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Devotional: December 17, 2020

God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!”

But Ahaz said, “I’d never do that. I’d never make demands like that on God!”

So Isaiah told him, “Then listen to this, government of David! It’s bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you’re making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us).

Isaiah 7: 10-14 The Message

You may recognize the prophecy in this passage. It speaks of a virgin conceiving, and bearing a son, who will be named Emmanuel (God With Us). As Christians, we believe that this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled through the birth of Jesus to Mary.

Yet some scholars believe that while the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy happened in the New Testament, the prophecy itself spoke to a specific situation with Ahaz.

Even in its original context, there is good news in this story. King Ahaz was the King of Israel. He was a terrible king. He ignored the worship of God. He may have even sacrificed one or more of his sons to a false god. He made terrible political decisions, often based on his cowardice. He had a comparatively short reign. He was regarded as such a terrible king that the people of Israel didn’t even want to put his body in the same place where other former kings were buried. He was that bad! In short, he was a failure in almost every way.

Even in this particular passage, Ahaz is sparring and disagreeing with the prophet Isaiah. He couldn’t be a less deserving recipient of a sign from God.

Yet Isaiah tells him that God is giving him a sign anyway. A virgin will conceive and bear a son, and will give him a very specific, unusual name: “God with us.”

What remarkable news this could have been for Ahaz, had he opened his heart to it! Ahaz, one who was fleeing from God in every possible way, receives news of a sign that a baby will be miraculously born. This child will remind him, and his entire Kingdom, that God is still with him, and the whole kingdom.

The original setting of this story reminds us that God blesses us all at Christmas. The Lord blesses us not because we deserve a blessing, but because we need one. God the Father sent His son Jesus to us to express His love for us: His sinful, wayward, people. Rejoice in that good news, as we approach Christmas…

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, that even when I am not at my best, You still see the best in me. Help me to open my eyes and ears, and see the message of Christ. Keep me from the doubting Your amazing, unconditional love. Help me to overcome the ways of the world which often drag me down. Help me turn to You. May I stay focused, and grow in Your ways of grace and love, which I learn continually though Your word.

I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen


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