Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.” On that day the Lord will whistle for the fly that is at the sources of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. And they will all come and settle in the steep ravines, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on all the thornbushes, and on all the pastures. On that day the Lord will shave with a razor hired beyond the River—with the king of Assyria—the head and the hair of the feet, and it will take off the beard as well. On that day one will keep alive a young cow and two sheep, and will eat curds because of the abundance of milk that they give; for everyone that is left in the land shall eat curds and honey. On that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns. With bow and arrows one will go there, for all the land will be briers and thorns; and as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread. Isaiah 7:10-25 (NRSV)
Babies grow up so fast. Don’t miss the moments you have with them. You blink and they are ready for their first haircut. You drop out for just a moment and they grow a foot in height and 3 feet worth of attitude. Babies become children in no time at all. That is the point of this prophecy.
King Ahaz was freaking out because the countries around him were gearing up to attack, and had already attacked some of the neighboring communities. He wanted a military solution to something he saw as a military problem.
God however was looking for a little bit of faith. In the same way that Jesus relieved Thomas’s doubts by showing him the wound marks on his body, so God told King Ahaz to simply ask for a sign and God would do it. But unlike Thomas, Ahaz refused to ask, refused to seek, and refused to look for God at all. So God told him what the sign would be: a son shall be born and before he is old enough to know right and wrong, those nations you fear so much today will not even exist.
God was raising up a “razor”, in the form of the King of Assyria who would conquer all the land. God planned to use this foreign king as a cleansing tool on Israel and her neighbors – for razors were not used as much for looking good, but as doctor’s tools, to cut hair from those who had skin diseases and needed a fresh start. Hair and beards were signs of maturity and authority, and God was letting them know they all needed to be as ones who were born again, to the hairless status of infants. The very land itself would go back to the way it was before people farmed it, inhabited only by wild livestock.
Advent reminds us that Christ is coming again, and that when He does, none of our own strength or possessions will save us. Our only hope is Jesus. He changed the lives of all in the Christmas story, and He will change our life as well.
He only asks us to trust him because sometimes the thing that looks like a loss to us is actually the cure that God has created to save us. God put Israel back on track as a nation that witnessed His glory to the world by sending the nations to conquer them. He saved us from sin by sending His Son to die for us. He saves us from death, by inviting us to pick up our crosses daily and follow him.
- What have you lost this year?
- What do you hope to find?
- What is God showing you as a sign of His faithfulness to you?
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm