14Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the virgin is with child and will bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah heard a promise from God that he would give his Son to the world: “The virgin is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
This came at a dark time for the prophet Isaiah and the people of God, as the cruel armies of the Assyrians had swallowed up the surrounding nations and threatened to invade Jerusalem and the land of Judah. King Ahaz was a wicked leader who had led his nation headlong down an idolatrous path away from God. Yet in those dark times God mercifully sent Isaiah to King Ahaz telling him not to be afraid: God was with his people and would deliver them from their enemies.
Then the Lord gave a sign that would guarantee his promise – the sign would be a virgin that would give birth to the Son! And the Son that would be born to her would be called “Immanuel,” which means, “God-with-us.” He would be God with us, God present in our very lives.
It was the Gospel writer Matthew who got to announce the Good News of that Son’s birth: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus is God-with-us!
What a wondrous God he is! He brings forth the Savior from a virgin’s empty womb, and brings forth his people from the most empty of situations! In time, the name Immanuel became a watchword among the people of God. It became a word of hope. No matter how desperate the situation, they could know that God was with them, and for them.
Take the difficult situation that you perhaps find yourself in today: unemployment, divorce, grief, bankruptcy, illness – just know that Jesus is Immanuel, God-with-us in all of life’s circumstances. The promise of Immanuel means that even in such straits God surrounds us with his love and presence.
One night, in the midst of a desert thunderstorm, a little voice was heard from the bedroom across a dark hallway: “Daddy, I’m scared!” The father’s response was quick: “Don’t be afraid honey, daddy and mommy are right here.” There was the briefest pause, and again the cry: “Daddy, I’m scared!” Again the father’s response, “You don’t need to be afraid, because God is watching over you.” The little voice cried back: “I know God is watching over me, but I need someone with skin on!”
Jesus is God with skin on! He has come down to us to be God-with-us. He is loving and strong for us in all the situations we are facing. Jesus promised his disciples as he promises us today: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s reading
and the scripture text, Isaiah 43:1-3:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.