God is with Us.

“The king is coming”! I am singing this beautiful song his morning and my eyes are filled with tears as I am taken back to those first weeks after my rebirth in Christ. – the expectation of Your return.

“Yes, since I walked the earth and passed to heaven there has been an expectation of My immanent return. That is right because my return has been as immanent then as it is now – because I am outside of time. The huge display of sound and light, trumpets and chariots are a mere symbols of the reality of what it is going to be like. In an instant, the present will roll back – everything will be transformed. I will display Myself in all My majesty and every knee will bow an every tongue will confess My Lordship – and you will be part of My Bride consisting of myriads of others who will be celebrating their redemption and rescue from the sin and evil of this world. Let this vision and thought transform you this week. Let it soak into your conscious right down to the bottom of your subconscious, so that it affects every part of your life.”

I am going to leave the vision in Isaiah for the time being and move on to the next section of Isaiah. Chapters 7 t0 12 have been called “the book of Immanuel”. Now the challenge is to read this meaningfully as a devotion, without doing a deep bible study. War is always complex and the biblical wars no less. To understand all the aspects of the conflicts which form a backdrop to Isaiah’s prophecy, one would have to study Kings and Chronicles and follow the thread of the whole history of Israel. So what I suggest we do is visualize a framework, within which Isaiah’s prophetic words can fit, in such a way that we can draw an intelligent conclusion on which to base what we feel Jesus is saying to us daily, without necessarily grasping all the details of the different hostilities and the intricacies of all the prophecies

So this is how I see the basic framework at the moment. The book has begun with 5 chapters describing Israel’s apostasy, with warnings of God’s judgement because of that. In ch 6 we see the beginning of God’s reaction. He has raised up and called a spokesperson to bring His message to the people. In this chapter we see the wrath and judgement of God as the immediate message. However there is a glimmer of hope, a remnant. Now we know where this picture of a remnant is ultimately aiming. From it God will raise up a “Servant” who through His suffering will bring release from God’s judgement to that remnant and later to the whole world.

We should take into account the way God communicates. He uses names, for instance to pronounce concepts, like Isaiah’s two sons. Into the mix comes a significant name “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. Initially, though this “name” is not necessarily attached to one particular person, but rather a general statement of God’s presence with His people cf 8:10b.

God also uses pictures to make the truth and severity of His judgement more real. Like 7:18, whistling for flies and bees, the result of calling on Egypt and Assyria for help. 7:19 the danger of hiring Assyria to help is likened to a razor that will shave everything even their private parts. 8:7,8 Assyria coming like a mighty flood to sweep everything away before them.

Behind this appears this mystical figure called Immanuel, which is a faint prediction, at this stage, of the real Saviour. We remember that He is later known as Immanuel. Matthew tells us that in Matt 1:23. We also read the familiar description of a figure who is a Stone to cause stumbling, a Rock which makes them fall. cf Isa 8:14. For now this description focuses on His role as judge. From ch 9 we will see Him in a different role.

So as I read now with this framework in mind, I see Ahaz, a weak king faced by aggressive nations, who are being used by God to enact His judgement. Ahaz is warned of this and reminded of the importance of standing firm in his faith. 7:9b. The Lord says “ask Me for a sign” 7:11, as He appears to offer help. However Ahaz is hard hearted and follows the plan he has already devised in his own mind 7:12. In the light of this attitude of rejection, God pronounces judgement, and the name Immanuel as the “sign” of that.

So what do I hear Jesus saying to me? God’s judgement looms large, even in the name Immanuel. This reminds me again of the reality of God’s judgement, as severe today as in that time. I only have to look around at the world to see the signs of that. Understanding this makes me ever so grateful that I have escaped it through the very figure we are getting the first glimpse of for now. I am also reminded of the urgency with which I should be telling this message to others.

But what speaks to me more clearly, is the interaction between Ahaz and God. Ahaz’s reaction reflects what many of us, myself included, often run to when we are faced with a crisis. Rather than stop and turn to God for His guidance, I immediately start devising my own plans and seeking another rescuer. This will not call God’s judgement down on me, however like Ahaz, because Jesus has taken that judgment on Himself. It may, however lead me down a path which takes me away from God rather than towards Him. Nevertheless I have His promise that He will always be with me.

What do you hear Jesus say to you from these two chapters?

6 Replies to “God is with Us.”

  1. The book of Isaiah has opened my eyes and heart to the incredible depth and power of our God’s love. The same God who pleaded and reasoned and begged with Israel, has been revealed to us in human flesh, our Emmanuel, God with us.

    Where else, with whom else, can we possibly find such patience and tenderness?

    Such a God is the Judge I desire, with the assurance that He won’t be just Judge, but also Advocate and Ransom. Because judged we will be – either whilst covered by His grace, or outside of it in the cold and lifeless, doomed expanse. What a pity that Ahaz was blind to this grace, blinded by his own fear and self-reliance.

    God planted His vineyard with the utmost care and love, given them the best soil, sunlight, rain… and yet they only yielded sourness, rotten fruits. When God cries out, “what else could I possibly do to pull you under my wings…??” … the answer came with the promise of the stump of Jesse that was left in that arid, lifeless soil, waiting for the right time to sprout.

    From death came new growth, abundant growth, stretching out its branches to embrace us and graft us, dry little sticks, into the vine that would become our source of life and growth.

    Like you reminded us, Ian, Jesus is coming back to fulfill His final promise, to take us to be with Him always. The time from Isaiah’s prophesy to the birth of Christ must have seemed endlessly long to those waiting and watching, just like it might seem to us now. But we have His assurance, and all the signs given in prophesy, to strengthen and equip us until then.

    That is what I cling to, the hope given to me through Isaiah ‘s pen: that God always delivers!

    1. The above went straight into my heart and I feel incredibly blessed by Ian’s teaching and the reaction on this blog. It is no coincidence (rather a “Godcidence”) that I am reading a book – “Israel and the Church” and just today I read the following on the Book of Revelation (pg. 121) : “John included seven signs in his Gospel to prove that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. He is not just a man. He is Immanuel – God with us.” Hallelujah!!

  2. Amen! Our souls are created for eternity with our Holy Lord and Father through Christ . Therefore we experience an insatiable longing in our hearts. People are trying to satisfy this inconsolable longing with the false values of this fallen world. Our innermost being has to be focused on the indescribable majesty and beauty of Christ. Our Lord’s promises are true and as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we will celebrate our redemption with Him in heaven. I know that i am not made for this world. My soul will.only find fulfillment and peace in Christ alone. I agree with C.S Lewis The things of this world ” For they are not the thing itself , they are only a scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have nor heard, news from a country we have never yet visited ” C. S. Lewis A mind awake. All power and glory be to our Holy Lord forever and ever! Amen

  3. Thank you for all your comments. The excitement is only hotting up as the veil is drawn further back today, so that we can see Messiah more clearly in the distance.

  4. Amen, therefore, ” Let us run with endurance the race set before us , focusing on Jesus the iniciator and perfecter of our faith. ” Hebrews 12 1

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