Summary: Jesus’ coming is a sign of God’s extravagant love

Advent with Handel’s Messiah Second Sunday December 7, 2008

Isaiah 7:10-15

Start with story of Kevin putting up “I love you” sign for Faith.

Last Christmas, Linda Ruth gave me a book from The Voice Project called “The Voice from on High.” It is a translation and exploration of scripture from Handel’s Messiah. It’s inspired me to look at a selection of scripture from the Messiah as our Advent series this year.

Any “Messiah” stories?

Today we are looking at the scripture found in part 8 of Handel’s Messiah Isaiah 7:10-15

Ahaz: 2 Kings 16:1-4

In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.

God comes to Ahaz – this rebellious king, and says “I’m going to save you from your enemies. I really am – just ask me for a sign to prove it to you – ask for anything – something deep in the earth, or something up in the sky – I’ll do it!”

It is almost like God is saying “I want to love you, just let me!”

Ahaz refuses – he all of a sudden gets religion and quotes scripture about not putting the Lord you God to the test. It’s a smoke-screen. He has not been following God – he doesn’t want God to get that close, to be that real.

Instead of accepting the God of the Universe’s help and protection, Ahaz goes to the nation of Assyria: Ahaz sent messengers to say to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, "I am your servant and vassal. Come up and save me out of the hand of the king of Aram and of the king of Israel, who are attacking me." And Ahaz took the silver and gold found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace and sent it as a gift to the king of Assyria. – 2 kings 16:7-8

Instead of accepting God’s help and sign, Ahaz gives God’s possessions to a human king as payment for the help God wanted to give for free!

Even though he has to sell the farm to buy the protection that God is offering for free, he does it – is it a control thing?

God sends a sign anyway – the sign is a child

Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of human beings? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. – Isaiah 7:13-16

Isaiah goes home and sleeps with his young wife (the word for virgin could also be translated as a young woman) – they have a child and they name him … Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz! (quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil)

This child is Immanuel – before he knows right from wrong, both Aram and Israel are destroyed. But Ahaz pays a huge price – they become a vassal state of Assyria.

Leap forward 500 years…

Signs of God’s love

Matthew 1 18-23 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").

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