Sunday, December 8, 2019

Isaiah 7.10-16: Ask for a Sign

"Ask for a sign," Isaiah invites Ahaz. But Ahaz won't ask. (Isaiah 7:10-16) Maybe he didn't ask because he was afraid of what the sign would be. The sign-giver in the text is God, speaking through the prophet. The sign is meant to communicate the future of Ahaz' rule.

Sign painters in decades and centuries past didn't necessarily consider themselves artists, but they were definitely communicators on a giant scale. There work was as small as a card in a window and as large as the side of a building or the roof of a barn. The job was to make information as understandable as possible through size of letters, placements of words, and use of color. The information had to be comprehensible even from a moving car and persuasive. The point of the sign was to influence the viewer: to draw them into a shop or bring them to a tourist attraction or to sway them to try a product. The message had to be unmistakable.
 (Left) Uneeda Biscuit advertising mural on the side of the Union Hotel in Meridian, MS. 
(Right) "See Rock City" barn roof gets a new coat of paint. 
God gave the same kind of sign to Ahaz, even when Ahaz didn't want one. God's sign was a young woman who would have a child. The child would eventually replace Ahaz on the throne. God wrote it big. So big that we don't hear from Ahaz again in scripture until Isaiah 14:28 in an oracle dated the same year as Ahaz' death.

For additional information on the (almost) lost art of hand-painting signs, see The Pre-Vinylite Society, Brain Pickings, Craftsmanship Magazine, or the film.

For thoughts on Matthew 1:18-25, click here.

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