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Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent, Day 13

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JOURNEY to the MANGER: Advent 2010
ISAIAH 7:10-25
David W. Gill

Few leaders in human history have rivaled Judah’s king Ahaz for his unrelieved wickedness. He abandoned the ways of his forefather David. He offered at least one of his sons in child sacrifice. He plundered the Lord’s temple, stealing whatever seemed valuable, recklessly profaning its sacred contents. Ahaz was a hardcore idolatry addict, erecting altars and sponsoring worship to false gods from neighboring pagan nations. His folly and unfaithfulness left Judah vulnerable and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Challenged by the prophet Isaiah to seek a sign from the Lord, Ahaz refused.

And yet, just at that low point, God delivered a sign of redemption to come: a young woman, a virgin, would conceive and bear a son who would be named Immanuel, “God with us.” In the darkest, worst hour, God brought hope and the promise of his presence.

In hindsight, it must have occurred to many that this prophecy was fulfilled (in part, at least) when Ahaz’s own son, Hezekiah, succeeded him as king. Bad dad, great son: what a miracle! Hezekiah quickly cleaned out all the idols and restored the worship of the true God of Israel.

And of course, it is Matthew who records the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:22-23). This is gospel indeed: our leaders may be dreadful and we the people aren’t much, if any, better–and yet God promises to come and be with us. Praise to Immanuel.

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

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