Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Advent - Isaiah

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)."

Isaiah.  A prophet and preacher to the people of Israel.  Sent to share God's word.  66 chapters.  And in the middle of all of this we find this short, simple verse.  The virgin will conceive.  She will have a son.  He will be called God with us.

Back in Isaiah's time the term "God with us" was, I'm sure, somewhat of a strange concept.  In the Old Testament times, a person had to go through the priest to get to God.  There were sacrifices to be made.  Not that God wasn't with His people.  He was.  But to have a personal relationship with Him?

So here in the middle of a conversation with Ahaz, Isaiah tells him to ask for a sign.  Ahaz refuses.  But God's plan will be done.  So God, through Isaiah, gives him a sign anyway.  "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

Can you imagine being Isaiah?  He was a prophet of God sent to reveal God to the people.  It seems he was always looking over his shoulder for the next person who would come after him.  His messages weren't always, if ever, popular.  But he was faithful to God.  And God chooses to entrust him with one of the most vital prophecies concerning Christ's birth.

A virgin would conceive.  In a world today full of in vitro, surrogates and test tube babies, technically a virgin could conceive.  However, let your mind drift back to Isaiah's time.  For a virgin to conceive would truly be a miracle.  And would be one of the distinguishing factors that set Jesus' birth apart from other babies born in His time.  It is what allowed Jesus to be completely human yet completely holy.

He will be called "God with us." Isaiah was telling us that there would be a way to God, a way to a personal relationship with God.  No more going through a priest.  Jesus would become that high priest and our entrance to God.  No more sacrificial lambs.  Jesus would become the ultimate and final sacrificial Lamb.

Can you imagine being Isaiah?  Can you imagine being entrusted with the good news that a Savior was on the way?  The people of Israel had struggled for so long.  They had been subject to slavery and rulers and rules.  Now there was Hope.  Hope for freedom.  Hope for peace.  Hope for true salvation.  And Isaiah was the one who was chosen to be the first to share this promise.

And this promise has been fulfilled.  Many years after Isaiah spoke these words, God IS with us!  Jesus was born and everything changed.  We can now come into God's presence at any time, in any place and speak with Him.  We don't have to offer burnt offerings and sacrifices anymore.  Jesus' sacrifice covers us and makes us whole.   And we have Hope!  Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  The people of Isaiah's time looked forward in faith for that hope.  We look back in faith for that hope.

And hope is here!  Hope of a new life.  Hope of love.  Hope that in God's time all things will work out for our good.  Hope that we are loved beyond what we could ever imagine.

One short verse held so much promise.  So much hope.  So much love.  May we, like Isaiah, share that hope and love this Christmas!

1 comment:

Dirk Cushenbery said...

Good message for times like these, well for any time really. Thanks!