Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 KJV)
During The Hope of Christmas, we are doing selections from The Symphony of Christmas. The opening scene reminds us that in Genesis 22:8 (NASB), Abraham told Issac as he prepared his only son for sacrifice in obedience to God that God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.
The following scenes capture the realization of the prophecy surrounding the birth of Jesus. The Angel appears to Mary and then to Joseph and then the couple begins their journey to Bethlehem. The Jews had waited for this for years – yet, they missed it. You see they sought an earthly king and not a Heavenly One. They (we) failed to get that God’s plan for them was not their (our) plans for themselves (ourselves).
“O come, O come Emmanuel. And ransom captive Israel that mourns in lowly exile here. Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel. Shall come to thee, O Israel.” The basis of Israel’s plea is the promise found in Isaiah 7:14 (KJV): Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. The promise is clear – a baby, conceived by a virgin, the Son of God. I just have never understood how they missed that point. I am certain there are a lot of things I don’t understand!
So often we see in a situation what we want to see. God sees clearly. He knew the desires of the hearts of the Jews in the days of Jesus’ birth as He knows the desires of our hearts. Truly, we are not worthy to bow down at that manager and worship any more than those kings and shepherds were all those years ago. Yet because God provided the Lamb, we are redeemed!
The Old Testament is rich with the prophecy of Jesus’ coming as “Emmanuel, God with us”. The little book of Micah so specifically tells this in chapter 5:2-4: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
Micah is talking about us – the Gentiles – the “rest of the brothers!” My favorite Christmas verse is the first part of verse 5: And he will be our peace. Jesus was and is our peace.
I am not one of those who is constantly looking for end-times’ signs. I (right, wrong, indifferent) don’t get hung up in the calendar. I am fully certain, though, Jesus will return as He promised. Our responsibility is to be personally ready and to be obedient to His Great Commission to tell others.
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” God is with us. I believe.
Still Choosing Joy