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Summary: Born to be king (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading:

• Isaiah chapter 9 verses 1-6

• Matthew chapter 1 verses 18-25

Ill:

Name change - celebrities real names & their celeb names.

• Names obviously communicate to us;

• They create an image, a persona.

• According to my book of useless information;

• Jesus has 117 names (some say over 250!)

• In our Old Testament reading Isaiah brings to our attention 4 of them,

• Matthew in his gospel gives us the most well known name of all, the name ‘Jesus’.

To appreciate the names we have to appreciate the context, the setting, the background:

• That those names were given in,

• So let’s go back 800 years before Jesus was born into planet earth.

Reading: Isaiah chapter 9 verses 1-6

(a). The darkness (verse 2):

“The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned.”

GOD’S PEOPLE HAD BEEN SPLIT INTO TWO BY A CIVIL WAR:

• In the north was Israel – the northern kingdom;

• In the south - Judah the southern kingdom,

• Both kingdoms were living in dark times.

• That darkness evidenced itself in at least two ways.

(a). Dark circumstances:

• Their circumstances were bleak,

• Assyria was a military aggressor;

• Assyria had already started invading Israel in the north;

• And it was only a matter of time before it would also conquer Judah in the south.

(b). Dark spiritually:

• Spiritually the nation was walking in darkness;

• Selfishness & sinful actions dominated in the majority of people.

Ill:

• Superstitions (2:6),

• Materialism (2:7; 5:8-9),

• Idolatry (2:8,20),

• Arrogance (2: 12-17; 5:15),

• Lack of good leadership (3:1-4),

• Social disintegration (3:56,12-14),

• Sensuality (3:16-26),

• Alcoholism (5:11-13,22).

• And if you keep looking, you will probably find a whole load of other things going on as well!

Ill:

• In 1835 a man visited a doctor in Florence, Italy.

• He was filled with anxiety and exhausted from lack of sleep.

• He couldn't eat, and he avoided his friends.

• The doctor examined him and found that he was in prime physical condition:

• So the doctor suggested that his patient needed to relax, and to have a good time,

• He then told him about a circus that was in town.

• And he told him of its star performer, a clown named Grimaldi.

• Night after night he had the people rolling in the aisles.

• "You must go and see him," the doctor advised.

• "Grimaldi is the world's funniest clown. He'll make you laugh and cure your sadness.

• " "No," replied the despairing man,

• "He can't help me, you see, I am Grimaldi!"

Gods people were truly in the dark and there was no hope!

(a). No help in themselves.

• Like Grimaldi; they could not help themselves,

• For they themselves were the problem!

(b). No help in the monarchy.

• The final years of Israel's monarchy were a period of political uncertainty.

• Kings like Shallum and Menahem were quickly assassinated.

• The royal and political leaders of the day were also swamped by darkness;

• They were a classic example of the blind leading the blind.

(c). No hope in their religious leaders.

• Religion had become syncretistic (syn-cret-is-tic) ill: New Age:

• A mixture of every conceivable practice of the Canaanites, Assyrians and Egyptians.

• Ill: The so called people of God;

• Were even sacrificing children to Molech, the god of the Ammonites;

(d). It is fair to say that there appeared to be no hope anywhere!

• Verse 1 tells us that Zebulun and Naphtali, two of the northernmost tribes of Israel,

• Had already suffered the onslaught of Assyria.

• Their towns and villages had been destroyed.

• Their people had been taken away and resettled hundreds of miles away from home.

• Judah feared that it too would suffer the same type of fate,

• There was darkness and gloom everywhere and there appeared to be no hope.

Ill:

• A little over a month before he died,

• The famous atheist Jean-Paul Sartre declared

• When trying to resist strong feelings of despair, would often say to himself,

• “I know I shall die in hope.”

• Then in profound sadness, he would add,

• “But hope needs a foundation.”

Question: What could turn the nations hopelessness into hope?

Answer:

• As we shall see, the answer is not ‘what’ but ‘who!’

• ‘A king born of royal descent!’

• The people may have ignored and forgotten the true God,

• But the true God had not ignored or forgotten them!

• And into there situation of darkness,

• God would shine his light and so dispel the darkness.

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