Reading: Isaiah 7: 10-16
King Ahaz has not lived according to God’s ways. He knows this fact. Isaiah prompts him to ask for a sign but Ahaz knows better. The prophet of God has come to deliver judgment and wants Ahaz to play a role. Instead, Ahaz utters a well-known but equally untrue line in this case: “I will not put the Lord to the test”. Ahaz’s reign has been one evil thing after another that has surely tested God. King Ahaz is trying to delay the inevitable.
But when Isaiah speaks of the coming judgment, it is couched in hope and promise. True, two kings who are Ahaz’s enemies are about to lay siege to Jerusalem. True, Ahaz will get what he deserves. But, but, but! The virgin will be with child, she will give birth, and he will be called Emmanuel, which means “God with us”. Yes Ahaz, your reign is ending. But one far more important is coming. One is coming from God who knows right from wrong. One is coming who will forever save his people.
In the midst of danger and judgment comes a word of hope. It is an unlikely source of help: a child. God does not always act or respond as we expect. God does not always bring the answer we think we want. But God is always present. In Christ, God became present to humanity. Emmanuel, God with us, came and dwelt amongst us. When the time came for Jesus to go to the cross, He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit, the continuation of ‘God with us’.
This day and every day, whether in the high or the low or any place in between, may we cling to our Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus Christ is the hope and light of the world. May He be yours today and every day.