It's that time of year that every preacher worth his salt is doing messages on Christmas. But rather than add to what was already being heard, God led me on a slight bunny trail. I heard the tail end of a message about Jesus' birth fulfilling all the prophecies made on it, so I started there. One of the most famous was in Isaiah 7; but you can look this up, because I said this was going down a bunny trail. The thing that sparked Isaiah's prophecy was King Ahaz of Judah refusing to ask God for a sign. That said a lot about Ahaz, so I backtracked to learn why he would say, "I'm not going to bug the Lord for a sign" in defiance of Isaiah- then I foretracked to find the results thereof.
What you find just two chapters later was the further prophecy by Isaiah of the coming Messiah, and in verse 6 He is given four names. What I then did was look at those names transposed against how Ahaz saw God- and saw a lot of similar actions to our own.*
*Note that when I say "our own", I am including myself first and foremost. That way when you get to the end and think, "How dare he?" You'll know to add"...say that about himself?"
The first name is Wonderful Counsellor. Isn't that neat? Jesus becomes the one we can go to with our problems, our questions, even our frustrations. But the rub is, we can't use Him as the last resort. Jesus wants to be our FIRST CHOICE to talk to; failing that, you might not get the answer that you want. Witness Ahaz:
10 Then King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He saw an altar in Damascus and sent to Uriah the priest a sketch of the altar, with detailed plans for its construction. 11 So Uriah the priest built an altar in accordance with all the plans that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus and finished it before King Ahaz returned. 12 When the king came back from Damascus and saw the altar, he approached it and presented offerings[a] on it. 13 He offered up his burnt offering and grain offering, poured out his drink offering, and splashed the blood of his fellowship offerings against the altar. 14 As for the bronze altar that stood before the Lord, he brought it from the front of the temple—from between the new altar and the temple of the Lord—and put it on the north side of the new altar. (From 2 Kings 16)
And then, just a little later:
“On the large new altar, offer the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering, the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, and the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their grain offering and their drink offering. Splash against this altar the blood of all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. But I will use the bronze altar for seeking guidance.”
So there was God, pulled from the front, shoved to one side, occasionally used for guidance. And what was it brought Ahaz to this decision? What takes YOU there?
The next phrase used for the coming Messiah is, Mighty God. And where was Ahaz on that subject?
7 Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, “I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the Lord and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. 9 The king of Assyria complied by attacking Damascus and capturing it. He deported its inhabitants to Kir and put Rezin to death.
Among other items he worshipped (2 Chronicles makes it fairly clear he worshipped a LOT of things), he saw himself prostrate before Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria. It was to him he went in times of trouble, he that Ahaz gave his all to. Why? Because Ahzaz saw Judah in trouble relying on God (if you could call it that) and TP successful in everything he did. So if you wanted something done right IN THIS WORLD, TP was the way to go. So why wasn't God making Judah successful?
The next term for the Messiah is Everlasting Father. A father commands the obedience of his children. Was Judah being obedient? Well, even though the last few kings before Ahaz had "done what is right in the sight of the Lord", none of them took down the places of pagan worship... and so the people still went there. But when Ahaz hit the stage, things really took off in the wrong direction. It wasn't enough for Ahaz to just move in a copy of TP's altar in Damascus into his Father's House:
17 King Ahaz cut off the side panels and removed the basins from the movable stands. He removed the Sea from the bronze bulls that supported it and set it on a stone base. 18 He took away the Sabbath canopy[b] that had been built at the temple and removed the royal entryway outside the temple of the Lord, in deference to the king of Assyria.
Note this significance: He closed off the door that HE HIMSELF was supposed to use to enter the presence of God. He willingly cut himself off from God, "in deference to the King of Assyria". So the road for Ahaz began with a tradition of passive disobedience, which in the end gave him his "excuse" for total rejection. Do we come to God, unrepentant and disobedient, demand He change OUR circumstance as the bridgeprice for faith, and deny Him when He doesn't accede? "A loving God would do thus and so", we say, and stay out of the Word and the church because of "what God didn't do", never acknowledging that WE didn't do what we were supposed to to gain the audience in the first place? Reminds me of the idiot who put tattoos all over his face and neck and wonders why he has to be a criminal to make a living. When you ask of God, do you go presentable?
Lastly, the coming Messiah is called Prince of Peace. Ahaz served TP because TP could make war better than he could. He rejected God's altar for TP's because of the power it represented. You may not think of yourself as a person of war, but think of the promises to the meek and humble, the poor in spirit, and ask: When I pray, do I say, "I do not deserve what I have," or "HE does not deserve what he has"?
So then when we look at Jesus, Ahaz brings to mind these questions: Do I go to Him first in times of trouble, or after I "consult with the Board"? Do I come to Him with respect as God, or just when I need something? Do I come to Him in obedience and repentance, or like He's an ATM machine? And am I coming in a peaceful spirit and humble, or self-righteous and demanding? Keep in mind, Ahaz came from a TRADITION of passive disobedience, and used his failure to connect to God to excuse much worse sins later. Have you trimmed down your high places lately?