Our world is not so different from Ahaz’s world. The threat of war and rumors of war abound. Fear is on the rise, and wickedness reigns throughout the land. Pandemic. Social unrest. Racial tensions. Riots in the streets. If we are honest with ourselves, we too are tempted to make alliances…compromises to ensure our well-being. We hope in politicians or jobs or bank accounts or status or retirement plans or followers or people or you fill-in-the-blank to save us…anything other than the Lord. And being overwhelmed by the circumstances of life, we too quickly forget that Jesus promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. That He is Immanuel…God with us.
Inevitably we will face a crisis…illness, death of a loved one, loss of a job, broken relationships, dashed hopes, forgotten dreams. Sooner or later we all have to answer the question: If I put my trust in God, if my hope is in Him, will He save me? Does He really love me, and does He really care about me and my circumstances? Our answer is either a confident “yes” or a wavering “I’m not sure.” Is God a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God who is intimately involved in His creation who knows me and loves me and cares about me, or is He a God who is out there, too big and too busy to be bothered with me and my little problems, who is only looking out for His own interests?
You see, just as folks in Isaiah’s day found out…when God’s people don’t trust Him as they should, when their hope is in anything or anyone else, they pay a price for it. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all (cf. Isaiah 7.9b). But God’s grace always has the last word—His grace triumphs over our failure. God is with us. He is present in our crises. If we will hope in Him, He will save us. If we refuse Him, He will discipline us. But know this…He delights to save us.
Are you making alliances or compromises to save yourself, or are you hoping in God? Your level of worry/fear/discontentment vs. contentment/joy/rest is a good indicator. The more your hope rests with God, the more the fruits of the Spirit will abound. But when your hope is anywhere else…not so much. One practical way to remember that God is with you is to write “hope” on a post-it and place it somewhere where you’ll see it often.
One last thing…even though Ahaz is a wicked king, God graciously invites him to trust in Him. If you have not yet trusted in Jesus as your Savior, then God offers the same gracious invitation to you. He wants you to trust Him, then you too can experience the hope that only Jesus can bring, knowing that He is with you always. But don’t wait. The time is short. Just as God is with those of us who have trusted in Him for salvation, so He is also with those who refuse Him for judgment.
May you experience the hope of “God with us” in a very real and powerful way this Christmas season. May you experience Hope Delivered.
This post is based on a sermon from our Advent series, Joy Delivered. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster