When Christmas rolls around each year, it can be easy to get caught up in the rush to buy gifts, attend Christmas parties, recitals and plays. It is easy to think more about who we’ve left off our lists than to think about why we have the list in the first place.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
When Isaiah gave this word to King Ahaz, he must have had no clue what Isaiah was talking about. It is hard to imagine that Isaiah himself could have understood exactly what he was saying. There are two glaringly wrong things about this prophecy: virgins do not conceive and God is not “with us.”
But Isaiah’s word wasn’t wrong. The virgin did conceive, and she did give birth to Immanuel, God with us.
We celebrate Christmas each year because holidays make us stop our normal activity and reflect on their meaning. Unfortunately, it is easy for a consumerist society to lose sight of real meaning when there are presents to buy and travel plans to make. But such is life. Meaning always takes intentional reflection.
This week, as Christmas approaches, take a moment to reflect on this prophecy from Isaiah. It is one of the most important prophecies in scripture because it proclaimed the way God would redeem us with amazing clarity.
Why would God become one of us? Why would God come and be with us? For most of us, we struggle to understand how much God enjoys us. in fact, that thought rarely crosses our minds.
The end of the year is often a time of reflection, and what we see mostly are the regrets of things not accomplished. We make plans to be better in the new year. Better parents, better spouses, better people. We struggle to see how God could like the people we are, but we have hope that He will one day like the person we will become.
Nothing could be further from the truth. During this Christmas season, take a moment to meditate on why God came to be with us in the first place. He came to die for our sins, that we might be redeemed to be with Him forever. Read Revelation and see that the plan is not for us to go to God, but for Him to come to us and spend eternity on the earth He created.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Immanuel, God with us, came not for the person we may someday become, but for the person we will be forever, and the person we are now. God is with us because He loves us as we are.
Take your family to a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service this year and let God’s great love for you overcome you. God could have chosen any way He wanted to redeem us, but He chose to be with us and to die for us before we knew Him.
God With Us
Immanuel. God with us. That name brings me to tears when I think about His great love for me when I deserved it the least. No resolution I can make to be a better person will change the fact that He has been with us long before I decided to follow Him. He enjoyed me long before I decided to try and be a better father, husband, neighbor and person.
I do not deserve it, but God truly is with me.
And He is with you too.
Immanuel. During this Christmas season, what does that name mean to you?