“Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” Isaiah 7:11 ESV
As we enter 2016 the Lord is increasing our faith as well as teaching us how to develop a “faith that preserves our souls” Hebrews 10:39.
I begin this year with this blog in hopes it may inspire some as they happen along our path; you’re formally invited to join us as we continue to chase and rest in Jesus.
King Ahaz, the king of Judah had recently refused to join two other northern countries against an invading army from Assyria. Judah was bordered by Israel; a northern group of smaller Hebrew tribes under the leadership of prince Pekah. The other was the country of Aram further north of Israel, under the leadership of King Rezin. Ahaz rejected to join them as they sought to resist the encroaching army of King Tiglath-pilesar of Assyria, whose reputation in warfare through savagery and psychological horrors was unparalleled.
Ahaz soon learned of Israel’s and Aram’s deceptive plan to overthrow him and place a puppet king on his throne to gain access to the city of Jerusalem and all of its resources. The Bible records that King Ahaz and all of Judah became understandably frightened. King Ahaz began to make fortifications to the city’s defenses. One day as he was inspecting the water-ways which led into the city he was approached by an old prophet, sent by God named Isaiah. Isaiah told Ahaz that God wanted him to be calm, be quiet, do not fear and do not become fainthearted. God even assured the king that what he saw before him was no real threat and that He would protect him from any danger he might think it presented.
But God knew Ahaz needed something more. So God offered Him a sign. A sign may be defined as facts that are present as promises for something coming in the distant future. The sign God offered Ahaz was unlike any ever offered before. The Lord God told Ahaz that since he didn’t have the capacity to trust God, He was willing to allow him to “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be as deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” Literally God was giving Ahaz the opportunity to ask the darkest or wildest thing imaginable to help prove that God was indeed able to protect him and the people of Judah from the impending invasion.
Ahaz openly rejected the Lord’s offer by implying that he was too pious and confident in his relationship with God to ever put Him to the test. He was attempting to show how much he already trusted God. But even in his attempt to appear pious, he discloses his true agenda. Ahaz does not refer to the Lord as his God. Even though the prophet Isaiah provides him with that gracious assignment when he invites Ahaz to “Ask a sign of the Lord your God”. If the Lord had indeed been Ahaz’s God, then his response would have sounded like, “I will not put the Lord my God to the test.”
The broader revelation to why Ahaz would reject such a robust and unbelievable offer from God may be seen in other details as well, but first allow me to share why Ahaz rejected the offer of King Rezin and Prince Pekah to fight against the Syrian king, Tiglath-pilesar.
Ahaz had been sending tribute to Assyria for many years as a royal subject to Tiglath-pilesar. This gave him hope that once Assyria did in fact invade Aram, Israel and Judah that he would be spared because he had a relationship based on reciprocity. He gave a scheduled monetary tribute to Tiglath-pilesar and he in turn provided Ahaz with certain privileges and honors. Also, Ahaz had allowed the pagan religious beliefs of Assyria to remain a part of Jewish culture even though God had forbade it.
But why would Ahaz refuse God’s offer. I suggest it is because like every other human, leader or king, he went with what he thought he could manage. Ahaz rejected God’s offer not so much because he didn’t believe God could protect him, it was more like he couldn’t negotiate, manage or control what that help might actually be like. He knew he had disobeyed God. He knew that God was real. He knew He was of royal linage and the idea that he might ever become displaced by some One so powerful was not something he was willing to risk. In other words, Ahaz figured he could work something out with Tiglath-pilesar, even if it meant more servitude; at least he would remain in control. He was committed to what he could see, not what God saw for him.
How many of us are not willing to trust God at His word because we are like Ahaz? We dare not risk losing control of the fake lives we’ve postured up for others to see. We have confidence that we are eternally secure, and that’s more than enough. Like Ahaz we are surrounded by trouble, brokenness, and betrayal. We, like Ahaz, also have some skills that allow us to maneuver through life with degrees of comfort. But when God comes professing His all-powerful protection plan for us, we cower away with pious, highly religious words dropping off our lips that sound like, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”
The prepackaged and prerecorded portraits of someone else’s spiritual experiences sit in us as hollow reminders of the true depths of our spiritual maturity. We live for the present without any hope for the future because as long as we manage, we dare not risk giving God access to transform our situations. The idea of God doing the crazy things – He is apt to do – are simply too much of a bother for us to consider. It would mean we would have to trust a dangerous God who is truly out of our or anyone else’s’ control.
Do you live in continual hopelessness, despair and shame? Do you truly believe God can do the unimaginable? Have you learned to walk out Hebrew 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God, and those who would draw near to Him, but first believe that He exist; and that He is a rewarder of those who seek after Him.” Are you willing to cast your cares upon the Lord, because you’ve been humbled enough to know that all the false piety and religious pretenses in the world will all become transparent as soon as the veil is lifted…your true hope.
Through the power of Jesus Christ, you may respond to the invitation for the transformative life that everything around you decry’s impossible. Yes, will you have to risk his sovereign occupation of your very life? Yes. Should you naturally be a little concerned that Jesus is so powerful that to invite Him in is to forfeit your rights to control the outcomes? Absolutely. But just as with King Ahaz, He only invites you to the dance. Jesus Christ desires the better for your life than you could ever hope, dream or imagine.
Join me and other’s as we celebrate this new year with the newness that is available through the resurrected power of Jesus Christ. You too can be delivered and made brand new— beyond your wildest imagination’s.
God’s peace and journey well;
Have a Wonderfully Joyous New Year 2016
a david griffin
The Griffin’s Family-On-Mission