Lord, save your
The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
Ahaz was the King of Judah, a king in the line of David. He was a man without faith and he refused to follow the guidance of Isaiah. The prior king, Hezekiah, was a man of trusting faith and he followed Isaiahâ€™s guidance.
Now Ahaz was in trouble. King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel had joined together to attack Ahazâ€™s capital, Jerusalem. Isaiah steps forward to assure Ahaz that they will not be successful, yet Ahaz will not believe. Rather than placing his confidence in Godâ€™s word, he takes the treasures he has stolen from the temple and sends them to the king of Assyria.
Ahaz goes even further. In sending this â€œgiftâ€ to the king of Assyria he says: â€œI am your servant and your son. Come up, and rescue me.â€ He effectively rejects Godâ€™s help and chooses a pagan king instead.
Through Isaiah, God speaks to the urgent need of trusting in His promises by issuing a threat: â€œIf you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.â€ Isaiahâ€™s words speak to us too. We need to trust God, and there is inherent danger in failing to do so. Whether Ahaz stands or falls, whether we stand or fall, depends entirely on trust in Godâ€™s word.
In the face of Ahazâ€™s unbelief, his rejection, and his failure to trust, God tries one more time. He tells Ahaz â€“ ask for anything, anything at all. God makes His divine power available to Ahaz in a limitless manner. Ahaz, however, refuses this opportunity. His unbelief is complete. His refusal to trust finally wears down Godâ€™s patience. So, God gives His sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
At the start of Holy Mass we placed a special focus on examining our conscience and asking God for His forgiveness. In doing so we take seriously the prophecy of Isaiah. This is a text that points to Godâ€™s saving power and the surety of condemnation for unbelief. Where do we place ourselves, standing at the manger? Will we trust God and ask for the sky, or shrink away?
Todayâ€™s gospel reminds us â€“ the Messiahâ€™s coming is immanent! It is almost here!
Jesus is messianic in the fullest sense of the word â€“ He saves, teaches, blesses, forgives, and judges. In this Advent season, we must remember that the King whose return we long for, Who we are preparing for, will return in full apocalyptic glory, as both Judge and Savior. In these last few days of Advent we are invited to hope, pray, and long for this revelation. We are invited most of all to prepare by increasing our trust in the Lordâ€™s power to save. Trust and say: Lord, save me, Your servant!