Stories from the Old Testament for coping with 2023 

Part 9, King Ahaz (Part 8, Feb 24)

Imagine being king Ahaz, terrified at the prospect of powers beyond his control about to destroy his nation – much like some of us may feel today faced with powers beyond our control threatening to wreck our world as well. So is there something in this story of Ahaz that has meaning for us too? 

God, for instance, gave Ahaz clues in children’s names and locations that spelled out clearly what he would do for Ahaz and his nation. One clue being the sign God gave to Ahaz to prove that he, God, could be trusted to deal with Ahaz’s dread and remove what was causing it (Isaiah 7:16), the sign being a child born whose name would be Immanuel (verse 14). 

Well, it didn’t mean much to Ahaz, but another child called Immanuel would be born 700 years later, who would take people’s minds back to this child in Isaiah, because Matthew quotes this verse from Isaiah when applying it to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1:23). So, what might seem like a rather obscure sign in Isaiah for Ahaz, suddenly jumps out of its context as a sign of another Immanuel sent by God – and for the same reason, to rescue and save God’s people.    

And this is where the location – that God had Ahaz meet with Isaiah at – also jumps out of its context for us today. 

The meeting spot was “at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Fuller’s Field,” Isaiah 7:3. So a stream of water flowing down from a Pool meaning ‘the blessing of the most High’ was made use of by ‘fullers’ to wash their woollen cloth clean of all dirt and other debris, and along with some serious pounding turn their cloth into something long lasting, protective against the elements, and a pleasure to wear. 

The message for Ahaz clearly being that God would do all these things for Ahaz to turn him from being a scaredy-cat and a weakling into a strong, confident, and inspiring leader for his people – if, that is, Ahaz believed him. 

Ahaz didn’t, but God didn’t end the story of Ahaz there, because the Immanuel pictured by Isaiah appeared again, yelling out to the crowd at the temple in John 7:38-39, “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit.” 

A flowing stream of water, eh? Just like the stream of water flowing down from the Upper Pool as a blessing from the Most High for Ahaz. And here it was again. But would we catch the meaning of it?….(part 10, March 10)

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