Call to Worship December 19 2021

“In a day not dissimilar to our own the prophet Isaiah announced that Immanuel will come: 

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14). 

It is easy for us to lose sight of the fact that ‘Immanuel’, ‘God with us’, was one of the most familiar and important convictions of the Old Testament. It lay at the heart of the promise God gave to Jacob (Gen. 28:15); and was a key to help Moses to understand the significance of God’s name Yahweh – he would be God-with-him (Ex. 3:12). Think of the comfort of which David speaks in probably the most famous words in the Old Testament, perhaps even in the whole Bible:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4, 46:7, 91:15, & Isaiah, 41:10, 43:2). [emphasis added]

 So why was Isaiah’s prophecy so remarkable? Because he said that his prophecy was going to be fulfilled in a child. The promise points forward to the day when ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Matt. 1:23).’ For He is Immanuel – God with us. 

Isaiah indicated that the child Immanuel would be conceived in the womb of a virgin…given the preunderstanding of ‘Immanuel, God with us’ the unique nature of his conception and birth is wholly in keeping with the astonishing revelation that Yahweh, Immanuel, God with us, has planned to enter his world in human form. 

Amazing though the virgin birth is – or more fundamentally the virgin conception – it is altogether appropriate. If the eternal Word became flesh for our sake, by what other means would we expect this to happen? We may not be able to understand how the Spirit of God brought about the conception of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. But it is altogether consistent and indeed logical to believe that God who created all things out of nothing is capable of bringing his Son into the world in this way.   

But who was this child, Immanuel, to be? 

Jesus Immanuel is the light of the world who penetrates the darkness. He provides everything we need for our salvation (John 8:12). He does so because he exercises a four-fold ministry as Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. He is all of these things, all of the time, for all of his people. Isaiah knew much less about him than we now do. Yet he understood that what he would do, tells us a great deal about what we most need.”

[1] (Sinclair Ferguson)