Geopolitics was not invented last week. The making and breaking of international alliances were as much a part of the 8th century B.C. as the 21st century A.D.
King Ahaz of Judah vacillated between political ties with Assyria, Israel and Syria. He feared that Jerusalem would be invaded and he would be deposed. Isaiah told Ahaz to trust in God. Ahaz thought it wiser to trust in an alliance with mighty Assyria.
God gave Ahaz a second chance to obey, but Ahaz was unwilling to relinquish his own plan.
The Lord decided to act: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, a young woman is with child and will bear a son, and shall call him Immanuel [God is with us]” (Isaiah 7:14).
Human leaders are bound to disappoint. Human plans fail. Ahaz trusted in himself, and he and his people suffered the consequences of his willfulness.
God has purposes and plans too. God’s plans take time to unfold, sometimes generations. Isaiah believed that God would send an ideal leader, a Messiah, who would save the people. He longed for some sign, however small and fragile, that God was about to fulfill this promise. The promise of Immanuel gave hope to Isaiah and his people.
In Advent we remember the promise that God will come to be with us. We are not alone in a world of geopolitics. God is present. Over the weeks of Advent, may this promise grow within us and birth in us a hope that does not disappoint.