4 Advent - Isaiah 7:10-16 (Matthew 1:18-25)
It's about that time of year when the Christmas shopping list is whittled down to that one person you can't find anything for.
They insist they don't want or need anything, so anything you get them might be wrong, but it also feels wrong to get them nothing at all.
The Bible has a name for this impossible person: King Ahaz.
And God feels your frustration too.
Ahaz needs to be cheered up after working himself up into a lather about the neighbors.
Two nearby kings tried and failed to attack Jerusalem, so in Isaiah's words, the heart of
Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
Ahaz is very scared of very little.
So God sends Isaiah, who says to him: Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let
your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps...
Or, in the words of a more recent prophet, Settle down, Beavis.
It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.
Still Ahaz continues to fret, so God decides to take him shopping with that rarest of offers, a
divine blank check.
Ask a sign of the LORD your God: let it be as deep as Sheol or high as heaven.
What can I show you to convince you that I am God and the local bullies are not?
You name it, I'll do it.
God doesn't make this offer very often, so please, don't expect it.
Ahaz, king of Judah, leader of the nation, and nervous little twit, replies like a timid Lutheran.
I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.
Oh, you don't have to get me anything, I don't want to be a burden...exactly what you would
expect to hear from the biggest burden on your list.
Isaiah is not impressed.
Is it not enough that you exhaust people—now you have to exhaust God too?
Pause the story here, because this might be exactly where we find ourselves right now.