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The “Immanuel” Challenge—Isaiah 7:14-17

Forget for a moment that Isaiah’s words about a child named Immanuel are a prophecy concerning baby Jesus. Realize that they’re also part of the historical account of Ahaz, who was king over God’s people 700 years before Jesus. If we understand what “Immanuel” meant to Ahaz we can make sense of the word when it shows up on our Christmas cards.

Ahaz lived in lonely fear. Powerful kings had set out to at...

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topical studies

The Branch: The One True Christmas Tree

Imagine a tree in ancient Israel. The wilderness is dry and often barren. Life can’t be found just anywhere. Trees are rare, but where they exist they are essential to life. Their branches provide shade for the weary, fruit for the hungry, and a home for all kinds of creatures.

Now think of the branch as a metaphor. More than you and I need actual branches, we need what they represent: shelter from life’s evils; streng...

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