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DEVOTIONAL + INSIGHT: Christmas Presence – ODB 2 December 2020

Christmas Presence – ODB Devotional + Insight: 2 December 2020

Christmas Presence - ODB Devotional + Insight: 2 December 2020

Christmas Presence

By James Banks for ODB

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son. 

Isaiah 7:14

Read: Isaiah 7:10–14

Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 42–44; 1 John 1

“No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.” Those words from Phillips Brooks’ much-loved hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” point to the very heart of Christmas. Jesus came into our broken world to rescue us from our sin and give all who would put their faith in Him a new and vital relationship with God.

In a letter to a friend decades after he wrote the hymn, Brooks poignantly described the outcome of this relationship in his own life: “I cannot tell you how personal this grows to me. He is here. He knows me and I know Him. It is no figure of speech. It is the realest thing in the world, and every day makes it realer. And one wonders with delight what it will grow to as the years go on.”

Brooks’ calm assurance of God’s presence in his life reflects one of the names of Jesus prophesied by Isaiah: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The gospel of Matthew gives us the meaning of the Hebrew name Immanuel: “God with us” (1:23).

God drew near to us through Jesus so we could know Him personally and be with Him forever. His loving presence with us is the greatest gift of all.

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What does it mean to you that God loves you so much He wants to be with you always? How will you draw near to Him today?

Reflect and Pray

Loving God, thank You for giving Yourself to me through Your life on earth, death on the cross, and resurrection. Please help me to live for You today and forever!


The book of Isaiah is the second most referenced Old Testament book (after Psalms) in the New Testament, with about sixty-six direct quotations and 348 allusions to it. While Isaiah 7:14 finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus (Matthew 1:22–23), some scholars believe the prophecy was first fulfilled at the time of Isaiah. Around 734 bc, an Israel-Syria military alliance attacked Judah. Isaiah 7:14 is a promise and a sign given to the faithless King Ahaz of Judah that God would destroy this alliance. The sign tells of two events. First, a specific “virgin” (Hebrew ʿalmâ, meaning “young woman of marriageable age”) would conceive and bear a son to be called Immanuel. Second, the threat from this enemy alliance would end before the child was weaned (vv. 15–16). According to this view, this sign was fulfilled in 2 Kings 16:7–9 within two years after it was given (732 bc).

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