Promising God

Isaiah 7:3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out, you… to meet Ahaz….” (Isaiah said to Ahaz:) 11 “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”

The text takes place around 700 years BC and during the time of Isaiah and Ahaz. If we simply read this one verse (“But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”) then we might think that Ahaz was a godly man who would not put God to the test.

Deuteronomy says, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test…” Jesus repeated that in Matthew 4.

However Ahaz was not a godly man. He sacrificed to the false gods Balaam and Moloch. Instead of looking to God for aid, he secured the alliance of the king of Assyria. His conduct proved that he didn’t care what Isaiah said and he felt that if his aid from Assyria was not obtained, his kingdom would be destroyed. He had no belief in God, and no confidence in the prophet. Nevertheless he said the right thing.

There are people who say the right thing, but do not mean it. And there are people who say the right thing for the wrong reason. Recall the High Priest at the trial of Jesus. He said, “It is expedient for one man to die for the people.” He meant this would stop a riot which would have incurred the intervention of the Roman garrison. However God meant it to be the very Gospel itself. “For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, no longer counting sins against us.” Since the wages of sin is death — and Jesus paid that price, then justice was met and the world could be reconciled.

In the area of the Gospel many people will say we are saved by grace through faith. That sounds good until they add their “buts” ( their add-ons). “But we must still…..” I will spare you the many answers some denominations give. We can call these add-ons “Eveism.” (What in the world is an Eveism? Remember God had said “don’t eat of the tree…” Eve said, “God said do not eat of the tree nor touch it.” Thus adding onto the Word of God.)

Then there are those who say they are Christians- like the Mormons and the JW’s but their Jesus is not the one Trinitarian Christians believe in.

Then there are you and me who say the right things, but either don’t always mean what we say, or say them without thinking, or change our minds. Some of the vows we make are not always kept. The sponsors’ vow at baptism, the vow we make at confirmation, the promise we made when we join a congregation, and the vows we make at our wedding.

Baptism: we vow to see that the child is raised as a Christian, and according to the teachings of this church. I believe most people enjoy the honor of being asked, but don’t do much follow up — myself included.

Confirmation: “I promise to suffer all, even death, rather than to fall away from Christ and this church.” Judging by the number who do not stay with the church — or any church, for matter, did something worse than death caused them to quit?

Joining a congregation: In my day the vow included the promise to attend faithfully, commune regularly, and share generously of time, talents, and treasures. Some people mean it and some don’t.

Marriage: To love, honor, and cherish. That vow is normally well intact for the first week, if not month — but we either forget or just plain don’t take it seriously, especially the “cherish” part.

Then there is Ecclesiastes. “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.”

The word “fool” is not a harmless word. “The fool says in his heart, there is no god.” Jesus says, “Everyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

So you vow makers and vow breakers! There would be a whole lot of trouble for us if Isaiah had not also said, and if had not come true…. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel.” This we know is the Gospel, that the Virgin Mary conceived a Son whose Name was Jesus, who lived a perfect life and took our sins to the cross and paid for them in full. Again, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, no longer counting sins against us.” So what more can we say than “Thanks be to God.” Amen!

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