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Immanuel, God with us

English > Fields of Research > Biblical Theology

P. Rüst (2007), a Christmas message about Isaiah's Immanuel prophecy, 12 p.;
http://www.aneste.ch/files/Immanuel+.e.pdf (777 kB)
or without illustrations, text only, 7 p.:
http://www.aneste.ch/files/Immanuel-.e.pdf
(67 kB)
Translated from the German original, P. Rüst (2007), "Immanuel, Gott mit uns"
, Predigt Flüehli, Schwarzenburg (Schweiz), 12 S.


Contents:

1. Isaiah's Immanuel prophecy
2. Warning signs for rebels who might yet return to God
3. God's patient compassion
4. Judgment for refinement
5. The wondrous Immanuel
6. Messianic fulfilment 730 years later
7. Education out of love
8. The atheistic circular reasoning
9. God's restraint
10. God became man in order to take all suffering onto himself

What is the importance of Christmas? A Christmas tree and presents? No, but these point to God's light and salvation as a present by his becoming man in Jesus. How is this at all possible?

- God announced to Mary, and later to her fiancé Joseph, that she, being a virgin, was going to give birth to a son, as the Holy Spirit would come over her and the power of the Most High overshadow her. In this mystery, God becomes man in Jesus. Only a real but sinless human can, by his substitutionary sacrifice, bring about the propitiation for sinners.

 

- In the 8th century BC, the idolatrous king Ahaz of Judah was seeking the help of mighty Assyria when Ephraim and Aram threatened him, rather than return to God. Isaiah told him that he would be spared now, but the very power he tried to hire would later davastate Judah. Isaiah's sons "A remnant will return" and "Swift-booty speedy-prey" served as signs, as did the mysterious promise (without a time indication), that the virgin was going to give birth to a son, the "Immanuel".

- Despite Judah's hardening of heart God delayed his judgment for almost 150 years, in order to give the rebels a chance of returning. He allowed Judah to have two godly kings after his heart, Hezekiah and Josiah, and saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians in a spectacular way. But judgment, even exile, served Israel and Judah as a refinement. And this is true for the people of the Messiah from all nations.

- Whom did Isaiah designate as Immanuel? The sons of neither Isaiah nor Ahaz were eligible, as all of them were begotten in a natural way, and at least two of them were already born. But if Immanuel was to come much later only, all
statements match historical events and messianic fulfilments. The facts that the Messiah is both David's son and his Lord, that he nevertheless did not descend from the Davidic dynasty already judged, and that he therefore could not be Joseph's son, all fit this interpretation.

 

- God's love and justice are united in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus. Like a red thread, this is imprinted on God's salvation history. From the beginning, God knew that humans cannot be saved from sin and death in any other way. He revealed himself to humanity in an increasingly detailed manner, and messianic prophecies were clearly fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

- Those doubting God's word misuse the uncertainties in interpreting prophecies by claiming that all prophecies of future events were written after the fact, as no one could know the future. In an atheistic case of circular reasoning, they deny God's
ability to know the future. Accordingly, they invented a Deutero-Isaiah of 150 years later, a Daniel of 400 years later, and a Moses split into hundreds of fragments supposed to have been written up to 1000 years later. Not much of salvation history remained intact.

- Our
knowledge is partial. Even bibical difficulties must, at a deeper level, have a reason in God's love. This solves the problem of uncertainty. God has created humans as real personalities, capable of love, even with the freedom of turning him down. The problems of sickness, suffering, and death may be solvable in a similar way. By withholding miraculous help, God protects the freedom and dignity of humans, enabling them to be glorified in eternity in Jesus. God takes upon himself the sin of the world and all suffering. This is the reason for his becoming man, the purpose of suffering and the importance of Christmas.

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