I've been sitting with these readings for a few days now, and what I keep coming back to is the sheer specificity of God's instructions to Isaiah. Not only does God tell him WHAT to say to Ahaz-
-don't let your courage fail, and -other assorted advice in the face of the mischievous plots against him and Judah
... not only that, but God is so very specific as to WHERE he is to meet him:
-at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller's field
The image that keeps coming to mind is of a map, like the ones on google maps or map quest that so many of us use to find unfamiliar places these days. Or GPS. I can almost imagine Isaiah taking a wrong turn and God having to give him new directions. Kind of like when you are riding in the car with someone and their GPS keeps saying "recalculating" when they take wrong turns.
But Isaiah had to rely on his prophetic visions. He did not have the internet to tell him where to go. He went by faith. When he gave Ahaz God's instructions:
Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!
... we can imagine that he is speaking of that which he knows by personal experience.
In our 21st Century reality, most of us do have the internet. An infinite number of answers--never mind if many of them are wrong--lies at our fingertips. Those of us with smart phones have the answers in our pockets. This can become so tempting, such as when a question comes up during dinner table conversation and the answer is up for debate. Enter the smart phone user and their trusty search engine.
But Isaiah didn't have a search engine, he had his experience of and faith in God. The people living in the cities Jesus mentions in today's Gospel--Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum--didn't have search engines either. Instead, they had Jesus, present doing mighty deeds in their midst. But this apparently wasn't even enough for them to believe.
If the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have long ago repented in sack cloth and ashes.Can't you just hear the annoyance in the words the Gospel writer attributes to Jesus? Exacerbated. Raising up his hands. "What more can I do?"
We don't all have the clear prophetic visions if Isaiah. Life is murkier most of the time. It can be hard to see the work of God in our midst and name it as such. Yet God is present, just as Jesus is present in our Gospel story.
It can be hard to keep the faith. Yet that it seems is the message today. Even when we take wrong turns in life, we are called to trust. To wait for that next "recalculating" moment, so that we can take the next step towards God.