Thursday, December 1, 2016

Day One: God's Far-Reaching Plans (Isaiah 7:14-17)

Hey all! I'm following the December Scripture Writing Plan schedule, and today is my first post! December 1st starts off with Isaiah 7:14-17:

"14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 The LORD will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father's house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah - the king of Assyria." (ESV)

This is a fairly complicated passage in a lot of ways. I've read several commentaries about it, but in the interest of simplicity, I'm focusing on how this scripture illustrates God's long-reaching plans for our lives. (For a really good, detailed overview of this whole passage, check out A Call for Faith and the Sign of the Immanuel by Dr. Allen Ross.)

God's long-reaching plans for our lives.As a girl growing up in a church, I always viewed the Bible as fairly condensed. It was easy to flip from the last page of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) to the first page of Matthew (the first book of the Old Testament), so I assumed it was a brief break between the two books - 50 or 60 years at most (which seemed like an eternity as a young child). I had learned about the Messianic prophecies, but didn't think it was that big of a deal. Maybe Isaiah talked about Jesus one hundred years before his birth, right? It wasn't until high school that I realized that Isaiah (and many of the prophets towards the end of the Old Testament) wrote numerous things about the upcoming birth and life of Jesus hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus' actual birth. 

It is estimated there is 700 years between Isaiah's predictions about Jesus and Jesus' actual birth, so that would be like if someone in 1316 wrote a book predicting someone's birth this week! At moments, the scope of God's power and plans seems unfathomable to me.

When reading for Christmas, it is easy to start at the beginning of the New Testament, but I love that this reading plan starts in Isaiah. For me, I am humbled by how far-reaching God's plan is. Jesus didn't just appear. Instead, God had this incredible plan that was being put into motion over centuries. I sometimes question God's plan when He doesn't do what I want in a six-month span!

So what do we get from this passage? What struck me most is that although Isaiah predicted the birth of Jesus, God didn't give a timeline. 

So often, we want detailed timelines from God. How many months will I wait? How many more cancer treatments before I'm in remission? How many churches will I visit before I can find one that is home? How many years of trying for a baby? We want alll the details.

I can't even imagine how God's people felt waiting. God had shared that he would provide a sign of His love for us in the form of Jesus, but he didn't tell them exactly how many years to wait. 

And yet, 700 years after Isaiah spoke and 400 years after the end of Malachi, a baby is born in a manger. And the entire world would change.

We have to hold onto God's future promises. Don't let the Enemy tell you that waiting means God doesn't care or isn't around. I'm sure there were times where God's people cried out, "Where are you?," but He was there. There was a plan, and it's important to remind ourselves that just because His plans are sometimes not obvious, it does not mean God isn't working. Waiting is one of the most difficult things we do as humans, but God, in his wisdom, always has a greater, longer plan than we can imagine. 

Christmas is a beautiful time for some, but for others, it is difficult. It means the anniversary of the death of someone you love, or waiting for the test results to tell you if you are sick, or struggling financially and wondering how you'll pay your heating bill this month. 

Remember, that as difficult as it feels in this moment, God is there. He was there in the 700 years between Isaiah's foreshadowing and Jesus' actual birth. He is there in those few moments when you are waiting for a life-changing phone call. He is there throughout your whole life, and in the day-to-day stresses. 

He is Immanuel: God with us. All of us.

1 comment:

  1. Waiting is not wasting. Any time spent with God, even if it's just sitting at His feet and waiting, is never wasted. In the quiet is where we hear, "Be still and know that I am God."

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