“Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!” Isaiah 7:11 & 12
What outrageous contempt! Ahaz, King of Israel, under the threat of invasion, rejects Gods outstretched hand like a petulant child preferring to subject himself to the King of Assyria in exchange for aid against the aggressor. As far as choices go this seems singularly stubborn, obviously contrary, without equal in it’s attempt to cause maximum offence. The Lord here offers not only a promise of safety for his land with the eventual overthrow of the army, but is also prepared to back it up instantly with a demonstration of power of whatever miracle Ahaz can invent. Not many get such a blank canvas. Our minds can probably race full of ideas of what we would ask of God given such an opportunity. And yet Ahaz says “I will not ask” and he throws in some scripture for good measure as if that excuses his behaviour. A scripture, incidentally, we all know and can quote from another message concerning the misuse of scripture.
God does not endure this contempt. He does not hold back and Ahaz gets what’s coming to him.
Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
“He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.” Isiah 7:13-15
There cannot possibly be a Christian who reads that and doesn’t think along the lines of “That’s my Saviour, that’s my Lord, that’s the one who broke my chains, set me free, blessed me with every blessing, walks alongside me, my joy, my comfort, my strength, my Jesus” It shouts through heaven and history. Gods sign of his love for us, the proof of his willingness to keep us secure is that he came amongst us as Immanuel, God with us. As a man, eating real food, living a real life, knowing the choices that need to be made. Understanding humanity from the inside.
To ourselves then what can we apply? We must look at ourselves honestly. It is with gladness I can say I am not like Ahaz, for he was one of the worst, and yet I do not have to go far before I find a place where I have put my assurance in something worldly over that which God offers, Where is my security? Where is my sense of belonging? Where do I go for comfort? Where do I feel best regarded? Where do I got to fulfil my wants? Is it always to God?
Ahaz, in full possession of the facts, made his choice in 2 Kings 16:17 “So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me.”
We as Christian, however, have our sign. Greater that anything Ahaz could have thought of given his opportunity. It is our assurance that we can safely put down those things we go to, thinking they will help, and find the reality of security with God.