Immanuel is a word you’ve likely seen on church signs. If you’ve been around church enough, it’s probably appeared in songs or on artwork or something. It’s a pretty common word in those circles. But don’t let that common use fool you.
God with us. That’s what it means. God with us. It’s a name for Jesus; it’s a promise and a prophecy. God among us, God alongside us, God in our midst, God as one of us. This is what we read in Isaiah 7. The people of Israel would see Immanuel born of a virgin (another miraculous sign all itself). What a promise!
What stands out, though, is where the promise is placed: right in the midst of trouble and devastation. God will be with you, though you face destruction and trial. Isaiah 8 tells us to wait with patience and hold fast to God as our sanctuary and to His Word as our Holy guide.
God promised to be with Israel. They were to trust in Him and rest in Him as a sanctuary even through times of great trial. God and His Word are the very things we find hope and peace in while we wait for Immanuel’s coming.
We wait like Israel waited. We too are strangers away from our home. They were attacked and exiled by the Assyrians, and we are foreigners on this earth waiting for Jesus to bring our home to us. We wait for freedom and redemption like they waited, and we wait in the same hope and in the same confidence in God, who is our sanctuary.
Our confidence comes from knowing that while we wait, Christ works. In this way we have an even greater confidence than Israel did. They had God’s prophets and promises, but we have those plus the assurance that Jesus is in heaven interceding on our behalf.
God is working while we are waiting. This truth is vital to our hope for the future and our life in the present. Our time waiting is for transformation, to be conformed to God’s will. How? Through faith, through trusting, through following His Word. Waiting for Immanuel’s return is not a passive killing of time but an active killing of sin—a pursuit of holiness so that while we live we reflect Him and when He returns we’re more like Him.
Written by Barnabas Piper