Monday, December 27, 2021

Coming Messiah #3, Birth of the Saviour - Isaiah 7:14

Coming Messiah #3, Birth of the Saviour - Isaiah 7:14

There is a real old and not very good joke, that still works as an introduction to our sermon today. So even thought it is old and not that good, I’m going to tell it anyway. After all those reasons haven’t stopped me in the past so why should I worry about them today. The joke goes, a man was pulled over by a police officer. The cop walks up to the door and tells the driver, “Sir, I pulled you over because you ran that stop sign back there? Didn’t you see the sign?” The man honestly replied, “Yes, officer. I saw the sign but I didn’t see you.”

And that brings us to our text Isaiah 7:14 where God gives a sign, to the whole world and the whole world sees the sign, every year that sign is celebrated, but though they see the sign, the don’t see God.

The Storm - Isaiah 7:1-2

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind.

The Storm of Syria

The raider nation of Assyria was growing stronger and stronger, threatening the security and peace of all the other surrounding nations. To counter this threat, Israel and Syria, formed and alliance. When they approached Judah, the southern Kingdom to join them, Judah refused. This may sound like an action of faith but in reality, the scornful King of Judah, Ahaz was secretly negotiated with Assyria for his own protection, as we read in 2 Kings 16:1–9. He wasn’t looking to God for help, he was looking to the enemies of God.

So Syria and Israel, the northern kingdom, went up to make war against Jerusalem. The Bible says that this threat of defeat made the king and the people’s heart to move like the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. A terrible storm was blowing, and the King and people of Jerusalem were directly in the path of the storm.

The Storms of Satan

God’s people, whether they be in the Old Testament or the New Testament, are always in the path of Satan’s storms, the world’s whirlwinds and hate’s hurricanes. It was true for Jerusalem in the days of Ahaz and its true today.

Jesus warned us so that we would understand why and when it happens.

John 15:18-25 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

The reason the lost world hates us is because they hated Jesus and the reason, they hate Jesus is because He tore away their covering cloak and their sin is exposed. Jesus words and works exposed their sin and they hate Him. They hate Him and because we belong to him and serve Him then they hate us. It cannot be any other way. If we are truly God’s people then our words, reflect His words and expose their sin. Our works, as we serve the Lord, uncover their corruption and they stand guilty with no way to hide their iniquity.

Let me give you some examples of Satan stirring up storms against God’s people.

Examples: From 1989 – 2017 in the United states there were over 20 violent attacks against churches by homosexuals, LGBTQ activists.

Churches are being bombed, burnt to the ground and Christians around the world are being beaten by mobs, jailed by governments and ridiculed and hated by Muslims, Hindus, communists, socialists, atheists, leftists and liberals.

If you do an internet search on the most persecuted religion you will find, year after year, that Christianity is number one and Judaism is number two. If you internet search all the way back to the time of the Roman empire, you will still find the same.

I never thought I would see in our nation, Christian churches and businesses being shut down, bakers, florists, wedding planners and churches being sued by LGBTQ, homosexual activists try to sue in order to shut them down or bankrupt them. Orthodox Jews are being beaten in broad daylight on the sidewalks of New York city. And in almost all these cases the city, state and federal government tends to be on the side of the persecutors and the media refused to report or acknowledge it.

We may not be facing an invading Syrian army, but we are facing an invading army of the worst kind of sinful perversion and hate. The storm is blowing and I can identify with the people of Jerusalem. Our nation, our families, our children our churches are in the path of Satan’s storms and we always have been.

That’s enough depressing illustrations, I’m not even going to talk about Covid-19 or all the other personal storms of Satan that we face. This is a Christmas message so lets get to some hope.

What are God’s people to do during such anxious, stressful, fearful times? Old Testament or New, the answer is the same. Look to the Lord and listen to His word. He always has a message of hope. This is even the case with King Ahaz.

The Surety - Isaiah 7:3-9

Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it,and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin;and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Syria Shall not Stand

God sent Isaiah and his son to meet King Ahaz while the ruler was inspecting the Jerusalem water supply probably in preparation for an upcoming war. God gave Isaiah a message of hope, of deliverance from the present oppression.

He tells him not to be afraid, for within sixty-five years the two nations outside Jerusalem would be broken and no longer a threat. This was fulfilled when Assyria defeated Syria (Damascus) in 732, and then Israel (aka Ephraim, Samaria) in 721, both within the allotted time given.

Now in vs. 9 is the phrase that we need to key in this section. Isaiah 7:9 If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Believe it, God’s prophecy was going to happen, no matter what Ahaz did or what he believed, but he and the nation would not be established unless they did believe it. One commentary says this phrase is a play on the word fast and would read it like this, “If Judah did not hold fast to its God, it would lose its fast hold by losing its country, - Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 7:138.

Standing On the Promises

The application of this verse to our lives is the basic tenet of the Bible and of our relationship to God. It all comes down to faith. It is expressed here in the negative, “If you will not believe, you will not be established.” If you will not stand on God’s promises, you will not be able to stand at all.”

Your faith or lack of faith does not hinder God’s sovereign will, but if you are to share in the blessings of God’s then you must enter into God’s will and stay in God’s will through faith.

Faith in God’s word, His promises is the only sure way to find peace in the midst of the raging storm and the attacks of Satan and this world. Later in the book Isaiah writes, Isaiah 26:3-4 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

The principle of faith is given throughout the Bible and we hear its message distinctly in the pages of the New Testament.

1 John 5:4-5 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

The most quoted verse in the New Testament from the Old Testament is Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. It’s quoted in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. The just shall live by faith.

Faith in God, faith in the promises of God, are the only way we can stand when the storms of life and the attacks of this world begin. Have faith and you will stand.

Hymns always come to mind when I’m preparing my sermons and when I did a search for hymns about faith, well you can imagine, the number was more than I could have read in a week. One online source the I use frequently came up with around 5000 hymn that were about faith. You could fill about 5 big hymnals with just songs about faith. That is indicative of how vital faith is to our life and our walk with God. In the past few years one of those hymns has really been close to my heart. I heard it first during the start of the Covid pandemic and we’ve sung it dozens of times since then. It was written around 1750 by a woman in German named Kathrina Von Schlegel of whom we know almost nothing. It was translated a hundred years later in 1855 by a Scots woman named Jane Borthwick. The music was composed in 1900 as part of a symphony by a Finish composer named Jean Sibelius. All of that had to come together to give us the beautiful hymn, “Be Still My Soul.”

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; your best, your heav’nly friend through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past;
your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know his voice who ruled them while he lived below.

Now we come to the final verses of our sermon today and the heart of the Coming Messiah prophecies from Isaiah.

The Sign - Isaiah 7:10-16

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

A Son called Immanuel

When Isaiah asks King Ahaz to ask God for a sign, the King tries to act pious, very humble and he refuses. Isaiah just told him, “Ask a sign from the Lord your God, ask it from the depths of Sheol or the heights of Heaven. Ask it and the Lord will show you.” But Ahaz refused not because he did not want to test the Lord, but because he really didn’t believe the Lord and did not want to deal with the Lord.

Ahaz refuses a sign, but Hezekiah requests one - The son of Ahaz was one of the great Kings of Judah, Hezekiah who all his life had ot stand against the storm of Assyrian invasion. When he got sick with a deadly disease, Isiah come and told him, “The Lord has said this sickness will be your death.” Isaiah response was what a child of God does during times like this, he prayed and put his trust in God. God heard his pray, turned Isaiah around and then told Hezekiah, “The Lord has added 15 years to your life.” Do you know what Hezekiah did then? He asked for a sign! Perhaps because he remembered when Isaiah had offered his father a sign and his wicked father had refused. In 2 Kings 20:8-11 And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.

Did you catch all that? He was given a sign from heaven and it was confirmed on the sundial of his father who refused a sign. The shadow of the sun dial built by his father went backward 10 degrees or 10 minutes. Did the Lord stop the earth and turn it backwards 10 degrees? I don’t know, he could have but he also could have bent the light of the sun and made the sundial go back 10 minutes. Perhaps an angel stood in the son with a giant mirror, doesn’t matter how God did it. The point is Hezekiah believed the promise and God confirmed that faith with a sign.

Ahaz is too good, to ask for a sign and Isaiah’s response is harsh, “Isaiah 7:13 Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?”

So, then the Lord turned from Ahaz and instead of giving him a sign, he gives it to the entire house of David and through the house of David the sign is given to us. Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

See the Sign, See the Savior

This sign may have had a first fulfillment in Isaiah and a yet new wife and unborn son, and it is not uncommon for God to give a prophecy that has a double fulfillment. Scripture is full of such prophecies. But the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 as we all know so well, was in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Jesus, whose name was given by the Angel, was born of the Virgin Mary, conceived by the miracle of the Holy Spirit so that the creator of all, became a creature of that creation.

Luke 1:31-35 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

This ultimate sign from God, the sign of Immanuel meant that God would be with us. Jesus whose name means “Jehovah is Salvation” was God come in human flesh, living on this earth without sin and then dying for us on the cross of Calvary and taking on our sin, to pay the price for justification and redemption.

The Hymn “One Day” isn’t a carol, but it tells this story, it tells the Gospel.

One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!

Refrain - Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely, forever;
One day He’s coming: O glorious day!

That is the Gospel, that is the Sign of Immanuel, and yes, God is still with us. God bent all of time and history to focus on the fulfillment of that sign on the day Jesus was born. Israel for hundreds of years prayed and waited for Immanuel, their Messiah to come. And when He came all of time and history was altered. The world could no longer be the same for Immanuel changed everything.

Conclusion: He is still changing everything.

Do you realize that messiah’s coming is still changing everything? It is still changing everything because it is not yet over. There is still more of Isaiah prophecy to see fulfillment.

Jesus came as a babe on that long ago night and the first coming of Messiah was fulfilled. That was the First Advent. Still to come is the final coming of Messiah as King who will rule the whole earth from the throne of David. That will be the Second Advent. And yet there is one more coming of the Messiah and without that advent, the first and second mean nothing.

Jesus must come, this time to you, not in a manger and not in the clouds but into your heart. You must believe. Your eternity depends on this personal coming of Jesus. You must believe the sign, not a star in the heaven, not the heaven’s rolled back like a scroll but the sign of heaven given in God’s word.

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Does that sound a lot like Isaiah 7:9 If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

Do you need to stand when the woe of this world, the sin of this world, the pain and sorrow of this world is trying to knock you down? Then believe, put your faith in the word and promises of God. Immanuel truly is with us and we need faith. God has given us the sign now it is up to us to see the Messiah beyond the sign, believe and stand fast.

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