All right then, the Lord Himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
We live in troubling times. We are facing a worldwide health crisis. The novel coronavirus has invaded almost every country in the world, and while scientists and politicians are trying to sound positive, no one knows the outcome. The future appears bleak. What do we do? How do we respond?
Times such as these are a great motivator to look back and remember how God always comes through! The celebrated verse above, from Isaiah, is a steadfast reminder of the love of God for His people everywhere. At the time the prophecy was made, King Ahaz of Judah faced a terrifying situation with another type of invasion. King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel set out to invade Jerusalem, the capital of Judah. The two kings were mad because they wanted King Ahaz to join forces with them to fight the Assyrians. The Prophet Isaiah counseled King Ahaz to trust God and not align himself with foreign allies.
The Bible says when King Ahaz heard the news of the invasion:
“the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm.” Isaiah 7:2 (NLT)
The Lord instructed Isaiah to tell King Ahaz to stop worrying because he had nothing to fear:
But this is what the Sovereign Lord says: This invasion will never happen; it will never take place….” Isaiah 7: 7 (NLT)
And then through Isaiah, the Lord gave the King a sign to confirm His word:
“…Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us.’” Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
A child was born. The invasion never occurred.
The Old Testament prophetic sign was given as an immediate assurance of God’s presence, protection and provision. Centuries later, it had a messianic fulfillment. In the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew clearly views Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled in the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary:
“All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:22-23 (NLT)
When Isaiah announces, “Look!” He is saying something wonderful is about to happen! Something extraordinary! ‘God with us’ is a declaration of His presence.
The declaration is as much for us today as it was for King Ahaz and as it was for the early Christians. While we are prone to worry, let us try not to. When we are tempted to be afraid, let us remember the promise: Jesus is Immanuel: God with us! He is our hope in the midst of adversity. He is our comforter. He is our Shalom. He loves us. He forgives us. He guides us. He is our rock and our shield.
Immanuel, God With Us, is the best gift ever! With His presence, we are never alone.
During this time of fear and uncertainty, let us refuse to worry or be afraid, and instead, ponder the greatest gift ever given and rejoice!