We will be turning to Isa 7:14 in just a minute.
I am in a sermon series on prophesies fulfilled in the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all the Old Testament prophesies related to the Messiah in His life, death and resurrection. This is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent means “waiting.” Throughout the Old Testament they were waiting on a Savior. They were waiting on Jesus.
While waiting in a Nazi prison cell in 1943 a few weeks before Advent, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a friend, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
Shortly after penning those words, the Nazis executed Bonhoeffer. But he was right: the door of freedom for him and for us today is still opened from the outside by the coming and second coming of Jesus Christ.
God became a human to save us.
I read of a Hindu who could not believe in Christianity because he could not contemplate a God who would be so humble himself. Then one day the Hindu came upon an anthill. He tried to get close enough to it to study it, but every time he bent low, his shadow caused all the ants to scurry away. He recognized to himself that the only way in which he could ever come to know that colony of ants would be if he could somehow become an ant himself. And that was the moment at which his conversion began.
Let’s jump into the passages for today.
My theme is:
Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be born some 700 years later.
Since God is with us we do not have to fear.
- Let us look at the prophetic passage in the Scriptures:
- Isaiah 7:14: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
- I need to give you some brief context about this passage as that will help you understand it more fully.
- Isaiah was called a major prophet in the Old Testament not because he was greater than all the others but because he wrote more content than many others. Isaiah prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom. Many of you may know that Israel was divided.
- Isaiah’s ministry lasted over 60 years and he served under wicked kings as well as godly kings. Ahaz was the current king.
- During this time, there was another kingdom called Assyria trying to advance on the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Assyria will eventually defeat the Northern Kingdom. It was truly a sad time period.
- Understand that this is the backdrop by which Isaiah ministered for the Lord.
- In Isaiah 7:10, Isaiah asks king Ahaz to ask for a sign from the Lord.
- In Isaiah 7:12 Ahaz told Isaiah “no.”
- So, in Isaiah 7:14 the Lord responds with a sign.
- “A virgin will be with child…” in some translations it might say, “maiden” instead of “virgin.” To put it simply the Hebrew word is translated maiden. This does mean a young woman who is not sexually active. An interesting thing is that in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same passage is translated more consistent to our word virgin and Matthew 1:23 references the Greek version of this passage.
- I believe there are two obvious applications to this verse:
- The first is the child will be Maher-shalal-hash-baz ( 8:1, 3)who is the son of Isaiah. Or, some suggest, the son of Ahaz who will be Hezekiah, or someone else during Isaiah’s day.
- The second is that this passage applies to Jesus. Matthew’s Gospel applies this passage to Jesus and given what Isaiah 9:6-7 is written about we know that this must apply to Jesus.
- Do you realize that Isaiah was writing about 700 years prior to Christ? As I have said in the past few weeks God had a plan. This is not just any old plan either.
- Deut 18:22: If what a prophet proclaims in the name of theLord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
- That is not the case here. This is being fulfilled. This is from the Lord. This is the prophesy.
- But now, notice that He is to be called Emmanuel and this means: God with us. Think about the awesome ramifications in this passage. God came down to be one of us.
- This is what sets us apart as Christ followers! What sets us apart as Christians is that God became one of us, but I would even go further than that. God didn’t only become one of us. God is still one of us and also God was not only with us for a time, God is still with us. Do we realize this? Think about it, God is with you. He lives with you. Remember the song we sing at Easter time? “You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!” God lives with you.
- The prophesy is fulfilled in Jesus.
- Matthew 1:23:“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
- Now, let’s watch the account of this in the Movie: The Nativity Story:
- In this location the angel is talking with Joseph. Joseph is told that Jesus’ birth will fulfill an Old Testament prophesy, specifically that a virgin will give birth to a son. I think that most of you know the story. Jesus’ mother, Mary, is the virgin. She is pledged or engaged to be married to Joseph. Everything was going well for this couple, but now things are dramatically changing. They are changing for our good, but it will not immediately be easier for Jesus’ mother and father. I have a daughter and if 6 years from now, when she is 14 she comes home and sits her mother and I down to talk and then proceeds to tell us that she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit, we would be skeptical. Yet, that is what happens here. Joseph is going to break off the engagement quietly. I hope you realize that by the Jewish law she could be stoned because this appeared to be adultery. But I think you know the rest of the story. In this passage an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and the angel confirms what is happening here is of God. Joseph takes Mary as his wife and Jesus is born.
- The child is Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
- S. Lewis wrote: The Son of God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.
- An atheist and a Christian were engaged in an intense public debate. On the blackboard behind the podium the atheist printed in large capital letters, “GOD IS NOWHERE.” When the Christian rose to offer his rebuttal, he rubbed out the W at the beginning of where and added that letter to the preceding word no. Then the statement read, “GOD IS NOW HERE.”
- God does not sleep or grow weary: Psalm 121: A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
- At one time I heard Pastor Tony Evans share an amazing story about this idea of God with us. You see he was on a cruise ship. It was a cruise for those that listen to his radio program. The cruise was in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Alaska and the cruise ship ran into some heavy seas. The seas were really rough, 35-40 foot waves. This was really bad. People were vomiting, things were moving around and so on. After so long a time of dealing with this Pastor Evans’ wife got unhappy about it and decided to call the Captain. She was unhappy as the captain knew they were heading into a storm and still decided to do so. He couldn’t stall or reroute as the captain had a schedule to meet. He had to be at a certain dock in order to pick up customers for another cruise. But Pastor Evans’ wife felt somewhat responsible as those on the cruise were there for Pastor Evans’ ministry. So, she calls the captain and the second to the captain calls her back. He says, “The captain wants you to do two things: First, the captain wants you to go to sleep. Second, you can go to sleep because I will be staying awake. I, the captain, will be staying awake to pilot the ship through the storm.”Psalm 121 says that our God never sleeps or slumbers. This passage is saying that God is with us. That is great. Like the captain, He is with us and He is awake guiding us through the storms of life.
- So, do you realize the very special significance of that? Nowhere in the Bible does it say that there will not be any storms in life. But you know what God is with us. God is with us in the storms.
- Now, I don’t want to miss the initial importance in this passage, Jesus came and lived a life as God with us. Jesus died for our sins and then rose again. So, Jesus is still alive and He sent His Holy Spirit to live with us now and that is why He is still with us today.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- So, if the Holy Spirit is with us meaning that God is with us, we must live like He is with us: John 6:35: 35 Then Jesus declared,“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
- The other thing is that if we are living in sin and if we are not seeking God in spiritual disciplines then we are not welcoming God to be with us. Welcome Him in and rejoice because Christ came and He lives with us today.
Think about these applications:
- God with us means that He cares about us.
- God with us means that we are never alone.
- God with us means that we don’t have to worry about the future, He is with us.
- God with us means that the creator of all can also be with His creation.
- God with us means that we have the architect of creation with us.
- God with us means that if He is with us He can support and guide us.
- God with us means that He can and has communicated to us.
- We must live with an understanding of this awesome Truth that God is with us.
- We must live with an application of this awesome truth that God is with us.
- We must live allowing God through Jesus to soothe our needs as He is with us.
So, Jesus came, God came and lived among us, He died for us, in our place, but He rose again and He is still with us. Praise God.
A woman was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before.
Her arms were full of bulky packages when an elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load.
As the doors closed, she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!”
A few others nodded theirs heads or grunted in agreement.
Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator, came a single voice that said: “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”
Confess, Believe, trust, commit: Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, (Touchstone, 1997), page 416
 Bruce Thielemann, “Glory to God in the Lowest,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 75.
 C S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Christianity Today, Vol. 38, no. 14.
 Vernon Grounds, Radical Commitment. Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 7.
 Homiletics (November/December 2006), Volume 18; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky