“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NIV)
In Isaiah 7, Ahaz, king of Judah, faced a pretty dangerous threat. The king of Aram and the king of Israel had allied and were planning a joint invasion of Judah. Then God sent Isaiah to Ahaz with an encouraging word. “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid… It will not take place, it will not happen” (Isaiah 7:4, 7). God went on to say that the young woman betrothed to Isaiah would have a son named Immanuel, and, before that boy was 12 or 13 years old, both the king of Aram and the king of Israel would be “laid waste” by the king of Assyria. In other words, God said, “Don’t be afraid of them, Ahaz! Within the next decade, the two nations you fear will both be brought to ruin by Assyria. Stay calm; I am with you. Every time you see Isaiah’s son, Immanuel, you’ll remember that I am with you.”
This prophecy was fulfilled in 732 B.C. when the boy was about two years old. Assyria invaded and defeated both Israel and Aram.
Isaiah’s son’s name, Immanuel, means “God is with us.” We know now that this prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, who is quite literally God with us as a human being. Also, it is continually being fulfilled for those of us who follow Jesus by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. But, if it is true that God is with me, why do I often live as though he isn’t? Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes there are big things that have the potential to create a lot of anxiety. It’s silly to worry because God himself is with us, walking alongside us through whatever we face. That doesn’t mean our road will be an easy one, but it does mean that we won’t go it alone. And, God with us means strength to endure whatever this life throws at us.
Still, it is easy to forget that the King of the Universe is with us. That’s why we need to put up “signs” in our lives that remind us of Immanuel. It’s too bad we really only use that name at Christmas time! We need to be reminded of God’s presence in and with us all year long. That’s one reason we make gathering for worship on Sunday mornings a priority each week. It reminds us that God is with us. In addition to gathered worship, some people put Scripture on sticky notes on their bathroom mirrors. Others have a daily quiet time where they meet with God in his Word. Others check in with Christian friends throughout the week to share Scripture and prayer.
My prayer for this week is that we will all figure out a few simple signs we can use to remember that God is with us. May you experience his love this week!