“Then the Lord spoke again to Ahaz: “Ask for a sign from the Lord your God—from the depths of Sheol to the heights of heaven.” But Ahaz replied, “I will not ask. I will not test the Lord.” Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel. By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey. For before the boy knows to reject what is bad and choose what is good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned. The Lord will bring on you, your people, and the house of your father, such a time as has never been since Ephraim separated from Judah —the king of Assyria is coming.”” (Isaiah 7:10–17, HCSB)
Many people are familiar with Isaiah’s famous prophecy regarding the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. You know it, we read it every Christmas during the holiday season. “The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” A lot of people don’t know the story behind the passage. King Ahaz was not a good man, according to God. He offered his children as human sacrifices to pagan deities. He was a very immoral person and therefore he influenced more people to turn away from the One True God of Israel.
Ahaz found himself in the middle of an international conflict that created a national crisis. He was king of the southern kingdom of Judah during the period of the Divided Kingdom. Israel’s King Pekah and Syria’s King Rezin had formed an alliance to combat the world super power of their day, Assyria. The Aramean and Israelite kings needed Judah’s help to keep the Assyrians at bay. These two kings threatened Ahaz and said that if he didn’t help them, they would remove him and put someone else in his place. In other words, they threatened him with a regime change. We’ve seen this in our lifetime. Remember Sadam Hussein? So, Ahaz had a problem. If he didn’t go along with his neighbors, they would create problems, and if he did become part of the alliance, the Assyrians would certainly take notice. The Assyrians were no one to mess with either.
At this time Isaiah, God’s prophet showed up with a word from the Lord. “Ask the Lord for a sign was the instruction.” Ahaz’s response was basically, I don’t have time for this, I’m not going to ask.” Isaiah was married to a young maiden (also called a virgin). He said that the virgin would give birth to a child and before the child would grow to know right from wrong, these two kings would be nothing more than smoldering stumps. That in fact happened. In just a few years both of the kingdoms of Israel and Syria were destroyed. This passage had a two-fold fulfillment. First, it was fulfilled partially in Isaiah’s day. Second, it was ultimately fulfilled when Jesus was born. We know this because the New Testament writers interpreted it that way. Jesus is Immanuel (God with us).
Now that you know the backstory, let’s examine the implications. First, we know what a national crisis is. We’ve seen them before, but most recently through the Covid Pandemic of 2020, the political division of our country, the racial strife, etc. God is saying the same thing to us, “Trust me.” None of the things we have experienced that has caused such turbulence in our nation has caught God by surprise. Not one.
People are becoming more and more skeptical of our governmental leadership and our long-standing institutions. There is good reason for such skepticism because of the lack of integrity. So, why do we place so much trust in people and institutions that have proven to be untrustworthy? God said, “Trust me.” There was another part of the backstory that needs to be told in Isaiah’s story. Ahaz suffered the consequence, as did his people. Isiah told Ahaz, “The Lord will bring on you, your people, and the house of your father, such a time as has never been since Ephraim separated from Judah —the king of Assyria is coming.” Because Ahaz didn’t trust God, he forfeited a blessing and protection from God.
Don’t be an Ahaz. Don’t panic. Don’t quit. Don’t concede. Instead, trust in the Lord.