10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign from the Lord your God. Make it as deep as the grave or as high as heaven.”
12 But Ahaz said, “I won’t ask; I won’t test the Lord.”
13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Isn’t it enough for you to be tiresome for people that you are also tiresome before my God? 14 Therefore, the Lord will give you a sign. The young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel. 15 He will eat butter and honey, and learn to reject evil and choose good. 16 Before the boy learns to reject evil and choose good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned.
The situation looked grim, enemies surrounded Judah. King Ahaz of Judah is surrounded by forces seeking to invade and destroy them. God sent the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz to tell him to remain faithful, to have patience and put his faith in God, and God would deliver Ahaz and his nation. But Ahaz did what most of us do when we’re in crisis mode, he panicked and he relied on his own understanding of the situation. He didn’t trust God. Ahaz doubted God so Isaiah told him to ask God for a sign, because doubting people need a sign so they can believe.
Ahaz refuses, because if God gives him a sign, then Ahaz will have to do what God has asked him to do. Isaiah tells the King that the sign will be “a young woman is pregnant and is about to give birth to a son, and she will name him Immanuel,” which means, ‘God with us.’ Ahaz ignores God and the Assyrians destroy Judah, but the people were not alone, God was faithful and was with them throughout their suffering.
Centuries later the writer of Matthew, during the Roman occupation of Judaea, remembers this sign, and sees its fulfillment in Jesus’ birth. Throughout all the centuries this sign is our reminder that God is with us, no matter what is happening in our world and in our lives. God is now incarnate in our world and in our lives, God is with us in our despair and frustration, in war and poverty, in our physical and mental suffering. God is in our midst loving us, living among us, redeeming us. God’s Kin-dom has come, sin is destroyed and death is vanquished through the salvation and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God’s love for all God’s creation is born anew in us. Immanuel, God is with us, no matter what!
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
The Christmas season is a time of joy and celebration, but is also a time of struggle for people around the world who experience war, poverty, illness and hopelessness. During crises we all look for signs so we can believe, and rely on our own understanding. Doubt and fear often cloud our ability to listen to and trust God. Know that God loves you, God is faithful and God is with you no matter what you are going through, you can rely on God.
Are you looking for a sign? Look to the Christ child in the manger, Immanuel, God with us, love that never fails us.
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, you are faithful and you are always with us, no matter what is going on in our lives, we know we can rely on you to see us through each day. Our trust is in you God. Amen.