As I was teaching the Sunday School lesson this past Sunday, I mentioned how James tells us in James 5:7, that we’re to be patient “…until the coming of the Lord.” We hear that often, don’t we? Today we use the term, “just around the corner” when we refer to something about to happen. I’ve heard that the Lord will be coming soon all my life and I’m pretty sure you have as well.
That was God’s plan from the beginning to send His Son Jesus to save the world of its sin. Few Old Testament verses are better known than that of Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (NASB).
The New Testament writers profoundly believed that in Christ the great messianic promises of the Old Testament found supreme fulfilment. The records of both Matthew and Luke support the belief that this prophecy had specific fulfilment in the birth of Christ.
Isaiah’s prophecy was given during the reign of Ahaz when Jerusalem was suffering pressure from a confederacy formed by Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, son of Remaliah, king of Israel (2 Kings 16:5; 2 Chronicles 28:5-6; Isaiah 7:1). The fall of the Northern Kingdom, then called Israel, had not yet taken place.
To protect himself against Rezin and Pekah, Ahaz sought an alliance with Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, sometimes called Asshur, and was depending on that alliance for help. The prophet Isaiah was vigorously opposed to the alliance. Ahaz was placing greater confidence in the assistance of a heathen king than in the help of God. Isaiah told Ahaz to believe that if the people would turn to God, then God would deliver them out of this crisis. He simply told Ahaz to ask for a sign from God as a guarantee that God’s assistance would be given.
Ahaz refused to ask for a sign and Isaiah gave him a sign anyway and told him those famous words in chapter 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign…” We all know that the sign was a child would be born of a virgin and his name would be Immanuel.
Looking back upon this marvelous assurance in the light of the New Testament, we must interpret the prophecy as having its highest fulfilment not in an event in Ahaz’s day, but in the coming of Him who is the Word that “…became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14). The New Testament affirms, Christ truly is “…God with us…” (Matthew 1:23). The name Immanuel means exactly that, “God with us.”
So how near is God? If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that God and Jesus and the Holy Sprit are all One and the same. What we speak of now about the Lord coming is His second coming, when He will rule the world. And that time is known only by God Himself. By having the Holy Spirit within us helps us to live a life “in Christ” here on earth. We now have the assurance that we will live with Christ forever! That is worth rejoicing over!