The birth of Jesus, the remarkable God-with-us, is predicted hundreds of years in advance in Isaiah 7. We’ll need some background to set the stage for the prophecy.
Here’s the situation:
- there was Abraham, whom God promised a great nation
- then Isaac, whom God commanded Abraham to sacrifice but then provided a ram in his place when Abraham obeyed
- Jacob followed with his older twin Esau – Jacob was conniving and tricked Esau out of his birthright; he was also tricked himself into marrying both Leah (older sister) and Rachel (who he loved) and later wrestled with God, when God renamed him Israel
- Jacob had 12 sons with Leah and Rachel, the 12 tribes of Israel, including Judah (this line includes David and, later, Jesus).
Let’s pick up the story many years after Jacob/Israel. The Israelites have suffered slavery in Egypt and then been delivered through Moses. They have wandered 40 years in the desert and finally entered the promised land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership.
They’ve messed it up. You know, like you and I would have done.
Israel has divided into Israel and Judah, two separate kingdoms each with its own king. Israel has joined with Aram to attack Judah. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is terrified. God says through Isaiah, “keep calm and don’t be afraid.” Now here’s the scripture prophesying Jesus’ arrival.
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. 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”
Verses 12 and 13 arrested my attention. God says: ask me for anything. Ahaz effectively refuses. We’ve now arrived at the two Fs. Finally, right?
- Fear – yes, it is good to fear the Lord, not the crippling can’t get out of bed to start my day fear, but the yes-I-will-do-what-you-say love and respect kind
- Faith – but the essence of the relationship God desires with you is the I-know-that-you-will-take-care-of-me unshakeable reliance on his love, goodness, mercy, and grace.
Ahaz got the first, but missed the second. Cultivate both Fs. Tattoo them on your heart. Fear will keep you out of trouble and faith will give you peace.
Love and joy to you my friend!