In any time, but especially in the time of war, there are days of darkness and gloom interspersed with days when we think we can see victory within reach. Ahaz, king of Judah, was in that position at the time of this prophecy. Isaiah was there to hold him up in a time of trial. I was born just a year before our active involvement in World War II and can barely remember anything about that time. My only memory is of the blackouts that took place every night at a specific time in our city, which was about 200 miles inland from the Atlantic coast and New York City. Actually, the only memory I have is of an evening when my mother warned me to go upstairs and get ready for bed before the electricity was turned off. Just as I started toward the stairs the lights went out. The only time I have been in a place darker than that night was when someone turned out the lights in Howe Caverns near Albany, New York. I could not walk to the stairs but could only drop to the floor and crawl to where I thought the stairs were. After crawling under the dining room table and through several chair legs I bumped into the wall and turned left and crawled until I could feel the bannister rails of the stairs. I then crawled up the stairs and into the bedroom where we slept. I must have been 3 or 4 years old at the time.
That was a dark time for our nation and a dark time for me personally. Ahaz was in a dark time and refused to ask the Lord God for a sign when the Lord told him to do so. Then Isaiah took Ahaz to task for his unwillingness to ask for a sign from God after God had told Ahaz to do so. Isaiah had given Ahaz a warning from the Lord and encouraged Ahaz and all Judah to stand firm in their faith. This was apparently seen as a lack of faith on the part of Ahaz and Judah and, because of it, they lost out on a blessing from God. This prophecy was given and included information about what would happen to the nations around them that were plotting against them. They did not stand firm in their faith so all suffered because of it.
Centuries later, Matthew would quote this verse (1:23), and remind his readers that “Immanuel” means “God with us.” God could have come down to us as a full-grown man, but incredibly He came as a helpless baby, dependent on human parents. Then He grew up to change the world. How thankful we are that God is with us!
Prayer: Dear God of the universe, Thank you that you are still Immanuel, God with us today.