One thing about Old Testament prophets, they knew how to cut to the chase. No mincing of words, and few, if any, would get high marks in diplomacy. It’s not that they didn’t understand politics, they just didn’t care.
I particularly like this exchange between Isaiah and the current king of Judah, Ahaz—
“…Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” (NLT)
Here’s how another version puts it:
“…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (NIV)
Of course, if you want to few more thoughts on the passage:
“…If you will not believe [and trust in God and His message], be assured that you will not be established.” (AMP)
Flashback to the time before any Hebrew kings at all, the time when God provided judges to guide His people. On more than one occasion, the judge, Gideon, needed a little confirmation from God—something about a fleece. God also invited him to go tiptoeing into the enemy camp to overhear them talking about a dream indicating Israel’s victory in a pending battle. God knew His man needed some encouragement.
So here God offers to help Ahaz’s faith also:
“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want— as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.’ But the king refused. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will not test the LORD like that.’ Then Isaiah said, ‘Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?’”
At first this seems pious on Ahaz’s part; even Jesus quotes the OT on this point when Satan tempts Him for a sign from God. But Satan wasn’t in the same category as God’s prophet, Isaiah, and Ahaz didn’t exactly have the standing relationship with the Father that Jesus did.
So what’s the point??
At the core, the Creator chooses to interact with His creation. If faith in God is a necessary ingredient to standing firm in what He calls me to do, then God is more than willing to increase/confirm that faith by whatever means He chooses to bring me into the full destiny of His purpose. Granted, I might not be in line for a sign, but neither am I expected to be the opus of decision-making. In other words, we’re not on our own in this faith-walk thing, not by a long shot.
“…focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]…”
I guess I’m in pretty good company.
Isaiah 7:9, 10-13 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Isaiah 7:9 Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.