It’s the Advent season. It’s a time of waiting for something important. Yeah, we’re terrible at waiting. How are you at waiting? Do you read the last chapter of a book to determine whether you want to read it or not? Do you look up a movie beforehand to see what it’s about before you go watch it? Have you ever snuck under the Christmas tree to open a present to see what it is and then rewrap it? I guess some of us are worse at waiting than others.
“The waiting is the hardest part.”-Tom Petty
Our scripture for today’s sermon takes us to the book of Isaiah 7. At this time, Ahaz was the king of Judah. He was a wicked king who worshiped other god and even sacrificed his own son to Molech. Ahaz was said to be cowardly, superstitious and hypocritical, one of the worst kings Judah ever had.
King Rezin of Aram and the son of Remaliah king of Israel marched to fight against Jerusalem, but they couldn’t overpower it. King Ahaz and his people were shaken at learning this. But the Lord sent a message to Ahaz with Isaiah,
“Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood-because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves and make the son of Tabeel king over it.”Isaiah 7:3-6
This news caused Ahaz to fear what lie ahead, but God actually gave him an out.
“Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”Isaiah 7: 11
But Ahaz refused to ask God for a sign.
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”Isaiah 7: 12
That sounds like Ahaz is being kind of honorable because he doesn’t want to test God, doesn’t it? But, that wasn’t it. If God gave him a sign, he would have to believe. He couldn’t do what he wanted to do. So instead of trusting God, Ahaz and his people choose fear.
I think most of us have done this at one time or another. But when we respond to politics or pandemics with anything but trust in a faithful God, we will be perpetually waiting for His peace in the midst of the crisis. It’s easy to be tempted into fear when people question our faith, but we know how the story ends, right? The victory belongs to Jesus, so we must trust in the God who is faithful.
Even in the midst of chaos, rioting, sickness, and political upheaval, we have to remember that our God is greater. And we have to trust him to calm the storm in his time. We must be patient in the waiting.
Why was it so hard for Ahaz to trust in God? Because he didn’t see the situation the same way God did. God has knowledge of the situation that we don’t have. He’s never surprised by events. He knows what’s going to happen. Sometimes we don’t ask for a sign, because it would change the game. But, God gave Ahaz a sign anyway.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.Isaiah 7: 14
In this sign, we see that God has things under control. He is already working for the redemption of his people. He’s still God. He’s still here. He’s always faithful.
We were challenged this morning to be honest with ourselves and to take stock in where we put our trust. Is what we have really faith or is it just lip service?
Ask God for your sign. This is not easy when you want the answer to be one way and you’re not sure what God will want for you. That’s when you really have to trust in Him because he knows what’s best.
Advent is more about a faithful God than it is about the waiting people. We are terrible at waiting, but God is always faithful.
If you weren’t able to attend church this past Sunday, here is a link to Jon’s sermon. https://youtu.be/7v_idFixIcE