Christmas – tough times

Christmas was in the making a long time before it happened.
The story was planned, prepared and told to man before Christ came to man.

David in Psalm 2:7 prophesied that Jesus is the Son of God
That was 1,000 years before Christmas.

Hosea 11:1 Jesus spending a season in Egypt
That was 750 years before Christmas.

Micah 5:2 Jesus born in Bethlehem
That was 730 years before Christmas.

Isaiah 7:14 Jesus born to a virgin yet Immanuel
Isaiah 9:1-2 Jesus a light to the Gentiles
Isaiah 9:7 Jesus heir of David’s throne
That was 700 years before Christmas.

Zechariah 9:9 Jesus called King.
That was 520 years before Christmas.

We are still in Joseph’s dream. The angel is explaining how Mary is right. Matthew inserts the link back to the prophecy of Isaiah.

“All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).” (Matthew 1 v 22-23)

For Matthew’s Jewish readers they know instantly the context of that prophecy. It is set in a tough time. The nation of Judah is under threat. This is the nation that held to the royal line of David, the Messianic line. The threat to Judah was from the northern kingdom, Israel and its ally, Syria. This was an anxious time for everyone in Judah. The prophet Isaiah encourages King Ahaz to remain strong and not be afraid. God will give Ahaz a sign. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NRSV) The Hebrew word describes a young woman who is assumed to be a virgin and the Greek word used to describe Mary means virgin.

Isaiah says that before the son, Immanuel, grows up those that oppose King Ahaz, the kings of Israel and Syria will be dead. Who was the young woman? Who was the Immanuel that Isaiah was speaking about? Some suggest it might have been his wife and his own son. But was it also Jesus?

All prophetic fulfilment happens in the life of the prophet, or in the future, or in both.

Within Joseph’s dream Matthew is describing to his readers that what happened in the year 740BC when God told Ahaz not to be afraid for God will step into the messy world is now happening again. The Immanuel born in 740BC would die but the one born to Mary is different. The previous Immanuel would save Judah but this Immanuel would save the whole world.

These are definitely tough times that we live in. For many Christmas will be tough this year more than at any other. Seven hundred years before the first Christmas Isaiah saw something which would have a greater fulfilment in Christ. God with us, Immanuel, will come and Matthew’s gospel will tell us he came to save the world through his death but he never stayed dead and he is very much alive today.

Your Christmas may be tough but during these tough days remember Immanuel has come, God’s rescue act, God with us. So dont be anxious even if you live uinder threat as God is with you.

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