Summary: Ever been between a rock and a hard place? Ever seen the dark circumstances around you and been afraid and frustrated, doubting whether God might intervene? Many of us have experienced the uncertainty of these days and allowed fear to invade our hearts an
Are You Ready for a Miracle?
Isaiah 7: 1-14
Two men made their way to the city’s edge one day. One was quite young, only 20 years old, but with an awesome responsibility on his shoulders. The other was more mature. He’d been around for a while and seen a few things. As they walked, he tried to encourage the young man. He had advised for a long time that Judah should stay out of entangling alliances, promising that God would intervene, God would protect the descendants of David, and that God was their hope. The year was 735 BC. The older man was the prophet Isaiah. The younger was Ahaz, King of Judah. When he came to power, the Assyrian Empire was asserting itself far to the north. Nearer at hand, the kingdoms of Syria and Northern Israel, from whom Judah had split a generation before, were feeling threatened by Assyria and forming an alliance to protect each other. These small kingdoms wanted Judah to join them. King Ahaz, like his father and grandfather, realized that any such alliance might threaten Egypt to the south and cause them to attack Judah, so they had pursued a policy of neutrality and stayed out of the fight.
But now, the Syrian and Northern Israeli armies were just outside of Jerusalem, having been turned back from their attack. And young Ahaz was not so sure about Isaiah’s preaching. What he saw looked a whole lot more real to him than Isaiah’s promises. Ahaz was afraid, frustrated, and exhausted. Our Scripture says his heart was shaken “as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind” Fear had set in and Ahaz felt like he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. His focus was not on God’s promises but the impending of doom of attack against Judah.
What about you? Ever been between a rock and a hard place? Ever seen the dark circumstances around you and been afraid and frustrated, doubting whether God might intervene? Many of us have experienced the uncertainty of these days and allowed fear to invade our hearts and mind. The people, places and things in which we have placed our security have proven to be less stable than we once thought. Unemployment is still at almost 8% in our state. The banks are still holding onto their money and not allowing new businesses to open and new projects to be built. Retirement funds are a fraction of what they once were. And yet the bills are still piling up. What do you do when you’re stuck between a rock and hard place?
The first thing that Isaiah says is “Be careful.” Ahaz is gripped with fear and he feels the uncertain foundation upon which he stands as circumstances change and danger looms on the horizon. Such circumstances can dramatically influence our thinking, our outlook and our actions. When we start to feel desperate, we think unwise thoughts and do unwise things.
Second, lean not into your own understanding. With Northern Israel and Syria threatening from the north and Egypt threatening to the south, Ahaz starts to think that the best thing would be to align with Assyria, an evil, Gentile empire, which is conquering and pillaging the Middle East. Do you see how cloudy our judgment can be when we’re stressed out and stuck in a hard place? So Isaiah says, it’s a time to stop foolish thinking. It is a time to cut off our self-reliance on our own understanding. The same is true this Christmas season. We need to be careful of the decisions we make in terms of the money we spend and the time we lend. It’s time to reclaim the true meaning of the season and prepare for the coming of the Christ child.
Third, it’s time to trust God. It’s time to stop placing our trust in things or people and trust God. Even in the midst of cloudy forecasts and uncertain economic times, don’t take your eyes off God and this Christmas don’t take your eyes off the Christchild this Christmas. Don’t let it interfere with getting ready for Christ. In this world, there are some things that seek to do you harm. That’s the world we live in. There are some people plotting your demise That’s your Syria and Northern Israel and that’s the world we live in. There are some difficult times, seasons and circumstances you are going to have to face. That’s the world we live in. But regardless of what we face, we can trust God in all times, all places and all circumstances.
Fourth, it will not last. When you’re in the midst of the storm, it can appear and feel like it’s going to last forever. But all storms have a beginning, middle and end. God says what they are planning against you and what you are facing will not last. Don’t place your hope, your joy or your security in anything other than God and the Christ child this Christmas. God says, Get ready for Christmas. Don’t give up on God now. You’ve seen hard times before. You’ve experienced people plotting your demise in the past. You’ve had obstacles in your path which seem larger than life itself. Don’t be afraid. Stand firm in your faith and it will not last.