December 22, 2019: God With Us

Fourth Sunday of Advent

As we come together on this fourth Sunday of Advent, many have already moved mentally and emotionally into full Christmas mode. After all, Christmas Eve is only two days away. Still there is time to have a last look at God’s people in the time of Isaiah and experience our connection to them. The armies of Aram and Ephraim are knocking at the gates of Jerusalem. King Ahaz, fearing for his very life, is desperate for a word of hope. Isaiah, speaking as God’s prophet, assures Ahaz that Jerusalem is not about to be destroyed; but Ahaz is not convinced.

So God speaks directly to Ahaz, telling him to ask for whatever sign he desires. Amazingly, foolish Ahaz declines; but God is not deterred and speaks the words of promise that bring us to this season: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel [God with us].”

The people waited many years for the fulfillment of those precious words; and in the psalms written long before that, we hear the yearning for a shepherd to lead God’s people. That kind of waiting for something long desired and expected is central to Advent. While we daily live the promise fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we await his coming again.


Judith Justice, retired pastor
Winston-Salem, North Carolina