Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:  “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and 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, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:10–14, ESV).
Recently my son showed me the book on the 9/11 tragedy that he borrowed from the library. That watershed day stands out in vivid detail in my memory, but he wasn’t alive then, and the culture after that day in America is all he’s known. We talked about surprise attacks from enemies; why people planned to cause so many deaths, and whether that could happen again. It was a day of great fear, and it still tempts us to fear.
Has anything caused you fear this year? Fear is a crucial tool God uses to reveal in us where we place our confidence: in God or in our own resources.
King Ahaz faced the threat of two kingdoms uniting against Judah and camping outside the city of Jerusalem waiting to attack. Ahaz’s solution was to send a bunch of gold to the king of Assyria in a cry for help. Ahaz trusted in his own resources during a time of great fear.
God’s mercy is so vast. Even after Ahaz had betrayed the Lord that way, God still gave him a chance to repent and believe! That’s why God offered Ahaz a sign. But, since Ahaz had already declared his god to be gold, he refused to ask God for a sign. That’s when God introduced the biggest sign of all: Immanuel.
It’s a name, and it means “God with us.” But it’s so much more than a name: it’s a Person. Specifically it’s a prophecy that was ultimately and fully accomplished in and by Jesus Christ. The foundation of our hope is the God Man Jesus Christ. Our hope is not that something bad won’t happen. It’s not that something good will come. Our hope is God with us, Jesus Christ.
My son spoke such an encouraging truth about 9/11 and the threat of war. After we talked he concluded with this: “Buildings will fall down, but heaven is forever.” Amen. That’s true. Fear reveals where we place our confidence. It can’t be in things of this world, but in the One who entered this world.
The Lord gave Immanuel, God with us, as the sure and final word of promise. Lean into Jesus, fully trusting Him to keep you through whatever comes. As the prophet Isaiah said about the Lord,
 You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)