Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Last year one of the subjects making up the second year course of study for my BD at the University of Glasgow was Texts and Cultures of the Bible. We were fortunate to have a specialist guest lecturer leading the middle section, which examined the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. These lectures were delivered with passion and began to unlock and reveal the richness of the relationship between these collections of texts and the importance of the Old Testament in the New. For the exam that took place in May, Isaiah 7:14 was one of many verses that I had decided to cite as evidence, as it is clearly echoed in Matthew 1:23.
Here in Isaiah 7:14 we have a prophetic verse filled with information and action that draws a line in the sand given the impact this future event will have. A sign will be given, the virgin will conceive and then give birth a son, he will be called Immanuel. Isaiah starts the clock, the waiting and the anticipation begins but for how long? O come, O come, Emmanuel. Like Israel we have been pleading these words over the past weeks. They do so with hope to be free, willing these words of Isaiah to become real. We however do so with certainty that this is a prophecy fulfilled. We do so in the knowledge that Isaiah’s Immanuel comes and brings light to the darkness of our broken world.
Such a clear relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament shows us and reminds us that we are part of a bigger narrative than the one we often associate with. So in the times when we cannot work it out, wonder why and plead to be set free we have to accept God’s plan and purpose for us. But of course we can do so in the certain knowledge that “God is with us”.
The time of waiting is drawing to a close. The time of rejoicing approaches. The time of joy is nearly upon us when we can celebrate Isaiah’s words in Matthew 1:23; knowing they have been fulfilled.
God of time and space,
Past, present and future – you have all things in hand.
Flood this world with the light Christ brings so that all know you are with us.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
David Scott is an ordinand at the Scottish Congregational & United Reformed Church College and is reading for a degree in Theology at the University of Glasgow.