Have you ever been around someone that has a tendency to go from A to Z faster than a bobcat on an energy drink? You know what I mean. Said person gets stuck in traffic. They then play out the entire litany of consequences that will come from their impending tardiness. In their mind they are about to get fired. Then they will not be able to pay their bills so they will lose their house. The next thing you know the guy is talking about how he will be homeless and eating raw onions out of someone’s garbage can.
A similar thing happened to Ahaz in Isaiah 7. He was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim” and so his heart and the heart of the people “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind”. He panicked. He went from A to Z at this news. In his mind the kingdom was undone. In his mind the nation was only moments from being destroyed. Never mind the promises that God has made. “You don’t understand, man, Syria plus Ephraim equals absolute disaster”.
This is why the Lord said to him, “be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” I also like how the HCSB phrases it, “Calm down and be quiet. Don’t be afraid or cowardly”. Ahaz was being called to faith in God instead of fear. God gave him a promise that their plans are not going to succeed. He then calls him to trust saying, “If you are not firm in faith you will not be firm at all”.
Balm for Noisy Hearts
When our hearts are noisy, fearful, and depressed like Ahaz it is a sign that we are not trusting in the Lord. A to Z thinking comes from a faulty foundation and a lack of trust. When we fail to trust the Lord everything becomes unstable. We lose our anchor.
In the midst of his fear the Lord graciously gave Ahaz a sign: “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God is with us”. Though fulfilled in Ahaz’s day this promise pointed to an even greater Immanuel. God would literally take upon flesh and be with us. It is to this Immanuel that we place our trust. We rest in this Immanuel as God’s provision and presence.
Are you fearful and depressed? Is your heart noisy? That is a warning sign that your heart has lost its focus on Immanuel. Your instability is evidence that your faith has lost its firmness. You’re believing a different story than the one told by Yahweh.
Yes, Ephraim and Syria are scary. Yes, it seems as if everything is about to go down the tubes and you’re only one bad decision away from eating raw onions out of a garbage can. But in the midst of this we are being called to believe in the God that raises the dead and turns hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He is powerful and can even use our onion-eating moments into joy.
Only in His promise do we find stability.