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

Theologians place the writings of Isaiah around 600 years before Jesus Christ, Immanuel, was born. This period of time makes us realize that God does not always rush things. He has his own timetable, and like everything God does, His timing is perfect.

In Isaiah 7, we find that Judah was in a state of war with Israel and Aram. Isaiah the prophet tells King Ahaz that Judah would not be invaded by her enemies in that particular war. He gives the word of the Lord: “It will not take place, it will not happen…”  Isaiah says more about this war, and then transitions to something that would occur in the far future. Before he does this, though, he touches on the patience required of men. He says, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign…”  And what is this sign?– that the virgin would conceive and give birth to a son, and He would be called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).

Immanuel, meaning “God with us,” took its fulfillment in the birth of Christ (see Matt. 1:21-22). Yes, roughly around 600 years after Isaiah’s pronouncement.

Patience for the promise. This is one where character is tested, but also where we can say, “God, you promised!” When God gives us a promise, we can hold on to that, no matter how long it takes for the promise to be fulfilled. What is at stake is not really our abilities to get things done—although at times, God does require us to move in faith and believe. But really, more than anything else, what is at stake is the character of God.

When a promise is made by the Author and Finisher of our faith, God becomes the spotlight of our next set of expectations. We start asking: is God indeed a fulfiller of His promises? Is He faithful to do what He says? Is He good? Is God truly MY God of hope? Is He truly MY God of love? Will God remember His promise to me?

It sounds so much like God that when His people are in a state of war or a state of hopelessness, He gives a word to strengthen us, making us see that He STILL has good plans for us. Sometimes, His plans are not fulfilled in our lifetime. Sometimes, in His goodness, it takes beyond one generation to see His promises fulfilled. I believe that God does this because He longs to show Himself to more than one generation. He wants to reveal Himself—His love, His goodness, His faithfulness—to many who come after us. He wants to be to our children the same Person as He is with us. Being the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,  He is a generational God who makes promises and fulfills promises.

Many times, God’s promises go contrary to what our eyes see and ears hear. If we think back to the story of the patriarch Abraham, we can see that even if a barren womb and old age were present, these did not stop the Creator of men from fulfilling His promise. God gave Abraham and Sarah their son, Isaac. And then, since God promised descendants to Abraham that were as numerous as the stars, then definitely, our God was looking beyond one generation for its fulfillment. (The fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham is STILL ongoing as the Jews, the seed of Abraham, are still multiplying to this day.)

Promises do not hinge on circumstance. They hinge on God’s faithfulness.

As this year draws to a close, it is good to remember the promises of God. It is also good to thank Him for His faithfulness. Circumstances do not define us. Let us believe what God says, and trust His heart as we wait for Him to fulfillment His promises toward us.