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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 7:10-17

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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.”

“Ask anything,” God said. “Anything at all—ask for any kind of sign you can think of, big or small, high or low.” It wasn’t an idle boast. God had given signs throughout human history that had been incredible: Abraham and Sarah became parents in their old age (Hebrews 11:11). The plagues of Egypt, which terrified even the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:7-8). The sun standing still for Joshua during the battle with the Amorites (Joshua 10:12-14). And yet something kept Ahaz from asking. It wasn’t modesty.

By refusing the Lord’s sign, Ahaz was refusing the Lord’s comfort, since that’s exactly what the sign was meant to be. Ahaz was quoting the Bible (Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”) and twisting those words to avoid God’s will in his life. This is the devil’s trick, as when he tried to haul out Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus to leap off the temple (Matthew 4:6). It’s also what the Pharisees tried to get away with by claiming “Corban” to avoid the responsibility of taking care of their parents in their old age (Mark 7:11; Numbers 30:1-2).

Ahaz didn’t want a sign from God. Was it because he didn’t want God to get credit for anything that he accomplished as king? Was it because if he started listening to God, sooner or later he would have to listen to God’s judgment on his sin? Or was it because, like so many people, he wanted to avoid God’s word so that he could avoid God’s will—and that meant he would live the way he wanted to and that he could put off facing God until later. But later would be too late…

13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 16 But 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.” (NIV)

Sometimes prophecies in the Bible have an intermediate fulfillment, a partial fulfillment of the words that remind people of the prophecy and point ahead to the way it will be kept perfectly in the end (usually in Christ). A good example is the promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:14-16. This was partially fulfilled in Solomon, David’s son, but perfectly and finally fulfilled in Jesus, David’s “greater son.” This prophecy in Isaiah 7 is an exception. This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus alone. There was no other virgin birth; no other Immanuel. The virgin was Jesus’ mother, Mary. Matthew 1:22-23 makes that clear.

King Ahaz didn’t want a sign of God’s love and protection, but God gave him a whopper. God promised a sign that nobody would ever have expected. God gave his own Son to rescue us all from our sins.

We worry about a lot, but God wants us to focus on him; on our Savior from sin, Jesus. When we keep our attention on the cross of Jesus Christ, our perspective on the rest of what happens in our lives won’t get distorted or pulled out of shape. Ephraim? Syria? They’re not going to last. Heaven? That’s forever, thanks to our Savior

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.