Day 6 of Advent 2020

In the days of Ahaz son of Jotham son of Uzziah, king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel went up to attack Jerusalem, but could not mount an attack against it. When the house of David heard that Aram had allied itself with Ephraim, the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. Then the Lord said to Isaiah, Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Fuller’s Field, and say to him, Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. Because Aram—with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah—has plotted evil against you, saying, Let us go up against Judah and cut off Jerusalem and conquer it for ourselves and make the son of Tabeel king in it; therefore thus says the Lord God: It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all. Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:1-14

So  many names of people and places in this paragraph, but this is what was happening–the powerful kingdom of Assyria to the north was threatening its southern neighbors.

The message from God via Isaiah was, “Don’t be afraid. They will not conquer you, if you put your trust in God.” Trust was to be manifested in standing firm in faith and not fear.

Despite Ahaz reluctance to seek a sign from God confirming that he would protect Judah, Ahaz was given a promise – a picture of peaceful and joyful normality. “A young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (which means God with us). That this normal event would happen would prove that God was active in Judah.

In his gospel, Matthew takes this verse and applies it to the birth of Jesus to Mary. That event showed even more clearly that God is with humankind, and is with us always through his spirit. So the message of this passage to us is that always, even in times of uncertain COVID dilemma, we should “stand firm in faith” because God is with us.

Let’s pray together: Father God, as we look forward to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, may we be truly thankful for this sign of your love for us and all humankind and of your presence with us always. Help us to put our trust in you and live our lives guided by your Spirit. Amen

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