God’s sense of time differs from ours. He looks to eternal causes while we often get caught up in the short term. The approach of Christmas is a good opportunity to study how God orchestrates events centuries before we witness the full unfolding of His plan.
For example, 700 years before Jesus appeared in the form of a vulnerable infant, the prophet Isaiah received a word about deliverance for God’s people. As Isaiah prayed in the temple, he received a vision for what was to come.
The historical context for this insight is important. Because the people of Judah rebelled against God, disaster loomed with the formation of enemy troops. Both Aram and Israel amassed on borders to invade Jerusalem.
Maybe you want to feel peace for the holiday, but forces threaten to overwhelm you too. Bills mount, health declines, and interpersonal communication plummets. Isaiah’s situation wasn’t pretty. God was angry with his people for bringing meaningless offerings (Isaiah 1:13) and plundering the poor (Isaiah 3:14-15).
These concerns exist today. Do we go through the motions of religious ritual, but our hearts remain hard? Like the descendants of Jacob, we choose whether or not to walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5).
Even in the middle of chaos, God invites His faithful to step out in faith and serve. “Whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6:8) Let us be like Isaiah and commit to counteract violence, hatred, and deceit with gentleness, kindness, and truth.
Isaiah advised King Ahaz to “be careful, keep calm and don’t lose heart” (Isaiah 7:4). No matter what obstacles we face, we too can be confident in God’s ability to save us.
The prophet also cautioned King Ahaz not to waiver. “If you do not stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). Are you determined to hold fast to God, no matter what?
When King Ahaz waffled, Isaiah prophesied: “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 NIV).
With the benefit of hindsight, we can connect the dots and see how God fulfilled that prophecy. However, Isaiah trusted God would do what He said he would. So should we, particularly when outcomes appear murky in this present moment.
Our strength comes through the knowledge Jesus didn’t stay a tiny, helpless baby. He is with us as a resurrected Lord with unlimited power. And with Him at our side, we can face every adversity.
Geography of Syro-Ephraimite War in 8th Century B.C.
Founders of the evangelistic movement with the Jesus Film Project compiled a list of 55 other Old Testament prophecies with their fulfillment. These can be viewed at
Photograph by Tracy L. Smoak