December 22, 2014
Read Isaiah 7:10-17.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son,and shall call His Name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14B
All right, we have some kind of shelter for our Nativity scene. Now let’s turn to the one object inside that shelter that is mentioned specifically in the Christmas account: the manger. A manger is a feeding trough for animals. Don’t you think that’s a pretty shabby crib? I wonder if Joseph and Mary ever thought about that. The best they could do for God’s one and only Son was to lay Him in a feeding trough inside a pitiable shelter? If it was me, I think I’d be trembling in fear at the thought.
Actually, that’s what a lot of people do at Christmas time. They tremble in fear over problems in their lives: serious health problems, bills they can’t pay, jobs they’ve lost, marriages that have crumbled, or loved ones who are no longer here. Sadly, many Christians add the fear that these are punishments from a displeased God.
Actually, one of the great prophecies of Jesus’ coming was given to a king quaking in fear. King Ahaz was a descendant of King David and ancestor of Jesus. Seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Ahaz feared two kingdoms that were threatening his little kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, and its neighbor Aram (Syria) had allied together to conquer Judah and replace Ahaz.
God wasn’t about to let that happen. Instead He sent the prophet Isaiah to reassure him. God offered to perform any miracle Ahaz asked, but Ahaz didn’t trust God and refused to ask for one. So Isaiah rebuked the king, then said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel. … For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted” (Isaiah 7:14, 16). Within the time a baby could be conceived, delivered, and grow old enough to know the difference between good and bad, those two kingdoms would cease to exist.
The virgin’s Son is a sign for us as well. He is holy and pure, and He gives us His holy and perfect life as though it were our own. He took our sin upon Himself and suffered the punishment we deserve. Because of His great exchange we can stand pure and holy before God the Father by faith, clothed in Christ’s holiness and righteousness.
Isaiah tells us the virgin “shall call His Name Immanuel.” That name means “God with us.” This reassures us that no matter what our problems may be this Christmas, God is right here with us just as He was with Mary and Joseph. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He will deliver us from all our problems too.
THE PRAYER: Almighty God, thank You for noticing our fear and anxiety. Thank You for comforting and reassuring us. Remind us that You are Immanuel and that we may know You are an ever-present help in trouble, until the day You bring us to Your eternal rest. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Advent Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Reverend Wayne Palmer