Summary: Jesus came down in order to lift us up.
A Miraculous Birth
Rev. Brian Bill
December 21-22, 2019
The signs of Christmas are all around us…
• Dear Santa, I’ve been good all year…OK, most of the time…Once in a while…Forget it, I’ll buy my own stuff.
• Making a Christmas Wish won’t get your car back…No parking. Tow Away Zone.
• Christmas Calories Don’t Count.
• Friends Don’t Give Friends Fruitcake.
• To Anyone Who is Christmas Shopping For Me…I Wear a Size 100 in $$.
We’re calling our December series, “Down to Earth: Christmas According to Isaiah.” Last week we looked at the indescribable uniqueness of the name of Jesus as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” from Isaiah 9:6-7. This weekend we’ll be unpacking an incredibly precise prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. Our main point is this: Jesus came down in order to lift us up.
The Gospel According to Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is filled with predictive prophecies about the birth and the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. It’s been called the “fifth gospel” because it contains so much good news and is quoted more often in the New Testament than any book, except Psalms. On Christmas Eve we’ll look at a few verses from Isaiah 53 in a message called, “In Our Place.”
Isaiah ministered in the Middle East during a really difficult time. Terrorists from Assyria were attacking and beheading people. Fear gripped everyone and Isaiah dared to believe something better was coming even though his culture was corrupt and everything around him seemed so dark. Seems similar to our situation, doesn’t it?
In Isaiah 64:1 we hear him longing for the Lord to somehow come down into his world to make sense out of all the nonsense, to bring peace to all the problems, to dispel the darkness and to extricate evil: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down…”
In Isaiah 6, we read of Isaiah’s calling as a prophet when he comes face to face with the holiness of God. After admitting his own misery and calling on God’s mercy, Isaiah signs up for ministry by saying, “Here am I, send me.”
Scholars suggest as many as twenty years passed before we get to chapter 7, where we’re introduced to an evil king named Ahaz. He was the most ungodly ruler to date, building a pagan altar in the Temple area and sacrificing his own children to the pagan god Molech.
The prophets Micah, Hosea and Isaiah called Ahaz to repentance, to no avail. Because he had deliberately disobeyed God, his kingdom came under attack from all quarters. According to verse 2, this caused King Ahaz and his cabinet to panic: “The heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” Isaiah is told to comfort Ahaz by bringing his son Shear-jashub to the water reservoir. Interestingly, Isaiah means, “Yahweh is salvation” and his son’s name means, “A remnant will return.” The message is clear to Ahaz – let Yahweh be your salvation and a remnant will return.
Isaiah points out in verse 9: “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” This is a Hebrew pun that can be translated like this: “If there is no belief, you will find no relief.” That’s still true today.
In verse 10 Ahaz is told to ask for a sign that would help him believe. In verse 12 we see that Ahaz refused to ask for a sign by claiming a pretense of false piety. The truth is he didn’t want to submit to God. Instead of obeying God, he deliberately disobeyed Him. This lights Isaiah up in verse 13: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?”
With that as context, we come to one of God’s most remarkable Christmas signs. God picks a sign that is beautifully incomprehensible and biologically impossible in verse 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.”
This prophecy combines God’s intervention in the immediate situation regarding Ahaz and also looks ahead to an ultimate fulfillment of His covenant commitment to David that would take place 700 years later when a son would be born to a virgin in Bethlehem, the town of David. In other words, there are two fulfillments in this passage – one that is near and partial and one that is far and complete.
Let’s look at this spectacular sign phrase by phrase…
• “Therefore…” Whenever we see the word “therefore” we should ask what it’s there for. In this case, it’s a word of contrast to show what God will do despite of Ahaz’s disobedience. This word was often used by the prophets to introduce a divine declaration.