December 14, 2010

Dec. 14: Denying the signs

author_portrait

By Jenny Speight, a senior English major from Cleveland, Ohio
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:10-16 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:

We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t put God to the test, and yet, in this passage, God invites Ahaz to do just that. He tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, be it in the Heavens or on the Earth, but Ahaz declines. My first thought was, “Wow, what great faith!” But I wonder if maybe Ahaz was simply afraid that God would prove himself.

King Ahaz was not what we might call a good man. He did not know God, let alone trust him. To receive a sign indicating that God would indeed carry them through required faith, and Ahaz had none. But God gave him a sign anyway.

Declining a sign from the God who has graciously offered to prove himself was not a gesture of faith, it was fear. God wanted to show himself to the people. So Ahaz, rather than being used by God, has God’s purposes accomplished in spite of him. The birth of Christ was announced though Ahaz declined God’s offer to show a sign. How often do we do this, ignoring or declining an offer from God?

This passage demonstrates God’s ability to accomplish what he wants in spite of us, but it doesn’t give us license to ignore him. The sign God provides is Emmanuel – God with us. When Ahaz denied the sign, he denied Emmanuel. But God gave it to us anyway.

Though we deny the sign – the very proof God so longs to give us – he continues his work anyway.

SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:10-16 (NRSV)

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

»

«

Comments (5)

  1. Thank you, Jenny, for your thoughts. They bring an interpretation, that is very important for me at present.

    Alvaro Riveros-Polanco December 14, 2010 |
  2. Also from Ohio, we thank you for your sharing with us today.
    Wishing you and your family a meaningful Christmas.
    frank and cara

    Frank and Cara Ulrich December 14, 2010 |
  3. Thank you for giving me this new insight into the Isaiah scripture by adding its context and then challenging us today.

    Susan Miller Balzer December 14, 2010 |
  4. Jennifer, I’m so thankful God has spoken through his word to us… through the Bible and through you!!!

    Nan Kanagy December 16, 2010 |
  5. This was beautiful insight on a more difficult Advent text & context, & just what I needed today. Thank you!

    Janet December 18, 2010 |