Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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December 20 – Firm In Faith

“‘If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’  Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, ‘Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’  But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.’  And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.'”  Isaiah 7:9-14

Devotional Thought For The Day

Lost on the scholars who question whether or not there was some fulfillment of this sign in Ahaz’s and Isaiah’s day is the fact that such an occurrence would be a sign of God’s omnipotence and His willingness and freedom to violate “natural laws.”  If these words are taken seriously at all then we must also consider that God here promises to enter into human existence as a man – for the name “Immanuel” means “God with us.”  Any “fulfillment” of this “sign” in that time would mean that Christ has come twice – once then, and once again [to take on a new human nature of the Virgin Mary] some 700 years later.  All of this is absurd, and Scripture makes clear that Jesus of Nazareth is the one and only fulfillment of this sign [see Matt. 1:23].

Ahaz understood that demanding or requiring a “sign” was offensive to God, to the way of faith which God has chosen as the basis of His relationship with human beings.  It was tantamount to rejecting God’s Word, calling His faithfulness and truthfulness into question, and asserting that He could possibly be a liar.  So whenever we require such “signs” or put our faith and trust in empirical experiences, we are “putting the LORD to the test.”  Even the rather miserable King Ahaz knew that this couldn’t be a good idea – and rejected it. In so doing, however, he was doing exactly what he knew we should never do – and that is rejecting the Word of God. It must have been baffling to Ahaz that God would acquiesce to providing something that shouldn’t have been necessary to those who are “firm in faith” – and promising it in His Word. However, once promised in His Word it should have been embraced heartily and rejoiced in.  God was not trying to trick Ahaz – nor is He trying to trick or confuse anyone or lure them away from His Word, when in His Word He promises and confirms empirical signs to bolster firmness in faith.  But always, it depends upon His Word, and we are directed to His Word alone.

All of this is of critical importance, also to we who are believers and children of God in these latter days.  For “if you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”  Note how everything hinges upon “faith,” and “firmness” of faith.  Without this “faith” [which is not empirical – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1] there can be no “firmness,” no “groundedness,” no safety and health “at all.”  So those who rely upon “signs” and “reason” and “common sense” as the principle supports and foundation for their thinking and “believing” have no firmness in faith, and therefore cannot be firm at all.  Likewise, those who claim to have “deeds” but no need for “creeds,” who emphasize “works” over “faith,” are delusional.  Without faith there are no truly “good deeds” or “good works” – only pathetic fakes and facsimiles of what God truly wills and desires for human being.  Where does such “faith” which provides firmness, health, peace, joy, and renewal of heart and life come from?  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” [Rom. 10:17]  And faith is the gift of God, His work in us. [John 6:29]

God has fulfilled the “sign” promised to Ahaz through His prophets Isaiah and Micah [see also Mic. 5:2-4].  He fulfilled it in the coming of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that first Christmas.  We believe this not by “seeing,” but by His Word – though many who actually did “see” Immanuel, and touch Him, have given faithful historical witness to what He taught and did for our salvation [in the New Testament writings]. Faith, however, is not directed to the empirical, but rather the Word of God, and faith comes only through the Word of God – as it has been from the beginning, was in Ahaz’s day, and is to this very day.  So God continues to urge us to His Word, that our faith may be firm – and when our faith is firm, then we have “firmness” in all things, as the apostle prays: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” [Rom. 15:13] For through His Word we come to know and believe the love He has for us, that God is love.  God grant that we may be firm in this faith and trust in His love, through His precious and powerful Word, so that we may also be firm in all things.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, Immanuel, great “sign” and proof of God’s wondrous love for us, thank You for bringing us forgiveness and cleansing from all our sins, full and complete redemption and salvation, peace with God and the sure and certain hope of eternal life in the heights of Your glorious heavenly kingdom.  Grant us firmness in faith, joyous confidence and courage in Your Word, that in all things we may be firm in that goodness and peace which endures forever.  Amen.