The influential and powerful people in our world today have taken the view that us ordinary folks are a danger to ourselves and to the planet, so our behaviour needs to be closely monitored and regulated, which will likely mean more restrictions on our freedoms in 2023, and more sacrifices on our part that may well cause even more frustration, anger and hurt.
With that in mind, are there stories in the Old Testament in God’s dealings with Israel that may offer us some useful tidbits for coping with what may be coming up this year – that help heal the hurts and give us hope when things seem hopeless? Well, several stories came to mind, but how about this one to start off with….
It’s the story of king Ahaz, crowned king of the Jews at the tender age of twenty, whose reign kicked off with a hopeless situation. Two other kings had joined forces and invaded his country, killing thousands of his fellow Jews and carting off thousands more as prisoners. But both kings felt justified in their vicious attack on non-violent innocents because Ahaz wasn’t complying with their narrative, that they should all join forces together to keep their people safe from terrorists, in their case the Assyrians.
So they put the fear up Ahaz to get him to comply, which worked surprisingly well, because “Ahaz and his people were shaking like trees in the wind” (Isaiah 7:2). Mass hysteria rapidly spread through the land, paralyzing them all in helpless, shivering panic, so that no one had any idea what to do.
Which God was aware of, because he contacts Isaiah and tells him to take his young son Shear-Jashub (Shee’ar-Yashub) with him for a chat with the king. It seems like an odd idea taking his boy with him, because the little chap doesn’t actually say or do anything when they meet with Ahaz.
But the message for the king wasn’t in what the boy said, it was in the boy’s name, because it meant A Remnant Will Return. It means, Ahaz, that even if your people are all dragged off as prisoners and life seems hopeless, God will make sure that some will return to settle and rebuild. In other words, this isn’t the end of the world, Ahaz. The planet will survive and so will your nation, despite what the fear mongering alarmists are saying.
So Isaiah’s advice from God to Ahaz is, “Stay calm, and don’t be frightened by those pompous windbags, because to God they’re just a couple of smouldering stubs of firewood (verse 4), all smoke and no flame. Oh, they’ll spout and threaten if you don’t comply with their demands (verses 5-6), but – and here’s the point you need to get, Ahaz (verse 9) – that if you don’t stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”
(Continuing in part 2 on Friday – taking into account 1 Corinthians 10:11, that “These things happened to them (Israel in the OT) as examples for us”)