Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.
Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the LORD you God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want–as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
But the King refused, “No,” he said, “I will not test the LORD like that.”
Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
— Isaiah 7:10-14 (NLT)
The beginning of our text for today reminds me of another story in the Scriptures. Remember Gideon? Unlike King Ahaz, he wasn’t at all worried about putting God to the test. In Judges 6, we get the story. God tells Gideon that he needs to lead the army against the Philistines. Gideon isn’t so sure. After all, he’s small and weak–“My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:15, NLT). So, Gideon puts out a fleece. He puts God to the test.
I once heard Jon Peterson (from 24/7 Prayer) say, “God likes the fleecy thing.”
Yet, Ahaz, decides that even though the prophet has told him to put out a fleece, he isn’t going to do that. Judah is in a tight spot. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, and Syria have joined forces against them. Our text places us in the midst of this story. If we back up a few verses, we find God telling the Prophet Isaiah to tell Ahaz to stop worrying (vs. 4). “Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting…”, but, “…this invasion will never happen” (vs. 5, 7).
And Ahaz is in that spot where we often find ourselves. Somewhere between the promise and the fulfillment. All Ahaz can see is the situation surrounding him. War is inevitable. He can see the armies at his door.
Yet, he has a word from God–“this invasion will never happen.”
Firmly planted between the promise of God and the reality of the moment.
Firmly planted between the now and the not yet.
Firmly planted between the promise of Messiah and the reality of the cross.
So, Isaiah, offers Ahaz a way to see his faith. “Ask the LORD for a sign.” Ahaz declines. So, Isaiah says, “God Himself will give you a sign.”
Proof of the promise.
The fleecy thing.
What happens when you’re in that spot? You can see the armies coming against you. It looks dreary. Yet, you know God has promised that the invasion will never happen. It’s easy in that moment of being stuck in between to get discouraged. It’s easy to think that God has all but forgotten His promise.
I believe today’s text is telling us that it’s ok to ask for God to reaffirm that promise. I believe it’s ok to say, “God, I trust you, I believe you, yet right now I could use a bit of reassuring.”
After all, God set the rainbow in the sky to remind Himself of the promise (Genesis 9:12-16).
So, don’t be afraid of “the fleecy thing.”