By Paul Keim, professor of Bible and religion at Goshen College
Reprinted from Advent Devotionals
O, Ahaz! Scion of the house of David. You’re like the part of me that loves the forms of faith, but shies from the substance of it. You want to be taken care of, but cannot bring yourself to trust what you cannot see. Sitting on your ivory throne, all seized up by dangers real and conjured. Seeking refuge in false piety. Dancing on God’s last nerve – you prefer Assyria over a sign.
O, Ahaz! Mysteries abound: There is a young woman out there, perhaps from the royal house; perhaps the prophetic spouse. Or is she just a version . . . of our imagination? No matter. She is “expecting,” and she will bear a child, and name that child: God-Is-With-Us. And before that baby stops eating Greek yoghurt (here comes the point), in less time than it takes for it to know naughty and nice (we are approaching the point), those spectral dangers that disturb your sleep will have been swept away, and (voilà le point) the verbal shall become hominal.
O, Ahaz! Still groping to grasp the meaning of Immanuel. Still preferring your tired realpolitik. That child has come of age. Those former threats have passed (though new ones will emerge). Meanwhile, the freckled glow on the ruddy cheek of that child of promise should remind you every dawning day that no matter what the son of Ramaliah and his ilk are up to, God is about the baffling business of Being-With-Us.
Isaiah 7:10-16 (NRSV)