Summary: Throughout the history of Israel-Judah and in the birth of Jesus we see that God continues to visit and protect His people.
Fourth Sunday in Advent(A) Ask A Sign Isaiah 7__10-17
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring upon you and upon your people and upon your father’s house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.”
Psalm 24:1-7, (8-10) BCP 368
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The reading from Paul’s epistle declares Christ Jesus "was promised beforehand through his prophets" amd "was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power ...by his resurrection from the dead."
The reading from Isaiah is one of those prophecies. Some Christian teachers have played down the value of Isaiah 7:14, but there is justification, as I will show for using that verse as a Messianic prophecy.
Matthew identifies Jesus as "Emmanuel" – which means "God with us." We celebrate that fact on Christmas Day. . We celebrate that God, in Christ, became one with us, came to visit and stay with his people.
I God’s Promise
Isaiah spoke the a teaching, a prophecy from God when Ahaz was king of Judah. The chapter starts with Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, joining forces to fight against Jerusalem.
Isaiah was sent to Ahaz with a message: "Stand firm in your faith." Ahaz was told to believe in God and His promises. The King was more than an administrator, a leader of the army and a head of government. The King in Israel – Judah also had a teaching responsibility to God and the people. He was a moral arbiter, a judge as well.
Had not God promised that a son of David would always sit on the throne (1 K 8:25)? What was the king’s response? Scripture tells us, (Is 7:2) Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Ahaz was shaken, Ahaz was scared, Ahaz feared for his life. Ahaz’s response was not one of faith and belief in the promises of God.