This morning I was studying Isaiah 7, reading about the prophet asking the unbelieving king to find faith and if he lacked faith that God was willing to give him a miraculous sign. For years I have listened to message that I must pull myself up by my own boot straps, that it all depended upon me for success. If I failed, it would be because I did not try hard enough, I did not work enough, that I was a failure. Indeed, I should work hard. Certainly, I should not give a half effort. Surely, I must try, try again. However, I heard the ancient prophet say to Ahaz, and also whisper to me, "If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’” As someone else paraphrased it, "Trust or bust." Ahaz was thinking that he was a clever politician, that he knew what to do. His solution to threats from his northern neighbors was to seek refuge in one of the superpowers of the day. He did not trust so in the end, he was busted. The kingdom was not ripped from his family, but the family and kingdom were ripped from their land. His heirs would be sojourners to the east. His progeny would serve as appointed governors at a foreign king's pleasure. While there were other contributing factors, a lack of faith on Ahaz' part brought the nation of Judah one step closer to exile.
I often find myself lacking faith. I often find myself seeking to solve my problems through my own human effort. God used the words in Isaiah 6 to call me to his service, "Here am I, send me." I do trust his call, not necessarily in my ability to good enough for his call. I, like the prophet, need cleansing from the Lord. Being cleansed, I am ready to serve at his pleasure, whether great or small. Seeing how Isaiah receives his call, he is told that his message would not be believed. That is exactly what happens in Isaiah 7. Ahaz remains in unbelief. The prophet's message of faith was rejected. Chapter seven follows on the heels of chapter six.