Day 15 — Sunday, December 11, 2022

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. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.
Isaiah 7:10–16

Have you ever asked God for a sign? I have. I’ve asked for mile-markers on the journey (How long, O Lord, how long?), or a sign to help me make the right decision. I’ve asked for signs of answered prayer and signs of hope in hard times. I’ve asked for signs of God’s presence in circumstances that have left me wondering if God has walked off the job.

Scripture tells us that God seems to love to give signs to his people. God painted the sky with the moon and stars as a sign for seasons and days and years (Genesis 1:14); God placed a bow in the heavens as a sign of his covenant (Genesis 9:12); God worked signs in Egypt to free his people, and Jesus came performing signs and wonders so that we might come to believe and have life in his name (John 20:30–31). In this life of faith, maintaining our conviction of things not seen, we need signs (things seen) and are grateful when they come.

The prophet Isaiah went out to meet King Ahaz that day and comes to meet us this day with the giving of another sign. As it turns out, God has not walked off the job.

“Ask a sign of the Lord your God” (Isaiah 7:11). Go ahead, ask. When you descend to Sheol — into the moments of death and pain, darkness and hopelessness we all experience — ask. When you ascend to the heights, ask. Is God with me here, even here? A woman will conceive, a Son will be born. The Lord himself will give you a sign, Immanuel — God with us.  

O come, dear child of Mary, come,
God’s Word made flesh within our earthly home;
Love stir within the womb of night,
Revenge and hatred put to flight.
Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,
God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

Rev. Jennifer Ryden is the senior chaplain at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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