A whirl pool of worries are constantly at banging on the door. Rise to a morning, pondering over the decisions to take. One faulty step and the future is doomed. Compromises or confrontations—what is the method?
King Ahaz, the King of Judah, was facing a national situation of another battle against his superpowers—King of Aram and King of Israel. He was sweating in his chambers recollecting the earlier defeat against these two kingdoms (2 Ch. 28, 5-8).
Pekah, son of Remaliah, Israel’s king was one of the threats to Judah. He killed his own king Pekahiah and usurped his throne (2 Kgs. 15,25). The two men had differences in their relations with the foreign kingdom—Assyria. The older man shook hands with Assyria while the latter joined hands with Aram to attack Assyria. This foreign nation brought shivers to Israel. There were two ways to protect themselves from it—either to become allies or agree for a battle. Pekah chose the aggressive means and wanted the support of Judah too. It was a shivering state for Judah to decide—shake hands or war against them.
Rezin, King of Aram had captured Elath, a port town developed in Solomon’s reign (2 Kgs. 16,6 ;1Kgs. 9,26). The people of Judah were driven out from Elath. So, Judah had a bitter experience with Rezin. They were busted by this north-east kingdom. In addition, their brother, Israel, was in allegiance with this hostile nation. Judah had two enemies to battle before they faced their giant, Assyria.
The king of Judah was surrounded by arrows aimed at him. No wonder, his heart was shaken “as the trees of the forest are shaken” (Isa. 7,2). He had three options before him—Ahaz could ally with Egypt against the three or join hands with Ephraim and Aram against Assyria or face Assyria by himself.
God had another plan for him. Isaiah is sent with his son, Shear Jashub (his name signifies a remnant will return). Isaiah prophesies for redemption to Judah. The sign will be the birth of a child.
Isaiah meets King Ahaz at an aqueduct of the Upper Pool. The King may have been inspecting the water supply when the prophet visited him. Ironically, close to the aqueduct, about 30 miles away is Lachish where Assyria demanded Judah’s submission (Isa. 36,2). The King was on a domestic affairs of the state but the foreign affairs were persistent. He was threatened by the invading outer forces but did not neglect on the internal matters of his kingdom.
A message of comfort reaches him—“Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid” (Is.7, 4). He is encouraged to be strong against the teeny-weeny kings of Aram and Ephraim (Israel). It was a prophecy concerning the future events. In 732 BCE, Tiglath Pilesar III crushed Damascus, Aram’s capital. In the same year, Israel was also subdued. God knew their end, but King Ahaz was unaware. He could only hear of the threats from these two schemers. God assured Ahaz that he needn’t be afraid of them.
The future of Rezin and Pekah was declared in time. God assured Ahaz to the extent that he informed him in accuracy of the upcoming doom of the foes. Although it would not happen in Ahaz’s period of time, he was given a promise about his kingdom. All he needed to do was to stay strong because the forces was strong in his period of time. For until the destruction of Aram and Samaria, Judah would be constantly attacked. Against the doubt of defeat or surrender, God instils confidence in Ahaz to remain firm in faith (7, 9). This is the test our times, when the attacks around us so harsh that we lose faith. But the war is not won by threats.
Test of faith is the message of our Immanuel God. There are armies marching against us. We know their strategies. We are aware of the evil schemes they have against us. We are surrounded by our own brother-turned-enemy, then a neighbour and the most impending danger is from a terrifying kingdom. In the midst of such turmoil, the message is God is with us. He is the mightiest! Strongest! Victorious! Who can stand against him! God only wants us to trust him.
Ahaz’s story does not end with his dependence on God. He chose to befriend Tiglath Pileser, King of Assyria (2 Kgs. 16,7-9). The result was thrashing defeat. Israel and Aram were stubbed by Assyria in the same year. And Judah was sheared with a razor—the Assyrians (Is. 7, 20).
“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (Isa. 7, 9b) No confrontations neither compromises, faith in God to take us forward is the prophetic method or message.