The Israelites were saved from slavery by God through Moses from the Egyptians, but then they promptly tumbled into murmuring. I can’t tell you how many times I have read the story of the Exodus and thought, “What were they thinking?”
My thought originates from a feeling of how wonderful it would be to have God with us as a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. We wouldn’t need to worry or pray for direction or doubt if we were on the right path. God would be right there. Leading us the entire way. How wonderful would that be?
There are even some that believe that the cloud of glory was not just hanging in the sky, leading the Israelites. It enveloped them and protected them. The Israelites actually moved inside the cloud of God. That is a pretty amazing thought, if true.
It is hard to imagine how the Israelites murmured and complained with God right there with them.
He was right there!!
The only thing that I can imagine that would be better is literally walking with God in the cool of the day as Adam did. Again, in that case, it is hard to imagine how Adam could violate the one thing God told him not to do and risk that ability to be with God, but we know that he did.
Actually, this is the story of human history.
God is with us and we violate it over and over. We complain. Want more! Think of what we don’t have! Doubt God’s power, and his love and care for us!
The first time the word Immanuel is used in the Bible is when Ahaz is scared. Ahaz was an evil king of Judah during the time that Isaiah was a prophet. His 16 years on the throne are squeezed between two good kings, Jotham and Hezekiah. By this time the kingdom of Israel was split in two and the Northern Kingdom of Israel had joined forces with Syria and was threatening Jerusalem and King Ahaz (Isaiah 7).
This is about 250 years after King David and 750 years before Christ.
Isaiah, the messenger of God, tells Ahaz that the plans of those laying siege to Jerusalem will not stand. In his unbelief, Ahaz asks for a sign, and the sign that Isaiah gives is the sign of Immanuel (Is. 7:14). Now before Isaiah tells Ahaz of the sign of Immanuel, he also tells the king that the Northern Kingdom will be carried off by Assyria within 65 years.
Ahaz receives this news apathetically. He just doesn’t get it. The news floats right over his head just like it does for many people today. They miss just how awesome this news is.
They miss that the presence of God makes us whole, provides peace in our hearts.
They miss that the “dwelling place” of God is with man (Rev. 21:3). Not only do we need him, but God wants to be with us. Ultimately, we will be able to walk with him again, like in the Garden.
Actually, Jesus talks about eating with us one day in heaven before he is crucified for our sins (Lk. 21:3).
This is good news! I think that we miss this. We are really busy. Some of you are too busy to even think so you just roll through your day trying to keep up. Sometimes it is hard to simply pause and think. One day you wake up, and boom, it is Christmas. Others of you are just looking for entertainment or play or good gifts this Holiday Season. You are not thinking about God being with you.
This name for Christ is used 4 times total in the Bible—three in Isaiah and then one by Matthew when he quotes Isaiah 7:14. (Matthew uses the Greek version of the word with an “E”, while Isaiah uses the Hebrew with an “I”. ) Matthew hooks into this prophecy in Isaiah and its importance when he is describing what is going on in his Gospel. Matthew wants us to understand how the story of Jesus has rippled through history. This is why the coming of Jesus made so many waves in the time he was writing. Yes, Jesus was divine but this story is about God being with us. We need him and he delights in being with us.
It was about God being with us! Walking in the Garden! Enveloping Us in the Wilderness! Giving Us the Water of Life! And, Delivering Us From Evil!
In this sense, think of prayer—prayer is foundational to our life with God. I could write an entire treatise on prayer here, but I don’t think you have the time to read it at this moment in this email.
So, let me just say, prayer is important because it connects us back to the truth of Jesus Christ being God with Us! He is right there with us!!
Ultimately, that is the point. Does God being with you mean anything to you? Take a moment and think about that…
Would it change what you do? How you think? Does this change your goals?
We live in a very anxious world that is running constantly. I can tell you that road traffic here around our home has really picked up this Season. Everybody is running! Most are worried because they listen and read the news. Others are just trying to get that perfect gift.
King Ahaz had his enemies besieging his city and Isaiah comes to him and tells him Immanuel is coming, the King didn’t care. I imagine that Ahaz was thinking, “Why does this matter to me now?” To Isaiah, this was big news and it clearly was, but we need to just pause to see it.