You need to know a little about Ahaz. He is considered the worst king of the kings of Israel. He built pagan altars, turned people away from Jewish practices, and desecrated the temple.
When he says he will not tempt the Lord, this is really a form of false piety. It sounds good, but it is not genuine. Isaiah is frustrated with Ahaz, God is frustrated with Ahaz, and we receive the prophecy we all know: “. . . the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” Emmanuel meaning God with us.
But didn’t the angel tell Joseph to name the boy Jesus? What is it then, Emmanuel or Jesus. Knowing a little helps a lot.
Although we see this passage of Isaiah as a prophecy of the coming of the Christ child, not all agree. Many Protestant scholars point out the difference in names so this cannot be a true prophecy. Isaiah was prophesying about another boy to be born, a son of Ahaz’ will marry and a son named Hezekiah, the good king compared to his father.
That is probably true, and we can say it is true, because it did happen. That does not take away from the prophecy. There is one thing to remember about prophecies. They are always true. They are not bound by time. They are fulfilled. In this case, the virgin we know as Mary, bearing the Christ child, in which Mary remains a virgin before, during, and after which fulfills the prophecy completely. Ahaz had an opportunity to let God enter his life, but he refused. Instead, he makes a lame excuse for not letting God enter his life.
The story of Joseph is very much a story today. Mary is betrothed to Joseph, but a pregnancy happens. How is Joseph to handle this. Being a righteous man, he decides to divorce her quietly. The alternative is that Mary could be stoned to death.
You can only imagine the anxiety Joseph is facing. And being righteous indicates that he is also a man of prayer. He turns to God and God responds. Not in the way you think, but in the way God does. Through the whisper of an angel.
We are told all of us dream. Many can remember every dream, some cannot remember any. But do you listen to your dreams. Joseph hears the voice of God through the angel in his dream. Joseph allows God to enter his life. Joseph could have used the pregnancy as an excuse. He could have used the excuse that he did not remember the dream. He could have used the excuse that Mary was not faithful. Ahaz used excuses and God did not enter Ahaz. Joseph accepted God’s plan and was faithful.
We are very good today at making excuses. No one wants trouble. No one wants to be blamed. So, to avoid being responsible and accountable we make excuses. We might even make excuses for our sins. Or make excuses for others.
When we do not accept the responsibility that is ours, we then excuse others who should be held responsible. Excuses prevent God from entering our hearts and souls.
We frustrate God with excuses. He who knows all and sees all is not impressed with excuses and false piety. How many times has God whispered to you in a dream through an angel and we chose not to listen? Be like Joseph, a righteous person.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and if the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen