Advent Day 2
Isaiah 1:1 ESV
Isaiah 1:7 ESV
Isaiah 4:2 ESV
Isaiah 4:5 ESV
Exodus 13:22-23 (pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire at night)
Isaiah 7:14 ESV
2 Kings 16:2-3 ESV
2 Kings 16:20 ESV
2 Kings 18:3 ESV
Luke 1:31 (Angel Promised)
Luke 1:34-35 ESV
Matthew 1:21-23 ESV
I’ve often wondered if the Prophet Isaiah had any idea about the meaning of the prophecies he received. Did he know this Immanuel who was promised was THE Christ?
Did he know what the sign would be?
Isaiah began his ministry during a very difficult time for the northern kingdom of Israel. By 722 B.C. the northern kingdom fell when the Assyrian Empire captured the capital city of Samaria. We know from Isaiah 1:1, “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”
Isaiah served God as prophet under four kings.
We are told in Isaiah 1:7, “Your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire;in your very presence foreigners devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.”
Generally speaking in the first chapters the Isaiah issues judgement against Judah and Jerusalem. But even in the midst of dark days, the Lord spoke to the prophet in Isaiah 4 telling of a branch in Isaiah 4:2, “In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious.”
In Isaiah 4:5 the prophet wrote, “Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night.” We remember the cloud by day and fire by night was given to the children of Israel when they left Egypt. God promised in Exodus 13:22-23 HE would lead them by a pillar of cloud by day and by a pillar of fire by night. They did not need worry. God would show them the way.
The promise of God’s leading by day and by night as God had done before would have reminded Israel of God’s previous faithfulness. Even in their dark hour, God was promising through Isaiah’s words that God would be with them as He had been with them before.
Israel needed to hear the promise. They needed to be reminded who God was to them.
This was their God.
They were the holy people of God set apart for a purpose.
In Isaiah 7:14 the word given to Isaiah from God was a word of Hope. He told them, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.“
The people were told a SON was coming.
He also told them the mother of the child would be a virgin.
Two thousand plus years later when the words of the prophet are read as part of the Christmas story we accept the words about the child being born to Mary the Virgin. I’ve heard that scripture being read in church all my life. I accept it as truth.
I didn’t wonder about the words of the prophet’s reference to the virgin birth. When I was a child I didn’t even think about the circumstances in Israel at the time this scripture was written.
Decades later I wonder how Isaiah’s prophecy was received. I wonder what was going on in Israel at the time they heard about the promised child (son) who would come.
I wonder what they thought and felt about the promise. Did the promise give them hope?
Because of my questions, I looked up what was happening and what had happened in Israel at that time. The prophecy about the promised son would have been written during the reign of evil King Ahaz around 733 B.C. (https://www.israel-a-history-of.com/isaiah-7.html)
We turn to 2 Kings 16 to find that Ahaz, King of Judah went down in history as being the most wicked King of Judah.
We learn from 2 Kings 16:2-3, “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, as his father David had done, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel.”
King Ahaz was SO evil that he even offered (burned) one of his sons on an altar of foreign gods.
But when evil King Ahaz was on the throne, God gave a message of great promise through Isaiah to the people of Judah. Even though things looked really bad for Judah, God promised a son would come born of a virgin and he would be called Immanuel.
We know from 2 Kings 16:20 that when evil King Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah became King of Judah. Then reading 2 Kings 18:3 we are told that King Hezekiah, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done.”
I have to think that it was no accident that God sent a great hope-filled promise to the people of Judah during the reign of evil King Ahaz. God was saying to them, ‘you are not forgotten’ and ‘all is not lost’.
At a time when the children of God in Judah needed hope, God gave them great hope. Actually, God gave them much much more than they could have ever imagined possible. Not only did good King Hezekiah (son of evil King Ahaz) assume the throne, God promised He WAS sending His own HOLY son to save them.
When we fast forward to 400 B.C. history tells us for 400 years before Jesus arrived, there were no prophets. That time period is known as the intertestamental years (or the deuterocanonical period). It’s the time period between the prophecies of Malachi and the appearance of John the Baptist.
During that time God was silent.
God was preparing them for a great event that would change everything.
A SON would come. When the time of silence ended, God sent an Angel to a young maiden named Mary who told her she would bear a son (Luke 1:31). And we read in Luke 1:34-35, “Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
The people were told there would be a sign. A virgin will conceive and bear a son. In Matthew 1:21-23 we are told an Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that his betrothed, Mary, “will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”
God promised through the prophet Isaiah a son would come.
AND the Son came. His name was Immanuel. Which means God with us.
Spiritual Practice: God with YOU
Sit in silence with God. Ask God to help you to experience God with YOU.
In God, Deborah