“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” 10Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: 11“Ask the Lord your 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.” 12But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.” 13Then 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? 14All 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 7:9-14
In this passage from the writings of Isaiah, King Ahaz of Judah faced dire circumstances. The kings of Syria and Israel plotted to attack him and even though the attempt was thwarted, King Ahaz looked on these rulers with trembling. It seemed he forgot that God was with him.
Isaiah reminds the king that God was with him and invited him to ask for a sign — anything he wanted. What would you do? King Ahaz, afraid to place his trust in the God he can’t see, claimed the high road — I don’t want to test the Lord — and refused to ask for a sign of God’s presence.
Isaiah, unimpressed with Ahaz, rebuked the entire assembly and provided a sign for the people — a baby would be born and his name would be Immanuel which means ‘God with us!’ Personally, I believe this sign had a fulfillment in the days of Isaiah and Ahaz. But it’s ultimate fulfillment came about 700 years later in a little town called Bethlehem.
I relate to Ahaz. Some days God’s presence is hard to feel. I can’t see him and if I can’t feel him, how do I know he is here? Then I am tempted to put my trust in what I can see, to find someone or something that is tangible. It is in those moments, the Holy Spirit invites me to ask for a sign — a sign of God’s presence. Will I step out in faith and ask? Will I refuse, hiding behind a sense of false piety as a cover to find my own way?
Is God inviting you to ask for a sign of his presence? Are you bold enough and yet humble enough to do it? Do you trust his love for you?