Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
The whirl of the Christmas season is upon us. Stores are decked with tinsel. Carols ring from every speaker. While we rush from one party to another, it is easy to lose sight of Christmas and the Christ it celebrates. Year after year, we promise to do less and reflect more, yet we rarely do. Let’s stop for a minute, lay aside the lists, and take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 to better understand Immanuel, God with us.
The Context of Isaiah 7:14
In Matthew 1:23, an angel appears to Joseph to proclaim, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.”These words are a direct quote from Isaiah 7:14 and are widely accepted as a prophecy of the coming Messiah.
Examining the original text reveals that these words likely have a dual fulfillment. It is not uncommon for Old Testament prophecies to predict events in the near future, with a second fulfillment taking place centuries later. Isaiah 7:14 is one such prophecy.
In this chapter, Isaiah has been called to deliver a promise to Ahaz, King of Judah. The northern territories of Israel have split from those in the south and have become allies with the nation of Aram. They are conspiring to attack Judah, home to Jerusalem and the remaining line of David. God, despite King Ahaz’s rebellion against him, has sworn to protect Judah and its people.
Verse Isaiah 7:10 recounts God as he invites Ahaz to ask for a sign, which the king refuses. God, then, offers a sign to the house of David, the lineage of Jesus. He promises that a virgin (or young woman in some translations) will conceive and give birth to a son. This prophecy continues to foretell the downfall of Judah’s enemies. It was fulfilled in Isaiah 8:2-4 and in the capture of Israel. Yet, the inclusion of these words by Matthew indicates that they also foreshadowed the birth of the Christ.
The Meaning of Isaiah 7:14
Rather than discuss the entire verse, I’d like to focus on one single word—Immanuel. In Hebrew, it translates into “God with us” or “with us is God.”
Imagine the impact this word must have had on Ahaz, Isaiah, and the nation of Judah. This is the dark before the dawn. They stand outnumbered, facing an imminent attack, when God saddles up beside them and whispers, “I am with you.” Though the enemy does not yet know it, the battle has been lost. God has entered the field; they are doomed.
Seven hundred years later, another battle loomed. It was not fought with swords and shields, nor would the victors claim lands for themselves. No, this war came quietly, witnessed only by a handful of shepherds one starry night.
The Messiah, promised in Genesis to Adam and Eve, had come. He came not as a mighty warrior, but as a servant. At his birth, a legion of angels attended him, not to conquer Israel or Rome, but to lay claim to hearts and rescue lives. Once again, God bent down and whispered, “I AM with you.”
This is the meaning of Isaiah 7:14 and of Christmas. God is with us.
How Isaiah 7:14 Applies to Your Life
Battles surround us—sick loved ones, natural disasters, past pains endured. Worries threaten to drown us. Often, we stand alone, struggling. If you are in that place today, I want to remind you that God stands beside you, whispering, “I am with you.”
As you move through this holiday season, and the new year beyond, I encourage you to create space every day to sit in silence and listen. Reflect on the words “God with us.” Meditate on the Isaiah 7:14 meaning. Remember the times God has been with you in the past and cling to his promise to be with you in the future.
Share this with someone today, and, if they are struggling, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Bring a meal, mow a lawn, shovel snow, babysit a neighbor’s children—reflect Jesus through your actions. And as the new year comes, continue to be the body of Christ. Whether it be January, March, or October, love your neighbor through spontaneous, meaningful acts of kindness. When we do this, our neighbors can experience Immanuel in their lives. Perhaps, then, they will hear God whisper, “I am with you.”
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