I was taught by Dr. Frederick Tiffany that, to properly interpret Scripture, we must take off our own lenses in order to see what is said not what we want to hear. Throughout the Bible, we can see where God’s people have heard the Word of God and then taken it to suit themselves. Adam and Eve did it. Abraham did it. Isaac and Jacob and Moses and Saul and David and Solomon did it. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because God told them to go into the Promised Land… and they ran because the Canaanites were HUGE to them. And in a familiar text from Isaiah, one we hear at Christmastime, we find the beginning of why there was a 400 year silence from God before the birth of the Promised Messiah.
Isaiah 7: 1-17 tells the story of King Ahaz in the time when the king of Israel and his allies were wanting to conquer and divide up Judah for themselves, taking Jerusalem. The LORD speaks through Isaiah to Ahaz and tells him to ask for a sign that the LORD would be with him. Ahaz will not do it. Whether it be timidity or cynicism or any other cop-out he could come up with, the LORD tells Ahaz that this will be the sign… a sign that Ahaz would never see, prophesying of the destruction of Ahaz’s enemies… which he never saw, and of “Immanuel” being born of a virgin… again, which he never saw. It would be many more of his successors and many defeats by conquerors that would bring about the time when the LORD would fulfill His Promises. All because Ahaz refused to ask for what God wanted to bring to prove His Honor, Power, and Authority over all of Ahaz’s enemies.
Some ask and ask and ask, out of selfishness, of what we can do for them. It, in turn, can jade us against ever asking anyone for anything. Any relationship should be an equal amount of giving and receiving, but they are not often lived on even ground. Our relationship with God is truly “half horse, half rabbit”. God’s Promises are unconditional while ours are often short lived, offered when we are in trouble and forgotten when times are good. We hear God’s Promises and Directions, but once they get us out of trying times, we choose our own path, wondering why God is not showing us with great gifts. The greatest gift given is His Only Son, but while we often see His Greatness as what He can do, His Greatness is in His Presence with us, good or bad times, whether we are faithful or doubting His Goodness.
The weeks before Christmas are referred to a time of expectation. We are, both, remembering the Coming of Immanuel and expecting Immanuel’s return to redeem this broken world. I would proclaim that this time should be a yearly renewal of the realization that WE are now God’s Immanuel because WE are to be the Body of Christ come to save the world. The world asks for a sign. We are His Answer.
What is God calling me to become this month to be Immanuel to the world?