RZIM’s Amy Orr-Ewing did a great series of videos last year for the Advent season. The main motif is the kairos, which is the Greek word for time. It’s different from chronos, which refers to the time on your watch. Kairos is qualitative, and refers to important points in time that are pregnant with meaning and significance. They are appointed times when God intervenes in our world and accomplishes a purpose. The best example is when He sent His son, Jesus, into our world to become Savior and King.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah gave this prophecy not as a word of encouragement but as a rebuke of unbelief. The context provided by the chapter is that the Assyrians are invading Israel and trying to take Jerusalem. The king and the people are afraid and God promises King Ahaz that they will not succeed.
10 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying,
11 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.
Ahaz was trying to be clever and use God’s own word against much in the same way that Satan tried to twist scripture against Jesus during His temptation. I believe Ahaz knew better that asking for a sign as a condition of faith was prohibited but here the Lord was offering it to him and so it was okay. In spite of what Ahaz said he, in fact, was testing God’s patience.
Jumping forward to the ministry of Jesus we read that He was frustrated with the people because they wanted Him to perform miracles, saying,”Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). This was the proper application of the command that Ahaz was using as cover for not trusting God.
God requires us to trust and obey before we see a miracle. We want to see signs and wonders before we trust Him, maybe. Jesus said that the centurion had faith like no one in Israel because he did not need to see the healing to believe it.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.
2 Peter 1:19
Peter saw the miracles of Jesus’ ministry and I don’t think they can be matched by anyone in the Bible or human history. Yet, it was the word that was a more solid foundation for faith. Miracles, signs, emotional experience, all of these will fail us. You have to decide at the outset that God is trustworthy and commit yourself.
This hymn has become one of my favorites over the last few years. Since I was studying Latin during that time I am partial to this song because of its Latin roots. This song was originally song in Latin masses and eventually made its way to a wider audience.
In its original form, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” was known as a song of the “Great Antiphons” or “Great O’s.” The initial Latin text, framed in the original seven different verses, represented the different biblical views of the Messiah. One verse per day was sung or chanted during the last seven days before Christmas.
For the people of the Dark Ages—few of whom read or had access to the Bible—the song was one of the few examples of the full story of how the New and Old Testament views of the Messiah came together in the birth and life of Jesus. Because it brought the story of Christ the Savior to life during hundreds of years of ignorance and darkness, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” ranks as one of the most important songs in the history of the Christian faith.
The song owes its worldwide acceptance to a man named John Mason Neale. Born on January 24, 1818, this Anglican priest was educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. Brilliant, a man who could write and speak more than twenty languages, he should have been destined for greatness. Yet many feared his intelligence and insight. At the time, church leaders thought he was too evangelical, too progressive, and too much a freethinker to be allowed to influence the masses. So rather than get a pastorate in London, Neale was sent by the church to the Madiera Islands off the northwest coast of Africa…
Neale was an avid reader of anything related to the scriptures and came across the song in a Latin songbook. He translated it into English with the lyrics beginning with “Draw Nigh, Draw Nigh, Emmanuel.”
The tune that went with Neale’s translation had been used for some years in Latin text versions of the song. “Veni Emmanuel” was a fifteenth century processional that originated in a community of French Franciscan nuns living in Lisbon, Portugal. Neale’s translation of the lyrics coupled with “Veni Emmanuel” was first published in the 1850s in England. Within twenty-five years, Neale’s work, later cut to five verses and called “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” grew in popularity throughout Europe and America.
The first verse comes from Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Isaiah 11 is the inspiration for the verse describing Jesus as the rod of Jesse. Malachi 4:2 tells us that Jesus is the “sun of righteousness,” the Dayspring. The “Key of David” is found in Isaiah 22:22.
This hymn is a great musical source of biblical teaching. It condenses what the Old Testament tells us of the purpose of Jesus’ advent and ministry into seven verses. Just like how Jesus revealed to His disciples what the Law and the Prophets said about Him as they walked on the road to Emmaus so this hymn reveals Jesus’ manifold fulfillment of prophecy. He is truly Christ the Lord.