Today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah is worth a closer look:
“The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said,
‘Ask the Lord your God
for a sign for yourself…
‘No,’ Ahaz answered
‘I will not put the Lord to the test.'”
It is as if Ahaz was anticipating the temptation of Jesus (700 years later) who quotes the Ten Commandments (1000 years before Ahaz) “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Was Ahaz having one of his rare moments of feigning virtue here since on the record King Ahaz was a man of repugnant deeds including killing of his own children and the desecration of the temple. Why his pretence quoting God’s commandments? Maybe he was playing a game, cracking a smile and trying to curry some favour before his subjects?
But the significant point is that God was giving Ahaz an opportunity, a big opportunity. All Ahaz needed to do was to accept God’s generous invitation and ask for a sign for himself. Any sign, any miracle. Anything. But Ahaz refuses.
I think I understand Ahaz’ reasoning.
If Ahaz named a sign for himself and God gave the sign he asked for, how could Ahaz then continue his dysfunctional lifestyle since experience of God is transformative.
Note that Ahaz wasn’t really listening to God. God did not say “put me to the test” but rather “ask for a sign.”
So Ahaz didn’t ask, and didn’t receive, but the writer of Isaiah, now giving up on Ahaz, turns to the people announcing that the ultimate sign will be given:
“The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
I like that since I constantly need signs of the presence and action of Jesus with me, and in my healthiest moments I ask constantly.
When I ask Jesus for a sign I immediately notice a change in me.
While signs of the presence and action of Jesus are real and constant I’m usually oblivious to these. But asking for a sign turns on my radar, focusses my senses, and I become hypersensitive to the presence and action of Jesus.
And then I seek and find Jesus in every person, every circumstance and every thought.
Ask Jesus for a sign, and you will see His signs everywhere.