Stories from the Old Testament for coping with 2023 

Part 10, Ahaz conclusion (Part 9, March 3)

When Jesus cried out in John 7:38-39, “Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit,” it harks back to the “stream of water” flowing down from the Upper Pool to the Fuller’s Field in Isaiah 7:3

Because what that stream of water pictured was “the blessing of the most High” (the meaning of ‘Upper Pool’) flowing down to the fullers who used the water to clean their woollen cloth and turn it into something strong and long lasting. And here’s Jesus in John 7 – who really is “the blessing of the most High” – talking of “streams of living water” flowing out from within people because of the work of the Holy Spirit in them. 

And for the same purpose too. The blessing of the most High flowing into Ahaz would have transformed him from being a scared child into a strong, confident leader, so he could stand before his people and cry out, “I know God will strengthen and help us, because he did it for me.” This was the opportunity God offered Ahaz, including whatever sign Ahaz wanted that would prove what God was promising both him and his people was true. 

If only Ahaz had trusted God, then, because what a different story it would have been. And how frustrating it is for us too, that Ahaz didn’t grab what God was freely offering, because now we’re left hanging not knowing what might have happened instead if he had. 

So, what was the purpose of that story if we’re left with no idea of what sign Ahaz would have asked for, and no amazing story of God responding? But what if it was written in preparation for God offering the same opportunity again, so that those it was being offered to wouldn’t make the same mistake? 

Because through Jesus that’s exactly what he’s done. He’s re-created the scene all over again. We’ve got a stream of water too, also picturing the blessing of the most High flowing into us, and for the same reason, to transform us from being frightened and frail human beings in scary times into a force of strength, confidence and courage for those we care for. 

And with an amazing sign to prove it, the Holy Spirit “within” us doing in us what God would have done in Ahaz, so that we too can say to those we know are having trouble coping in these scary times in 2023, “I know God is real, because he’s proved it again and again to me.” 

Because what have we got to offer people if we haven’t got that? If I have no story to tell that God is real, I’m just another typical human being who gets all stressed out and looks to worldly methods for coping, just like Ahaz, none of which will give me, or the people I care for, the peace that only God can give. 

Which makes the story of Ahaz highly relevant for us today, because it shows us that God is more than willing to make himself real to us in our scary moments, so we can be a fearless strength for others.

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