Musings from a promise-collector

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Imagine living in Israel over 2,000 years ago. Your husband works hard to make a living farming, but sometimes the ground is so unforgiving. When you are not tending to the children, you are weaving garments to sell at the local market. It isn’t much, but every little bit helps. But you are thankful for all that the Lord provides. After all, He has provided for your people for centuries. Sure, there were times of darkness and hardship, but the Lord has always come through for your people. He has given you the land you live in, the Promised Land. He has sent judges, prophets, and kings to guide, direct, and lead. However, it has been a long time since He sent a prophet.You are starting to wonder if the Lord forgot about His people.

Then there’s all these rules that you need to follow, things that the Pharisees say will please the Lord and therefor bring deliverance. If everyone follows all the laws and rules that the Lord gave to Moses, and then some, then He just simply must pay attention and send His deliverer to save everyone. You want to please the Lord, you want to do good, but some of the rules are so difficult and are making life harder.

Plus, the required trips to the temple in Jerusalem gets harder and harder to make each year, especially now that your donkey has a bad leg so you cannot pull a cart for the children to ride in. When you do go to the temple, you make your required sacrifice, and wait in the Court of the Women while your husband goes into the Court of Israel to pray. You wish that you could encounter this living God, but you know that there is no way to, especially as a woman.

He has promised that a Messiah will come some day – and you hope so much that you will live to see that day. But you wonder some days if that will happen. You want to believe that the Lord is going to send the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah promised He would – he said that He will be called Immanuel, God with us. “God with us,” you think, standing in the open air of the courtyard. What would this God be like? Would He be a warrior like the great King David? He would definitely be wise, like King Solomon. And certainly He would free your people from the oppression of the nations around you, especially Rome. You are quickly brought back to your surroundings in the courtyard when a sacrificial sheep who just got loose runs bleating by you, the man who just purchased it chasing after it.

God with us… you ponder a bit more what that will look like. Well, whatever it looks like, it will be a good thing, of that you are certain. “Send him quickly, Lord,” you pray silently, as you see your husband coming to find you. Time to make the long journey back home.

*      *      *      *      *

Thankfully, we do not have to wonder – we know. When Jesus came to earth, He dwelt among His people to be “God with us.”  And His death opened the door for us to have a personal relationship with God. When He gave up His life on the cross, the curtain in the temple ripped from top to bottom, opening the way for all to come into the Holy of Holies, which had been reserved for the High Priest to enter only once a year. But because of that act we can go to Jesus all day every day. Then He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) The word that Paul uses here for temple is “naos” which is the Greek word for Holy of Holies. We aren’t just the Outer Courts, or the Holy Place. We are the Holy of Holies, the place where God’s spirit dwelt in the temple! God truly is with us when He resides in us as His Holy of Holies place.


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