"Isaiah prophecies to Ahaz about the birth of Chris, Immanuel" Stained Glass window in the Church of St Etheldreda, Ely Place, London

God With Us

Our lesson this week hinges on a name – Immanuel – God with us. There’s a lot in this name.,,

  • “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

God told King Ahaz to ask for a sign, for something that would show him that God was going to do what he said he’d do. But Ahaz wouldn’t ask. So God gave it anyway. And this sign, this Immanuel, would be born into the same line of kings from which King Ahaz descended. But it would look very different by the time it got to him. Ahaz was the last King of David’s line to sit on a throne and rule over Judah. He was negotiating with Assyria to form an “alliance” which would ultimately lead to a long string of oppressive foreign rulers all the way up to Rome at the time of Jesus’ birth. Why did he want this alliance? It seemed safe, it seemed wise in the face of danger to make just such an alliance with your bigger, stronger enemy.

  • “If you are not firm in faith, You will not be firm at all”

God’s people had forgotten who they were, that they were “God with us” – the very people with whom the God of the universe chose to dwell. He was their hope, their security, their strength. But they lost their faith, in the face of the whole army of Assyria bearing down on them, “God with us” didn’t seem strong enough. The glamor, the strength, and the might of the foreign nations surrounding them drew their attention and caused them to drift from the God who loved them, who knew them, and who was with them.

What does “God with us” look like? Isaiah’s poem in Chapter 9 gives us a pretty good idea:

  • From deep darkness to great light
  • Multiplied the nation
  • Increased it’s joy
  • Broke the rod of the oppressor
  • Burned the boot of the trampling warrior
  • A child…

Wait, what? A child? The “God with us” who just a couple chapters ago filled the whole earth with his glory, who came down Mount Sinai in Exodus and the people had to set up boundaries so they wouldn’t accidentally touch him and die.. this “Immanuel” is going to be a child?

“God with us” was not who God’s people thought.

  • "And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper."

God with us is quiet.

  • “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!”

God with us is humble.

  • Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him,“My Lord and my God!”

God with us is touchable.

In Immanuel, God incarnate is with us, present and powerful and perfect.

Join us Tuesday night as we worship together, pray together, and seek to know our God.