Monday, December 06, 2010

The Promise of His Coming (6)

It's a time of national terror. The political hotbed of the near east is astir, and the residents of the promised land are frightened as their enemies gather to confront them. It sounds very modern, and yet it's actually the state of affairs in Isaiah's time.

By now, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah have separated, and David's descendant, Ahaz is on the throne in Judah. On the horizon, storm clouds are gather, as Israel and Syria prepare for war. Ahaz and all the people have shaking hearts in fear of what is to come.

The LORD sends Isaiah to declare that they have nothing to fear, because both nations will be destroyed in the not too distant future - Israel and Syria will be consumed by the Assyrian threat, and lowly Judah will remain in the face of that threat too.

As if this great promise isn't enough, though, the LORD asks Ahaz to ask him for a sign to show that it will happen. Ahaz tries to come across as too righteous to do such a thing, so the LORD gives him a sign anyway.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Once again, we're on the two horizons of prophecy - there probably was a child born to a young woman and named Immanuel during the reign of Ahaz, and the lands of Syria and Israel would be deserted by the time he was grown up.

But on the longer timescale, Ahaz receives this prophecy of another young woman - a virgin - who would conceive and bear a son. He can truly be called Immanuel - God with us - not just as a sign to the people that God was not forgetting them in the midst of those political threats; but as a living, walking, talking, breathing sign - God is with us in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Alanis Morisette once sang 'What if God were one of us?' When we look at Jesus, we see the answer. Immanuel, God is with us.

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