Betsy Schwarzentraub is a consultant in stewardship and generosity and author of Afire with God: Becoming Spirited Stewards, living in Garden Valley, California.
Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.
In 2013 you can not only read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.
Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.
Read Isaiah 7:10-16
This time of year, many of us find our mailboxes besieged with manger-scene Christmas cards depicting Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Now don’t get me wrong: I am not against the baby Jesus. It is the sentimentalized image of a sweet babe removed from reality, surrounded by cooing doves and little lambs that can lead us astray.
What God has promised—and delivered—is Jesus, a real human baby who grew up into a strong, passionate, vulnerable human being. Jesus reveals the personhood of God. He is God incarnate, in human flesh, the One who ultimately fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy and whose life, ministry, death, and resurrection have reoriented human history.
Isaiah 7 does not focus on a sweet, little baby. King Ahaz teeters on the brink of a disastrous military alliance for his people’s security. But the prophet tells him and his top counselors that such an alliance will fail. Their security rests elsewhere: in complete confidence in God’s trustworthiness.
Isaiah challenges the king to ask God for a sign, but Ahaz is afraid to ask. So Isaiah declares God’s sign anyway. A certain young woman whom they both know is pregnant. By the time her son is old enough to know basic right from wrong, the two nations whom Ahaz now dreads will be deserted. And that little boy will experience a day when once-proud city dwellers will be in such crisis that they will be thankful for the basic food of their wilderness ancestors.
Our only true security is in our relationship with God. Isaiah’s message is about what the soon-to-be-born baby will point to: the importance of trusting only, ultimately, in God alone.
Faithful God, help us to trust you with all that we are, finding our only security in you. This we pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.