Encouragement for your daily walk with God
At Christmas, more than any other time, we talk and sing about the name Immanuel. Long before the first Christmas, about 700 years, the name Immanuel appeared for the first time as part of a prophetic word from Isaiah to King Ahaz of Judah. It was during the time when Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Syria had formed a coalition to stand against Assyria. Isaiah warned the King not to join the coalition. He counseled him that regardless of what they thought, they would not succeed.
The coalition was indignant that Judah would not join the uprising and threatened Judah with an invasion. Ahaz thought it would be wise to appeal to Assyria for help against Israel and Syria, but again, Isaiah urged him not to do it. Rather, he insisted that the King trust in the Lord for help. He even invited the King to ask for a sign to confirm the prophetic word. Unfortunately, Ahaz refused because he had already decided to join with Assyria for their national security.
It was then that Isaiah made the now famous proclamation: “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 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 7.13-14].
As you may well imagine, in just a short time, Syria and Israel were soundly defeated, just as Isaiah said they would be. And in just over 100 years, Judah would succumb to mighty Babylon, with many of its people taken captive.
It was Matthew who recalled the prophetic words of Isaiah, applying it to the child born of Mary. She was the “virgin” betrothed to Joseph. The sign given to a rebellious king hundreds of years earlier, now was a sign meant for all of God’s people - God with us.
The Bible is the story of God’s persistence to dwell with His people. Immanuel - God with us - to rescue, redeem, and restore our fellowship with Him. That is the Christmas story.
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1.22-23