"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
The familiar words in our focus verse today were first a prophecy to Ahaz. This king of Judah apparently didn't have a strong faith in God because when Syria and Israel came to fight him, he was terrified ("his heart and the heart of his people moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind." vs 2).
God told Isaiah to bring him a message of hope: that the Israeli-Syrian initiative would fail. "Ask a sign for yourself to prove this is so," Isaiah invited the king.
"Oh, I couldn't test God that way!" Ahaz replied.
That's when Isaiah spoke the promise of the virgin bearing a son, named Immanuel. My Bible's footnote explains how this would have sounded, and perhaps played out, to the people at that time:
"A son to Isaiah's readers would have been an unidentified heir from Ahaz's house, perhaps his son Hezekiah. Immanuel (God-with-us) was the title given to assure God's participation in bringing about deliverance from the Syrian and Israelite coalition." - Nathaniel M. Van Cleave, commentary on Isaiah..." New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 882.
Of course we are familiar with the messianic fulfillment of this prophecy through Mary and Joseph: "...messianically it [Immanuel] became a key name marking Christ's incarnation" - Van Cleave, op. cit). The words of Isaiah 7 are the words the angel quoted to Joseph in his dream when he was told to take pregnant Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:23).
Let's concentrate for a minute on what a grand and incredible thing "Immanuel" represents. This name signifies that Jesus—the One by whom all things were created (Colossians 1:15-17), who is before all things and in whom all things consist, became flesh, a human person (John 1:1-3,14). He "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:5-7). More than that, He comes even closer, living in us by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Let's let the grandeur of this soak in. God, who made us, lowered Himself to live with us, even in us. May this inspire our faith, thanksgiving, praise and worship today!
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your amazing plan which included the obedient teenager Mary to mother Jesus in a human body. May I let You be Immanuel to me. Amen.
Part of today's reading, Isaiah 7:14, appears in Handel's Messiah as a short alto solo that comes just before the chorus "O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings to Zion." Here it is sung by Allison Browner in a 1991 performance in Dublin, Ireland.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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