King Ahaz had foreign policy problems. He was shaking in his boots, enemies were approaching his borders, and his throne was being threatened—so the prophet Isaiah enters. He gave two choices: trust in God or trust in ally earthly kings. He was clear, “The sovereign Lord says, ‘Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.’”
Isaiah even threw out, “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.” But Ahaz wasn’t interested in testing God. He wanted the backing of a powerful army that he could see with his eyes, so he refused to entertain Isaiah.
But Isaiah goes ahead anyway, and the powerful prophecy of the Incarnation is revealed: “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’).”
King Ahaz certainly didn’t deserve to hear this promise—and surprisingly enough, he didn’t even want to hear it. But we can guess why God gave him the sign anyways; King Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah, was listening to Isaiah’s speech as he addressed the whole royal family. Even as a teenager, Hezekiah soaked up these words like a sponge, and a few years later when he ruled the throne, Hezekiah led a great revival and brought his people back to God.
700 years later, Jesus indeed came into the world. And God’s one and only Son was born of a virgin just like written and foretold long ago. Isaiah’s prophecy and God’s promise—a sign so difficult and truly impossible—came to life and shined as clear as day for all to see.
We see from King Ahaz’s example that God’s promises will come to pass with or without us. But His fatherly heart wants nothing more than for us to join Him in His mission, make our faith firm, and believe His Word. May we rise up like Hezekiah and point those around us back to Christ. He is the only way, the truth, and the life.
- If you look back on your life—where you’ve placed your trust and how obedient you were to God’s truth—do you resonate more with King Ahaz or Hezekiah?
- May this be our prayer: “Thank you, Lord, for giving us ammunition for our faith. In particular, we can clearly see how every prophecy around Jesus’ birth was fulfilled, so we can trust what you have to say. I want to be like Hezekiah and stand firm in your instruction. Convict me of your ways and remind me of your truth, so I can be obedient to you in my life!”
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’).
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
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 has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
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