I am much encouraged. I am just another sister struggling along, hoping that this blogging does minister to someone. God can speak through anyone — even a donkey. And I’ve heard His word come through some pretty close to that. I’m pretty close myself sometimes, I’m afraid. But what we do is make ourselves available and yielded to Him, and willing to put forth the effort… and pray! I am blessed by your blog, too. A very richly blessed Christmas to you, too.

  2. Dear Sylvia,

    Each and every word here was meant for me, a true rhema post like K said, “downloaded from the Lord.” Wow! The line that made me feel the pressure of His outstretched hand on me was this one

    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.

    I am letting wrongs at work go by the wayside because I fear the retribution of management if I turn in their “buddies.” I was forced to recognize this the other evening when after the shift a fellow nurse stopped me in the parking lot and told me how she had to report two colleagues who she caught over-medicating patients and falsifying infant feedings on charts. She said, “You nod your head like you know what I am talking about.” I did, but I didn’t have the guts to report them. I am fearing the wrong people. Thank you, Sylvia. I really needed this!

    Much love for your faithfulness to His word,

    1. Dear Dawn,
      It’s astounding how much God speaks to us that way, if we’re tuned in to hearing Him. Obviously you are. What you have to deal with is hard stuff. I thought of you as I went to publish this post, and felt perhaps it was a bit too glib. It’s easy to say these things on a blog. Tremblingly hard to live them out in the ugly real world. I am continuing to pray for you. God bless you for your faithfulness in this critical situation! And may you enjoy some time of peaceful reprieve, and an especially blessed Christmas

  3. How I pray that I don’t fear humans more than God. However, I know I do get caught up in trying to “please” and sometimes is it fine (if it is God’s will alone) and sometimes it is certainly not. To seek only Him in all. .
    I am going to look up the verses you’ve mentioned as well. My sons and I have done the Jesse Tree together this year and I love connecting the dots with them. God’s perfect plan, perfect timing, involving fragile, inadequate people to be a part of His story.
    Blessings this Christmas to you and yours. . .

    1. Yes, Danielle, it’s so easy to fall into trying to please people rather than God — maybe especially at this time of year (how ironic!)

      Danielle, most of the scriptures mentioned in these posts should pop up if you just hover your cursor over their reference. Then, if you want to read more of the passage, you can click on “more,” and that will take you to the whole text on Blue Letter Bible, where you can also read it in several different translations, and read chapters before and after.

      How good when we take the time connect the dots! How it blesses me if my blogging can in any way be a part of that for you and yours. May you (all) have an especially blessed Christmas!

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