“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). “ (Isaiah 7:14)
I love that the name Immanuel means “God is with us.” What a perfect name for Jesus. He came into the dark world he loved so much to be with us, to be one of us. Knowing Jesus is with us gives us hope for tomorrow and makes the world a little brighter.
It’s interesting to know the back story of this prophecy from Isaiah. Right before this, Isaiah had been speaking with King Ahaz. You may recall Ahaz was one of those wicked kings that did detestable things. (2 Kings 16) It was during his 16-year reign that Ahaz feared a takeover by Israel and it’s ally, Assyria. God’s message through Isaiah had been that no invasion would take place.
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
What do you think Isaiah thought when he gave us this message? Did he know it was a Messianic prophecy? Did he have any inkling that this child would be so famous? Of course, any child being called Mighty God had to be pretty special!
At Christmas we remember the precious child, God’s own son, born just for us. God loves us that much! Make sure you stop a couple of times today to marvel at how God’s majesty was laying in a manger bed. How humbling!
Our Advent preparations are heading into the home stretch. It’s time to take a deep breath and prepare for the final frantic moments yet to come. Why do we try to pack so much into such a short period of time? There’s traveling, cookie baking, card sending, concert attending, rehearsing, decorating, wrapping gifts, carol singing–I’ve got to be forgetting something! Yes — hoping in Christ!
Isaiah’s prophecy speaks loudly to us as well. We can surely identify with living in a “time of darkness and despair,” too. Anytime God is absent from a conversation or a decision or an event, the potential for darkness exists. Isaiah’s message brings hope to those living in darkness when he says, “will not go on forever.”
Jesus has died. His body has been carefully laid in Joseph’s new tomb. The women know where that is, and they hurry now to prepare the burial spices. But it’s too late now since the Sabbath is about to begin. They are going to have to wait. I can just imagine how hard it was for them to wait. Even a few hours would make a big difference in the decay of a corpse. Still, their tradition would have them wait.
They didn’t know to be waiting for the resurrection. We have that knowledge, and yet we are still in a waiting pattern, aren’t we? Our wait to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning is only a short wait. But the wait we have for Jesus’ promised return is much longer. How long, we have no idea. We just need to patiently wait with faithful expectation.
Our final readings for the theme, “Seeking the Kingdom of God” come from both the Old and New Testament. Each are beautiful glimpses into what we’ll see when God’s kingdom is fully revealed. These images should be enough to whet our appetites to not fear that day but look forward to its revelation.
We’re living now in the “in between time” waiting for the big reveal! We’re anxious and we want more! We can only imagine the ultimate splendor God will one day reveal. That’s why Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 ring out to us as a clear reminder of what we need to do while we wait. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”