Summary: Heaven came down for us, and salvation was given to us. God came to dwell with us, and within us, and with all mankind. We are no longer in bondage of sin and death, and we are no longer alone. God is with us.

The Hope of Presence

Isaiah 7:7-14

Today we will meditate on one of the most famous and loved messianic prophecies from the book of Isaiah. Isaiah the prophet prophesied to us about the coming Messiah. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel.” During the time of Isaiah, the people of Israel were awaiting their prince of peace, their Messiah, who would come to save them. Therefore, Isaiah writes, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel.

Isaiah made this declaration on God's behalf during a time of international tension. King Ahaz had feared an invasion from the north. His response was to ally with Assyria, one of Judea's most powerful enemies. But Isaiah advised king Ahaz not to put his trust in international alliances. He should trust in God instead, for a messiah was coming to deliver God’s people from their enemies and darkness.

Eight hundred years later, an angel spoke to a carpenter named Joseph. The angel said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:20)" All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him.

Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." Emmanuel--God is with us.

The last two weeks, we meditated on the hope of light and singing. Today’s sermon is the hope of God’s presence in our midst. We are not alone this Christmas. We might be far away from our families this year, or we might have to social distance because of safety. But we are not alone. God’s presence is in our midst this Christmas Season. He was, He is, and will always be with us. Let us meditate on these thoughts: God came to dwell with us, God came to dwell in us, and God came for all mankind.

God came to dwell with us

“They will call him Immanuel”: God with us. God is with us as a people, just as God was with the people of Israel. But many of us need to know more than ever in our personal lives that God is with us as well. Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The magazine, The Week, wrote a story about a city named Newark, New Jersey. More than a quarter of Newark’s population lives below the poverty line. In the 1960s, wealthy citizens began to flee the city. In 1967, there were terrible riots, which burned hundreds of businesses. Eight years later, Harper’s magazine called Newark; America’s “worst city.”

In 2007, Cory Booker was elected mayor. He was a Stanford, Yale Law School graduate. He was able to attract more than $100 million in donations from large programs and gained approval from the Gates Foundation to fund charter schools and raised millions of dollars to renovate and expand 20 city parks. He began to remove the stench of corruption that consumed Newark for decades.

Understand, Cory Booker graduated from Stanford, Yale, however He chose to voluntarily move into one of America’s worst cities. Why? Maybe it was because of tender love and compassion for people who have been lost in their corruption.

Here’s the good news for you: The apostle Paul said about Jesus, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (II Cor. 8:9)

Jesus didn’t leave Stanford, Yale or Oxford. God left the throne of glory to become the babe of Bethlehem, born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. Why did he do it? Because the world sat in darkness. Christmas is not simply the celebration of the birthday of a good man, but a celebration of light penetrating darkness, hope penetrating despair, life overcoming death, and salvation delivering us from death. “They will call him Immanuel” which means, “God with us.”

God came to dwell in us

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Understand that, this is what Christmas is all about. It’s more than the birth of a special baby, it is more than an angels’ song. It is God coming into our world, stripping himself of all His power and dignity, that he might die on a cross in our behalf. This is what Christmas is all about. God comes into our world, comforts us and draws us into the light.

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