Immanuel means “God with us.” It’s one of the names we use for Jesus, especially at this time of year. Just let that little nugget resonate with you for a moment. In just a few short days we’ll be celebrating the birth of Jesus, our Immanuel. Because of Jesus, we have God with us. Do you believe that?
This prophecy from God through Isaiah may have a double fulfillment. We are most familiar with Matthew’s quoting the portion that refers to Jesus’ mother. “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” From our perspective, Jesus fulfills this without question.
If we were studying Isaiah and his messages to the kings in more depth, we would understand the dynamics here of the fear a “bad” king of Judah (Ahaz) has because of threats made by two other kings. Clearly, there must be a child born in their context as well. By the time that child can eat solid food and speak, roughly three years counting the time in the womb, those two troublemaker kings will be dead. That’s a whole separate story line in the history of God’s people.
It’s powerful when God uses his word for multiple applications. That’s what it means to me to say God’s word is alive and active. New messages can be revealed to us each time we read it. Its beauty is indescribable. What other ways would you describe God’s word and how it affects your life?
Certainly, having a Bible close is like having God right there beside us. I imagine God speaking directly to me each day. When we open up the words of Scripture, we can be whisked away into all sorts of adventures along our faith journey.
Today’s reading makes me a bit curious if there was something that happened in Jesus’ childhood similar. What happened when Jesus was just a toddler? Were two menacing kings killed or some other fear relieved? Or perhaps there’s a reason Matthew quotes only the one verse.
I did wonder about Ahaz’s statement about not wanting to test the LORD. Certainly, we don’t want to do that either. But in this case, God had asked him to do so. Ahaz’s refusal then becomes almost a lame excuse, avoidance, or straight up disobedience. Have you ever found yourself giving excuses to God for not spending time with him or following his leading?
One verse before our passage, God says, “If you want me to protect you, learn to believe what I say.” While those are exasperated words to the evil king, Ahaz, I think they speak volumes to us today. Can we do a better job of trusting God and believing what he has said to us in his word? Maybe he has even given us a personal message in some other way. Do we believe him?
What a name! Immanuel. God with us. Ponder that amazing benefit we have as believers. God is with us. We are not alone. How are you nurturing your relationship with him? No excuses!
Let’s pray. Father God, strengthen my faith today. Forgive me for not always relying on you and your strength. Fill me with a new passion to seek you, learn from your truth, and be fearless to stand up for you and to promote you to the world. Speak through me so that others will hear and be moved to follow you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.