2nd Sunday of Advent: Immanuel and Our Unbelief

“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.” Then 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.” Isa. 7:11-14 

     Heavenly Father, the Scriptures we typically read during Advent underscore how little of your goodness we actually “get.” Your mercies are beyond measure, your grace is beyond grasping, and your love is beyond imagining. 

     The Advent promise of “Immanuel” is a perfect example of your mind-blowing, heart-humbling generosity. You promised to send Jesus, the Messiah, in full view of your people’s unfaithfulness, unbelief, and unrighteousness. After all, grace is for sinners. 

   King Ahaz, to whom Isaiah delivered these words, remained addicted to his illusion of control and self-sufficiency. We have much in common with him. That’s why the promise of Immanuel is so precious to us. Though we want to be our own deliverer, we are woefully inadequate. We need Jesus, and everything Jesus is and has accomplished for us. 

     Indeed, Father, in the gospel, you’ve proven yourself to be a God who is not only with us, but a God who is so very much for us. Your love for us isn’t merely unconditional; it’s contra-conditional. In the Gospel, you met every condition necessary to make us your beloved children and eternal delight.       

     Father, unlike Ahaz, we don’t have the Assyrian army outside our door threatening our existence. But we do have many challenges during Advent 2019. As we trust you for our forgiveness and righteousness, so we intend to rely on you for everything we need to live and love to your glory. 

     May we boast in our weakness, delight in Jesus and rely upon you—the God who does the impossible. Thank you for your patience and kindness. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ near and grace-full name.