listening to God & persistent asking: don’t under-interpret the Bible

shoot from stump

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as the underworld or high as the sky.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, I will not put the Lord to the test.” And 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, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

{ ויוסף יהוה דבר אל־אחז לאמר׃
שאל־לך אות מעם יהוה אלהיך העמק שאלה או הגבה למעלה׃
ויאמר אחז לא־אשאל ולא־אנסה את־יהוה׃
ויאמר שמעו־נא בית דוד המעט מכם הלאות אנשים כי תלאו גם את־אלהי׃
לכן יתן אדני הוא לכם אות הנה העלמה הרה וילדת בן וקראת שמו עמנו אל׃ }

How does a person weary God? Ask and it shall be given to you.

The prophet Isaiah, not Ahaz, declares “Hear then, O house of David! ….” The prophet Isaiah addresses Ahaz, the ruler of the Judah in the line of the house of David. Ahaz is wearying God not by nagging God, but by not asking God for help. Ahaz is putting God to the test by testing God’s patience with them — his people who don’t understand their relationship to him. They don’t seek the Lord. They don’t cry out to God. They don’t expect the Lord to come to their aid.

The Lord commanded his people not to put him to the test. The Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign. Moses, following the Lord’s instructions, brought water forth from a rock at Massah and Meribah. Anything is possible with God. Is this generation asking for a sign to test God? A sign has been given to them.

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?”

{ ελεγεν δε παραβολην αυτοις προς το δειν παντοτε προσευχεσθαι αυτους και μη εγκακειν λεγων κριτης τις ην εν τινι πολει τον θεον μη φοβουμενος και ανθρωπον μη εντρεπομενος χηρα δε ην εν τη πολει εκεινη και ηρχετο προς αυτον λεγουσα εκδικησον με απο του αντιδικου μου και ουκ ηθελεν επι χρονον μετα δε ταυτα ειπεν εν εαυτω ει και τον θεον ου φοβουμαι ουδε ανθρωπον εντρεπομαι δια γε το παρεχειν μοι κοπον την χηραν ταυτην εκδικησω αυτην ινα μη εις τελος ερχομενη υπωπιαζη με ειπεν δε ο κυριος ακουσατε τι ο κριτης της αδικιας λεγει ο δε θεος ου μη ποιηση την εκδικησιν των εκλεκτων αυτου των βοωντων αυτω ημερας και νυκτος και μακροθυμει επ’ αυτοις }

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Notes:

The two quoted passages are from Isaiah 7:10-14 and Luke 18:1-7. See also Malachi 3:10, Matthew 7:7, Psalms 18:6, 34:4, 40:1, 118:5, 120:1, Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:5-7, Exodus 17:1-7, Matthew 19:26, Mark 8:11-12, and Isaiah 11:1.

[image] Shoot springing forth from a stump. Source image thanks to Zumthie via Wikimedia Commons.

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