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Patient Promises

I am very glad that God’s promises are stronger than my attitudes. Even though I know God is faithful, loving, always true, totally committed, righteous, and unchanging, I still grumble, resist and act foolishly at times. I couldn’t help but relate to King Ahaz in Isaiah 7.
While Ahaz was the King of Judah, he came under attack. Two kings north of him joined forces and conspired to overthrow him. The threat must have seemed credible because “the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” (v. 2) The threat, however, was only a virtual creation. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to proclaim, “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood . . .” (v. 4) God promised to protect him, guide him and provide for him despite the fact that his enemies were fiercely opposed to him. Isaiah was not denying reality in communicating these promises as he said, “Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, ‘Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves.’” (v. 5-6) The intention to do harm was real but everything in Ahaz’s life had to pass through the filter of God’s oversight.
Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD said to the earthly king:
“‘It will not take place,
it will not happen, . . .
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’” (v. 7-9)
To convince Ahaz of His protection, God told him to, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” (v. 11) Now, normally asking God for a sign is not a good idea since it smacks of manipulation. In this case, however, God initiated the idea so it became a step of obedience. “But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.’” (v. 12)
You can almost see God rolling his eyes as Ahaz says this. Telling God that He didn’t mean what He said is never a good idea. “Then Isaiah said, ‘Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.’” (v. 13-15)
God is disappointed in Ahaz’s attitude and actions. You can sense the frustration as a limited human being tries to out think an infinite God. And yet, in the midst of the mismatch God makes one of the most important promises in history. The Savior of the world is coming and He can be recognized without a doubt because He will be born to a virgin.
That is just the way our God is. He makes promises because of who He is not because of who we are. He keeps His promises because it is in His nature to do so not because we have earned what He has offered. He is patient with His promises because He knows they will all be fulfilled and amazingly we are the beneficiaries.

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