In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah… (Isa 7:1)
Stick with me for a moment as we briefly wade into a little bit of history and context. There’s a line delivered by a prophet of God in Isaiah 7 that is just as relevant and needed as anything else you’ll hear today.
Ahaz was Judah’s twelfth king following the splintering of Judah and Israel into divided kingdoms (2 Kings 16:1). Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem (16:2).
And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree. (16:3-4)
Both 2 Kings 16 and Isaiah 7 describe the kings of Syria and Israel coming against Ahaz to wage war on Jerusalem. Judah’s king was outnumbered and afraid. “The heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (Isa 7:2). So where did he turn in his great hour of need? The royal heir of David who ruled in the shadow of Yahweh’s temple decided the best help possible must be in the biggest, baddest human empire of the day.
So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria. (16:7-8)
Unsurprisingly, the LORD had some things to say to Ahaz in response and Isaiah 7 provides plenty of insight into where David’s descendant went wrong. But could I draw your attention to a most powerful line from Isaiah’s message? It’s a bite-sized truth worth carrying with you wherever you go today.
“If you are not firm in faith,
you will not be firm at all.” (Isa 7:9)
Without faith in the one living God, what good would burning your own son as an offering to a lifeless idol do?
Without faith in the God of angel armies, how firm would a temporary alliance with the pagan empire of Assyria really make Ahaz?
Without faith, if you insist on ignoring the LORD’s prophet, what difference will the highest and strongest city walls really make?
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. That was true then. It’s true now.
If you are not firm in faith…
…you can have more money than you know what to do with…
…you can have multiple houses in multiple states, in multiple countries, on multiple continents…
…you can vacation every weekend…
…you can have a following like a celebrity…
…you can be cheered and affirmed like a rock star…
…you can live like a king or a queen…
…and you can devote every waking moment to enjoying every ounce of it all…
…but if you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.
So what did Ahaz need to do to be firm in faith? Ironically, he needed to say to and of the LORD what he said to the king of Assyria. “I am your servant. I am your son. Come up and rescue me. By faith, I entrust into your hands all that I have and all that I am.” Isn’t that still the path to firmness of faith?
Forever, O LORD, your word
is firmly fixed in the heavens.
Your faithfulness endures to all generations;
you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
By your appointment they stand this day,
for all things are your servants.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
The wicked lie in wait to destroy me,
but I consider your testimonies.
I have seen a limit to all perfection,
but your commandment is exceedingly broad. (Psa 119:89-96)
God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Firm faith in his firmly fixed word leads to a firm heart.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. (Psa 112:6-7)
If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all, and great will be your fall. But if you are firm in faith, the rains may fall, the floods may rise, and the tempests may blow, but you will not crumble, because you’ve been founded on the rock.
Firm faith in firmly fixed words produces a firm heart that is anchored to a firmly steadfast God.