At some points in redemptive history, God was with His people in spite of their failure. In other points—actually at a very key point—God was with His people because of their failure.
King Ahaz was a failure. I’m not talking about what the world would call a “failure.” I’m not even talking about the constructive kind of failure that is sometimes necessary along the pathway to innovation and resilience. I am talking about moral failure, what the Bible calls sin.
Ahaz’s sins were no small things, either. They included relentless and unrepentant idolatry, and even sacrificing his own son on the flames of the altar (2 Kings 16:3).
In spite of his failure, God promised to be with him, and at probably the most crucial moment in his life. Two neighboring nations allied against him, and not much farther away the mighty empire of Assyria destroyed anyone who dared to oppose it. Ahaz was scrambling to choose the right side when the prophet Isaiah assured him God had it all under control and could be trusted above any earthly kingdom.
When Ahaz refused to ask for a sign to validate Isaiah’s prophetic message, God gave him one anyway: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
When this first “Immanuel” child was born, 700 years before Christ, it was to serve as validation of God’s promise that His people’s political adversaries would be defeated by the time this child was weaned. This Immanuel sign echoed the same promise heard throughout Scripture, that God was with His people in the hardest of times and when they least deserved it. He was Immanuel, even in spite of their failure. Seven hundred years later, God fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy in an even more radical way—He became God with us by becoming one of us. At this pivotal moment in redemptive history, God was Immanuel not just in spite of our failure, but even because of our failure. It was because of our failure that He took on flesh to bear the consequences we deserved. It was because of our failure that He bore our feeble frame so as to be faithful in every way that we cannot. And it was because of our failure that He “came to save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
FROM OUR JESSUP FAMILY TO YOURS.
Advent represents a unique time of reflection and expectation as we prepare our hearts and homes for celebrating the birth of our Savior. Join William Jessup University’s School of Theology and Leadership as they lead us in daily devotions during this special Advent season. These devotionals support themes involving resilience, restoration, renewal and the assurance that God is with us.