WORD STUDY – THE AGREEMENT
Isaiah 7:11-12: “Ask thee a sign of the Lord, thy God, ask it either in the depth or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask neither will I tempt the Lord.”
Luke 12:24: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
I believe we all, at one time or another, asked God for a sign. Odds are we probably won’t get one. But then sometimes we do. So it sure does not hurt to ask for a sign just don’t be too disappointed if one doesn’t come.
Signs from God are for me are like a Big Mac. At my age I need to avoid such foods, but every once in while, maybe once or twice a year I will throw caution to the wind and indulge in a Big Mac. When I do that I have never tasted anything so wonderful and I enjoy every bite. But if I made Big Macs a regular part of my diet, well you know it would eventually lose its specialness. Besides that it would be very unhealthy. So it is with signs from God. If God gave us a sign every time we asked for one they would lose their specialness and too many signs from God would be unhealthy, that is we would come to depend more upon the signs that our faith and the just shall live by faith so says Habakkuk 2:4. But more than that we find Ahaz refused a sign because he knew full well that with a sign from God came responsibility and he really did not want that responsibility.
Most of us, I believe, can point to various times in our lives, however when we got a sign from God. At least what we figured was a sign. I mean what is a sign from God anyways?
The word used for sign in the Hebrew in Isaiah 7:11 is ’oth which means a signal, a mark, or a pledge. A pledge is proof that you will carry out a promise. That is why we put our hand over our hearts when we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge is not our allegiance, that is our promise, the pledge is holding our hand over our hearts which is a token showing that we really mean what we say because we are saying it with our hearts. So when you ask God for a sign you are really asking that He give you a token to ensure that He will keep His promise. Far too often when we ask God for a sign we are asking because we are not really sure we what His promise is so we ask for a sign to confirm that what we think is His promise is really His promise.
For instance I may ask the Lord, “Should I go and punch that last reviewer of my book in the nose?” I am not asking for a sign in the Biblical sense, I am only asking for confirmation and that can be found in His Word, you know turn the other cheek, love your enemies and all that stuff I already know but would be hoping for some sort of waiver.
But you know there are times when the going get so tough it is hard to keep our eyes on God and we need something tangible that we can look at on occasions when are faith starts running low. For instance, today on my disability bus I took a woman to the cancer clinic. She had been fighting cancer for over eight years. When I came to pick her up for her return she jumped on the bus all excited. She said her doctor declared her to be cancer free. I asked her if she thanked God and she said: “You bet I did.” Then she told me her story. At the age of fourteen she was forced to marry a 49 year old man who abused her so bad that she eventually ran away with her three small children. She came to Chicago where she lived on the streets, homeless, with her three small children. She did her best to keep her children feed and clean. But you can imagine how hard it was. One day she cried out to God. She only knew there might be a power out there and had heard mention of God and Jesus and so she called out to Him.
Later that day a woman came up to her and commented how she noticed her every day with her children and how she took care of them. Then she asked if she had a home. She was embarrassed and lied and said she did. The woman ignored her answer and said she had an extra apartment that was empty and she was welcomed to stay in it for free. She would help her get a job and there was a woman living in the basement who loved children and would care for her children while she worked. She would not need to pay anything until she had an income.
She got a job at Motorola working in the factory. She married again and once again married an abusive alcoholic who beat her and her kids and would bring prostitutes home. She finally left him and after showing the court photos of her face being smashed in she was given a divorce.
There is much more to the story but I want to get to the sign. It was discovered eight years ago that she had lung cancer, although she never smoked. It had advanced to the point that the doctor told her there was little chance she would recover, but as a last resort they would operate, however, the doctor only gave her a few months. She remembered looking out the window and seeing the fall leaves and realizing she would never see those colorful leaves again. She wept and again prayed to God pleading with Him to spare her life for the sake of her children.
Before her surgery her daughter visited her with a plant and found a lady bug on the plant. She said: “Oh, look mommy, a lady bug, I heard they are good luck.” However, she immediately thought, “No, this is a sign from God that I will be better.” That lady bug stayed in her room for her entire stay in the hospital. She even fed it and gave it a name. The day she left the hospital the lady bug flew away. She said: “People say I am crazy when I say God sent the lady bug as a sign that I would get well, but I don’t care, I know it was from God.”
I agreed but I also advised her of the further understanding of the word sign ‘oth. In its Semitic root it has the idea of consenting or agreeing to something. I told her that when she accepted this ‘oth or sign from God she agreed to something. She nodded and said: “It is to use the life He has given me to help others.” I said: “Good!” Now give me permission to tell your story on my blog. After a long pause she agreed.