I hate goals.
I’ve never been much of a goal-setter because I can’t stand not to reach them. Why not work hard and get as far as is physically, mentally, emotionally possible? That was my singular, life goal.
And then I became a writer, and there are these ugly things called deadlines. They’re like goals only worse. Ugh.
I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern.
The deadlines I’m given by editors, marketing staff, even my agent are FAR more realistic than the deadlines I set for myself. Why is that? I’ve been trying to finish a book proposal and submit to my agent for three months. I’ve crossed three self-imposed dead-lines. Yes, DEAD-lines. They’re dead. Gone.
What does this have to do with Isaiah?
While researching my current book proposal, I’ve learned a lot about Scripture’s most prolific Messianic prophet. Today, we read Isaiah’s prophecies as profound and definitive proof of the long-awaited Christ-child:
“Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).
But when Isaiah spoke that prophecy to King Ahaz in 730BC, that sign was intended to prove that Assyria would annihilate Samaria—the northern Kingdom of Israel, called Ephraim in many of his prophecies—within 65 years.
“Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people” (Isa. 7:8).
History tells us Samaria was besieged and conquered in 722BC—only about eight years after Isaiah’s prophecy. And Ahaz never found a little Immanuel, son of a young virgin, running around Jerusalem.
Isaiah also told Ahaz in 730BC:
[Because Judah rejected Yahweh] “…the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of…the king of Assyria…It will overflow all its channels…and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck” (Isa. 8:7-8).
As far as Ahaz was concerned, Assyria was the best “big brother” in the world. They conquered the two nations that had been harassing Judah and introduced pagan pleasures to the idolatrous king. Ahaz died in 715BC—believing Isaiah…and Yahweh…missed their deadline.
However, fourteen years after Ahaz’s son Hezekiah became king, Assyria flooded into Judah, capturing every fortified city of Judah except Jerusalem—swirling up to the neck. Ahaz didn’t witness God’s fulfillment of the promise, but the promise was fulfilled.
Isaiah had sealed up his prophecies during Ahaz’s pagan reign, waiting for the one who would save Judah. Did he believe Hezekiah to be the prophesied savior-king?
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isa. 9:6-7).
How disappointed he must have been when Hezekiah died without fulfilling the prophecy. Another deadline missed. Another human failure. Or was it God who failed?
Was Isaiah wrong? Did God lie?
No. And NO!
Remember my missed deadlines?
When I try to set deadlines for myself, I create unrealistic expectations and therefore set unreachable goals.
But when I allow those who KNOW the writing process as a whole—editors, agent, marketing staff—to set those deadlines and make the plans, the goals are reachable and promises are kept.
- God keeps His promises. We may not see it in our lifetime, but God lives outside of time and sees beyond our deadlines.
- Isaiah wasn’t wrong, and I need to get back to my proposal…
- Does it seem as if God has let you down? Is there a promise that it seems He hasn’t kept? How might His deadline be different than yours?
- What unrealistic expectations are you placing on yourself? Is there someone you could ask to help you with more realistic goals?