Daily Update #240

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:10-14

If someone was to ask you whether God existed or not, what would you say?  As you’re reading this, I’m hoping you will be looking for a convincing argument to show that God does indeed exist (if not, see me afterwards!).  

Would you reach for nature?  The clear evidence of intelligent design in all that has been created?  The irreducible complexity of plants and animals which show the handiwork of our creator God?  

Another way of approaching this issue is to look at God’s self-revelation in the pages of scripture.  Isaiah would clearly lean towards this approach.  Later on in Isaiah (e.g. chapter 48) he notes that only the Lord God can create and shape all the he has made, only the Lord God can announce in advance what is to happen and then bring it about in power.  What Isaiah prophesied was announced well in advance and sure enough, in due course, it has come about.  

The prophecy in our passage today is arguably one of the most glorious examples.  While King Ahaz would have understood this as a prediction of the destruction of his enemies within a few years (he was facing a serious threat from Syria and the Northern kingdom of Israel), we know that Isaiah’s prophecy has a much richer and deeper meaning.  The Lord invites Ahaz to ask him for a sign, one which transcends creation (deeper that the deepest depths, i.e. beyond hell itself; or higher than heaven) and Ahaz piously refuses to ask for a sign.  While this sounds good to him, God sees right through Ahaz, as he has already sought human help by inviting Tiglath-Pileser, the king of Assyria, to attack his Syrian and Israelite enemies, rejecting God’s deliverance and his sign (see 2 Kings 16).  Isaiah then gives Ahaz his sign regardless.  

Today, we know that this prophecy of Isaiah given in around 734 BC looks forward to the virgin birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who would come to be Immanuel, God with us.  The true Lord God of heaven and earth, who stands outside of time, for whom a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day, spoke this prophecy through Isaiah.  Hundreds of years later something which is humanly-speaking impossible takes place.  A virgin does indeed conceive and give birth to the Son of God, Immanuel.  

So what are we to learn from this passage?  How can we apply it to ourselves?  I hope that this passage will give you great confidence as you share the hope that you have with others around you.  The Lord God of heaven and earth has called you to faith in him and provided scripture which reveals him and his purposes to all who will read it with an open and enquiring mind, ready to hear him speak.  His strong desire is to call sinners to repentance and faith (Mark 1:15), to reconcile people everywhere to himself.  The message God gives is clear and persuasive.  If anyone fails to respond that is down to their hardness of heart and to the blinding of their eyes by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).  So we can speak boldly and with confidence about what we read in the scriptures.  We can also pray that God himself will do the miraculous work of softening hard hearts, unstopping deaf ears and opening blind eyes.  It’s only through a supernatural work of God that we came to hear and understand.  Let’s pray that God will do similar work with our relatives, family, friends and colleagues.  We pray and watch God in action!  

Tomorrow’s passages:  Jeremiah 20:10-13    Psalm 18:1-6    John 10:31-end