Sunday, December 18, 2011

Exhausting the Lord’s Patience or Being the Lord’s Servant?

Sunday, December 18 – Isaiah 7:10-14

Isaiah 7:10-14 (New Living Translation)
 10 Later, 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.”
 12 But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
 13 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? 14 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’).

Ahaz seems to have had his own idea of how his religion should work. The Lord specifically told him through Isaiah to ask for a sign but he refused. It did not fit in with his idea of how he should behave with God. God did not have a lot of patience with this refusal of Ahaz’s to relate to Him in the way He laid out for Ahaz.

Since Ahaz refused to ask for a sign, the Lord himself decided what the sign would be. A lot has been said about this scripture, but just looking at the words themselves in this translation, we can see:

§  The prophecy has to do with the royal line of David. We know from previous scriptures we have studied that the Messiah, the one who would sit on David's throne forever, would ultimately come from this house.
§  Ahaz wouldn’t think of something difficult, so God spoke of a sign so outlandish Ahaz probably would not have thought of it if he tried. A virgin would conceive a child and give birth. Pretty crazy, pretty impossible. But as Gabriel said to Mary (Luke 2), nothing is impossible with God.
§  The son would be called “Immanuel,” which means God is with us. My favorite thought! (I quote it often: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14, NIV)

I know I’m jumping ahead and we’ll get to this again later, but I must contrast Ahaz’s response to Mary’s. Ahaz refused to do what the Lord commanded, but Mary said “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” Here is the passage:

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
 29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
 34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
 38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

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