Someone told me to read this really old book called Isaiah; it’s named for the guy who wrote it.
He was a prophet.
I’m told that prophets back then were like confrontational artists ahead of their time. They were strange and eccentric and they could show people things in a way that put them in a different perspective and wake people up to reality.
But usually nobody much liked them personally. They told people stuff they didn’t want to hear. And the stuff they told them was usually ahead of its time, just like the best art.
Know how many paintings Vincent Van Gogh sold while he was alive?
Just one. People didn’t get what he was doing until after he was dead.
Art is about expressing human feelings, but prophecy is about expressing God’s words. Think how much more delayed the general public’s reaction to that is.
Isaiah’s book is full of unpleasantness…well, up to a certain point, anyway.
Sin, judgement, spiritual adultery, suffering, abuse of power, etc., etc. A lot of stuff you don't want to read when the sun is shining outside.
Then, all of a sudden, he writes that God will give us a sign. A virgin giving birth to a child called Immanuel.
Immanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
Remember Israel, God’s chosen people, whom He named, “He who struggles with God?”
Well, Isaiah was letting us know that when we struggle, God is with us.
When we’re scared, God is with us.
When we try to avoid God, God is with us.
When we feel alone, God is with us.
When we harbor resentment, God is with us.
When we give in to hate, God is with us.
When we think we’re inadequate, God is with us.
When we’re sure we’re not good enough for anyone’s approval, God is with us.
When we argue with our spouse and yell at our kids, God is with us.
When we indulge addiction, God is with us.
When we think we might have made God up in our minds and that this whole thing is nothing but wishful thinking, God is with us.
God is with us when we hurt and God is with us when we celebrate. God is with us when we doubt and God is with us when we pout.
In a house, with a mouse, on a train, in a plane, here or there, everywhere, God is with us.
And not in an aloof, mechanical way. Not like, “Yeah, I created everything including you, so I’m in every molecule of your body.”
In a personal way. In an intimate way. In the way that only someone who knows your absolute greatest potential can be with you. Someone who knows what you were meant to be, and one day will be, through Christ. Someone who knows you better than you know yourself.
God is with us.
If you would like to join our Advent Study with readings about Immanuel, please click here.