“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” – Isaiah 55:7
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” – Revelation 3:20
I’ll admit it – sometimes my husband has to rein me in. I want to give our boys everything, and I struggle not to spoil them. And it’s even worse at Christmas. God forgive me, a part of me wants to be the hero of their Christmas. In my flesh, I want to shower them with stuff and be the source of everything good in their lives, but in reality, I’m not the source of anything. Anything I can give them is just me playing delivery girl to the goodness of God. He’s the Source. He’s the Benefactor. He’s the Hero and the Wonder of Christmas.
In Isaiah 7, Ahaz refuses to acknowledge God as the source of anything. It’s amazing that the story of this rebellious king culminates in one of the most striking Messianic prophecies, “…a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Verse 14).
But I’m getting ahead of myself. A descendant of David who was also in the line of Christ (Matthew 1:9), Ahaz was king of Judah during the period when the twelve tribes were broken into two distinct and warring kingdoms – the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Ahaz came to power at the age of twenty, when the civil war between the two kingdoms was brutal. But for Judah, the carnage was made worse by the rebellion of their young king. The accounts of Ahaz in both II Kings 16 and II Chronicles 28 tell us that God brought Judah low because of Ahaz’s disobedience. He worshiped pagan gods, sacrificed his own son to the idol Molech, and polluted the worship at the temple in countless evil ways.
And yet in Isaiah 7, God is begging for Ahaz’s attention. As the forces of Israel loom for another attack with Syria as their ally (they had already killed 120,000 and captured 200,000 in Judah – II Chronicles 28:6-8), God is pleading with Ahaz to repent and acknowledge Him. He sends the prophet Isaiah with a message. God will not allow Israel and Syria to conquer Judah, if the young king will just turn his heart to the Lord in faith (Isaiah 7:3-10). He even tells Ahaz to test Him, to ask for a sign if he cannot believe in God’s mercies (Verses 10-12).
Ahaz’s heart is so hard that he can’t even bring himself to ask God for a sign. And the gracious God of the universe responds with the most meaningful sign of all – a prophecy of the virgin-born Messiah (Verse 14).
Do you see the longsuffering, pleading love of God here? He pleads with Ahaz, much as He pleads with every sinner in need of saving (Isaiah 1:18, Micah 7:18, Matthew 23:37, Ephesians 2:4-5, Revelation 3:20) and yet, Ahaz clings to the idea that he can save himself. In a stunning turn of events, he takes the gold and silver from the temple and sends it to the King of Assyria to buy an alliance. He desecrates the temple with a pagan altar, and instead of accepting the salvation of the Lord, he sells his soul and sells out his kingdom.
My friend, God has given you a sign. Open His Word, and you will find it full of promises of His love and His deliberate involvement in your life. Look at all you have, from the roof over your head to the shoes on your feet, and you will know that He is the Source of it all. God is at work in your life, and He wants you to acknowledge Him, trust Him, and go to Him (He has already come to you – Matthew 1:23).
This Christmas, read the sign. See that God is pleading to be first in your heart. Let Him save you (Psalm 46:1, Ephesians 2:8-9). Let Him love on you (Romans 5:8, I John 3:1). And in the midst of your Merry Christmas, give your attention to the God who is with you.
Have you lost sight of God this Christmas? Are you so wrapped up in what you can buy, make, and plan, that you’ve forgotten where every good thing in your life comes from? If so, ask God to forgive you and give your attention to the God who came to be with you.