Summary: Advent is a time to celebrate both the past and the future, we remember when Jesus came into this world 2000 years ago, born as a baby, fully human and also fully God.
Immanuel: God IS with us
Today is the third Sunday of Advent, the word Advent comes from the Latin verb ‘venio’ - to come - and ‘advenio’ - to come towards.
Advent is a time to celebrate both the past and the future, we remember when Jesus came into this world 2000 years ago, born as a baby, fully human and also fully God.
Advent helps us to remember and celebrate the amazing truth of John 3:16-17, “This is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.”
In the birth of Jesus, God declares you and I are worth something significant to Him, Father God declares His love for us and His willingness to save us from our sin.
God loves you and me so much that He was willing to be incarnated, to come to earth, so that He could save us from our sin, He came to rescue us, and when we place our trust in Jesus we are saved.
Advent reminds us Jesus has come, and He is coming again.
Woven through the pages of the Old Testament is the prophetic promise that the Messiah would come, His advent would take place.
Perhaps some of the most well known prophetic words about the coming of the Messiah are found in the book of Isaiah. Let me give you a little background to put the verses we are going to consider into context.
Isaiah is speaking to the King of Judah, King Ahaz. King Ahaz was a man who was evil in many ways, he actually sacrificed his own children to false gods. Sick, twisted, evil are all good words to describe Ahaz.
The Assyrian Empire, was steadily increasing in influence and power and many of the nations of the region were scared about what would happen to them. Syria and Israel wanted to form a coalition with Judah to oppose the growing power of the Assyrians. They made a proposition to King Ahaz, but King Ahaz didn’t know what to do. Because of his hesitation Syria and Israel turned against King Ahaz - they decided that they were going to punish him, and get rid of him. Syria and Israel wanted to put another king on the throne of Judah so that they could have their way.
King Ahaz heard that Syria and Israel had turned against him, and that scared him. Isaiah the prophet was sent to the King to calm him down, to give him a message of comfort, and we read that message in chapter 7 of Isaiah.
Listen to the words of Isaiah 7:10-14, Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11“Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.” 13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah said to Ahaz: ’if you would only trust in God, if you would put your faith in God, give everything into His hands, then you will be alright and God will look after you, He will take care of you’.
Isaiah commanded Ahaz to test God, to ask God to prove this message was from Him by asking God to confirm it with a sign.
But, Ahaz in his pride, in his stubbornness, he refused and went his own way. Ahaz trusted in his own wisdom and he decided that it would be better to use men. Ahaz made a treaty with another nation, Ahaz made a covenant with the enemy, the King of Assyria.
Instead of uniting with Syria and Israel, Ahaz sided with the enemy. But things didn’t go as Ahaz had hoped and the King of Assyria broke the treaty and Ahaz ended up in a far worse situation than he had started.
Ahaz turned his back on God, even though he had already been told by God, that despite his stubbornness, despite his pride, God would send the sign of God’s own choosing.
The sign would be a baby, a child would be conceived, a miracle child would be born of a virgin, and would be called Immanuel.
Simply put Immanuel means ’God with us’. As Charles Wesley put it: ’Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’. Immanuel, the baby was named, even before his birth, God with us.