Isaiah 7:1–9 (NLT): A Message for Ahaz
When Ahaz, son of Jotham and grandson of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah, the king of Israel, set out to attack Jerusalem. However, they were unable to carry out their plan.
2 The news had come to the royal court of Judah: “Syria is allied with Israel against us!” So the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Take your son Shear-jashub and go out to meet King Ahaz. You will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed. 4 Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah. 5 Yes, the kings of Syria and Israel are plotting against him, saying, 6 ‘We will attack Judah and capture it for ourselves. Then we will install the son of Tabeel as Judah’s king.’ 7 But this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“This invasion will never happen;
it will never take place;
8 for Syria is no stronger than its capital, Damascus,
and Damascus is no stronger than its king, Rezin.
As for Israel, within sixty-five years
it will be crushed and completely destroyed.
9 Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria,
and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah.
Unless your faith is firm,
I cannot make you stand firm.”
One of my former churches used to host a Narcotics Anonymous group. They used small candles as a part of their meeting and this often puzzled my church members. One night, I decided to find out exactly what they did, so I ventured out that evening and attended my first 12-step group.
Once everyone was assembled, they passed out the little tealight candles and everyone lit them with their own lighters they carried. (It was this moment that I sorta outed myself by not having my own lighter and having to borrow one from the person next to me.) Then they turned off the lights, so the only light in the room came from those tiny flames sitting quietly on the table before us.
We all live in a noisy world, and the noise is amplified tenfold in the life of someone facing physical addictions, mental instability, and emotional upheaval. Most of the people in the room had some combination of all three. I think for me, I juggle them around, trying not to hold more than one at a time. But for one moment, the noise was turned off and our attention brought to focus on these tiny lights of hope we had been given for the night. We could name the noises for what they were in this safe place. We could share openly and honestly without being judged for who we were. In this moment of quiet, we could find ground stable enough to stand and reach out to someone next to us who need help getting to their feet. It was a beautiful thing.
The Gospel of John tells us that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. That is a truth that simply is. Even if we do not believe it, it still is true. Light always casts out darkness, no matter how big or how bright. I think the season of Advent invites us to be reminded of the power of God’s presence, even when it seems small and dim. Just as Isaiah reminded King Ahaz – our hope has always been and will always be in God. When we try to take things on ourselves, tempted as we are by the noise around us, we will fall and fail every time. Our first and last call is always to trust in God.
- What is the busiest/noisiest part of your week?
- Where do you find quiet?
- What is your candle that brings your focus back to the presence of God?
And ransom captive Israel