In trying to get into the spirit of Christmas, I’ve started reading some key “Christmas” passages as part of my devotional reading each day. I decided to start in the book of Isaiah, beginning with chapter 7. I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for the book of Isaiah since my trip to Israel this past summer. This book is so full of Jesus it’s incredible. Something about walking where he walked and being among his chosen people really helped me understand the anticipation and longing that surrounded the birth of this child. The Jewish people had been earnestly waiting and watching for their Messiah for over 400 years. Here in Isaiah 7, God first promises a sign of deliverance to King Ahaz:
[The Sign of Immanuel]
 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,  “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”  And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.  For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.  The LORD will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”
(Isaiah 7:10-17 ESV)
One of the coolest things about Isaiah is being able to see prophecies like this one fulfilled later on in the New Testament. This particular prophecy is fulfilled here in Matthew 1:21-23:
 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
(Matthew 1:20-23 ESV)
You can imagine the kind of excitement and relief the announcement of the fulfillment of this prophecy must have brought those who believed. Roman oppression was at it’s peak, and the Jewish people were desperate for deliverance. Furthermore, you can imagine their surprise, when their promised “Messiah” shows up as a crying baby. God chose to send his Kingdom to earth in the form of an infant. But that’s a blog post for another day.