Have you ever waited and waited for something? The release of a new movie, that certain someone to text you back, or graduation? Sometimes, it feels like forever! But the reason you wait is because you have at least a little bit of hope that it will happen.
The Advent season is a time of waiting. During Advent, we reflect on the hope of the Jewish people as they waited for their Messiah, and we wait expectantly for Jesus to come again and make the world right.
The Bible sets up not only the need, but the prophecy for the coming Savior all the way back in Genesis. This leaves the Israelites in hopeful waiting.
They are told that the Messiah, a descendent of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16), will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), yet called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1), that a star will signify him (Numbers 24:17), and that he will be called names such as Prince of Peace and Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). I could go on!
You can probably see why they were desperately waiting for this coming Messiah to enter into the world to save them from its brokenness. Every Old Testament prophecy about Jesus’ birth is fulfilled in the accounts in the first and second chapters of Matthew and Luke! Yet, perhaps the most astonishing is the fulfillment of the prophecy below.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She 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).
Questions to Consider
Why is the Messiah called Jesus? Why is he called Immanuel? How do these different names demonstrate the fulfillment of the hope of the Israelites?
Why might God choose to wait 700 years between foretelling Jesus’ virgin birth and actually fulfilling his promise? What might he be teaching them/us?
What are you hoping and waiting for right now? How can you take hope in God’s record of faithfulness as recorded throughout the Bible?
The song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a favorite Christmas song of mine as it takes into its melody the prophecy of Isaiah and calls up the history of the Israelites who have mourned their exile-- a waiting period in itself-- and yearn for the Messiah. Then, the song moves powerfully into Jesus’ victory over the grave and all evil in the world! There is hope, it exclaims. That hope comes from the fact that God came to be with us! Immanuel (God with us) represents God’s love in two amazing ways.
First, God created us to be relational beings, so he is relational with us! The perfect Son of God and rightful heir to the heavenly throne, came to us to make his place among sinners in this broken, dirty, and painful world. He came not only to walk among us, but to walk with us! In fact, "we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus can relate to us and carry us through the waiting period.
Jesus came because he wants to have a personal relationship with you. He wants you to know him like he knows you. He cares to know you down to your core, and loves you despite your flaws.
Second, God is faithful! When he told Isaiah that prophecy and Isaiah communicated it to the Israelites, they had to wait 700 years for it to be fulfilled. They probably began to doubt as time went on. They certainly strayed from God to pursue other "interests" and “gods.” Despite their lack of faithfulness as they waited, God kept his promise, as he always does. He is faithful, so we can trust him!
There is hope in the waiting, and that hope is Jesus, Immanuel, God with you.
Song of the Week
"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" by Lauren Daigle Listen to this song as a closing prayer.