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The Fourth Sunday in Advent A – December 18, 2022

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The Fourth Sunday in Advent A – December 18, 2022

Ahaz is a pretty slippery character.  He professed reverence for the Lord by pretending to obey the law.  His pretext was the wilderness account as told in Dt. 6:16— “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test…” and affirmed by Jesus in the wilderness, tempted by Satan (Mt. 4:7).  Ahaz’s false display of reverence was two-fold:  He had no desire to do the will of God if that meant giving up his negotiations with Assyria and he did desire to persist in his idolatry of foreign gods by worshiping at their altars on the high places (cf. 2 Ki. 17:3-10).  Ahaz may have been king over the Lord’s chosen people, but he held little respect for the Lord’s power over all the supposed gods and idols of other nations.

There is an abrupt shift in tone between verses 14-16 and verse 17.  The former recount the Lord’s blessing upon Ahaz and the Lord’s chosen people through the granting of a sign named Immanuel—meaning, “the Lord is with us.”  The latter verse shifts dramatically from this favorable sign of reassurance to the harshness of the violence awaiting the Lord’s people as the Assyrians eventually overrun the northern kingdom visiting destruction and depopulation upon it.  Ahaz and the people will suffer for his idolatry.  The Lord, however, remains faithful to his promise:  There will be an Immanuel.

So, too, for you.  You, a sinner, are as slippery as Ahaz.  During these, the days of your baptism, you have had occasion to spurn the will of God for the pursuit of your own chosen activities; you have demonstrated a desire to continue in your sin and persist in your practice of idolatry.  This old creation is broken by sin and indeed it will pass away.  The opportunity for faithlessness abounds and you will take it up.  It is the sinner’s way.  And so, there are consequences to you and the world’s unfaithful sinfulness.  Suffering multiplies.  Your Lord remains faithful, though.  You do have the sign.  The virgin did give birth.  That child, a son, is called Immanuel.  He is the Christ, Jesus the Messiah, handed over from the pulpit, the font, and the altar to be “God with you” even in the midst of your suffering in this old, sin-broken creation.

Table Talk—Discuss the opportunities you’ve taken for idolatry.
Pray—Heavenly Father, keep me steadfast in your Word; it remains my only hope.  Amen

Isaiah 7:10-17 English Standard Version

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria!”


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