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Heritage Bible Church Newsletter ~ December 2013
Ahaz was afraid as he looked out over the walls of Jerusalem. The armies of two nations, Aram and the northern kingdom of Israel, had surrounded the city. They intended to conquer Jerusalem, depose him as king of Judah, and set up a puppet government loyal to them. So far, the warriors of Judah had repulsed the enemy, but how long could they hold out?
Isaiah was on a mission. He was commissioned by God to speak to Ahaz. He confronted him on the street to the fuller’s field and boldly stated that the Lord declared Jerusalem would not fall to Aram and Israel (Is.7:3-7). Then the Lord requested that Ahaz ask for a sign so that he would be assured that the words of the prophet were true (Is.7:10-11). Ahab refused and Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a Son, and she will call his name Immanuel.”
Of course, Immanuel means “God with us.” But we might ask, “When is He with us?” God is with us when we are afraid. The hearts of Ahaz and the people of Jerusalem shook like trees blowing in the wind (Is.7:2) when they heard of the approaching armies. What could they do? Where could they flee? But God said they didn’t need to fear because the plans of the enemy would not stand because “God is with us” (Is.8:10).
Moses was leading the children of Israel away from Egypt. But now the Egyptian army was pursuing them. They were trapped between the Egyptians and the sea. There was going to be a great slaughter and those who survived would be returned to slavery. But the pillar of cloud that had been leading them stood in the gap and God caused a great wind to part the waters. They escaped through the Red Sea because in the form of the large cloud, God was with them.
God is with us when we are disappointed. Joseph was in shock. His beautiful bride-to-be was expecting a child. She had been unfaithful. He was terribly disappointed. But he knew what he had to do, cancel the wedding, annul the covenant, divorce this woman. He could do it publicly so she would be shamed and disgraced. Or he could do it privately and let her bear the consequences of her unfaithfulness at home. He chose to divorce her quietly. The world would learn about her soon enough. But before he could do it an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him that Mary had not been unfaithful, but she was bearing the child spoken of in Isaiah’s prophecy about
Immanuel, God with us. God changed his disappointment into peace because God was with him. God is with us even when we are in unbelief. God was with Ahaz even though he did not believe. God is with us to bring us to belief. Jesus came into the world so we would believe (Jn.1:10-14)
God is with us to give us a future. Christ is in us and He is the assurance that we have a glorious future (Colossians 1:27).
God is with us when we are afraid, when we are disappointed, when we believe, when we don’t believe, and he will be with us in our glorious future. God was with us in our past and He will be with us in our future. But Immanuel means God IS with us, not was and not will be. He is with you and me right now. He is with us in whatever circumstance we are facing. Because He is with us, we can go on.