Summary: There are several “hugs from God” in Isaiah that remind us what Christmas is all about, and what it really means for those who have Christ in their hearts.
The Promise of Christmas
A pastor was preparing his sermon when his daughter came in and said, “Daddy, can you come and play with me?” Her father responded, “Honey, I need to finish my sermon, but give me an hour, and I will play with you.” “Okay,” said the girl, “And when you finish, I am going to give you a great big hug.” So the daughter started out of her dad’s office and then turned around and gave her dad a big hug. “I thought you were going to give me a hug when I was finished?” asked her father. “Daddy, I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to!”
I don’t know about you, but Christmas is a time of year that creates anticipation. I know growing up I couldn’t wait until Christmas to open up the gifts. Many times my anticipation led me to peak at my gifts early so that I could know what to look forward to. Of course, if you ask my wife, she would say that I haven’t changed.
The Advent season is the opportunity for the church to remember and reflect upon what Christmas is all about. It is about reflecting upon the anticipation of a Messiah that was fulfilled at the first coming of Christ and also to remember what we have to look forward to at the second coming of Christ.
The Old Testament is filled with “Hugs from God.” By that I mean God has generously provided prophecies to his people of old to show them what they had to look forward to in the coming Messiah.
This Advent season I want to spend some time looking at some of those “Hugs from God” or “prophesies” that are found in the Old Testament and were fulfilled in the first advent of Jesus Christ. For those of you wondering, the word "advent" comes from the Latin word “adventus” that means “to appear.”
I want to spend the weeks up to Christmas focusing on the prophecies in the Old Testament book of Isaiah that were fulfilled at the first Christmas. There are several “hugs from God” in Isaiah that remind us what Christmas is all about, and what it really means for those who have Christ in their hearts.
The first prophecy I want us to understand is found in the seventh chapter of the book of Isaiah. It is important that I put this chapter into its larger context if we are going to fully understand what it means.
The first five chapters of the book of Isaiah deal with the Israel’s present, that is when Isaiah was serving as a prophet, which probably started around 740 BC. It also would deal with their future also. Chapter one is a summary of the whole book. Isaiah’s purpose as God’s prophet was to warn Israel of the coming judgment upon their sins and to call them to repentance before it was too late.
Many are familiar with the sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah because that is where we see God calling Isaiah to service as a prophet. What follows chapter six is a record of Isaiah’s ministry and the message of that ministry.
From chapters seven through 39, God is challenging Israel in the area of trust. God wanted to know if Israel was going to put their faith in the one true God or where they going to put their trust in the ungodly nations around them. If they would put their trust in God, they would be okay, but if they trusted in other nations, discipline and destruction would surely come.
In these several chapters, we see many prophecies concerning judgment upon Israel’s sins. Yet, within these declarations of judgments God gives hope. Alternatively, shall I say, he gives his people a hug so that they can see what is to come beyond the judgment. God gives hope in these chapters that a believing remnant saved and hope that the believing remnant after a season of exile and captivity would return from captivity.
Nestled within chapters 7-39 we find several prophecies concerning a coming Messiah. Chapter seven has one of those promises concerning a Messiah. In chapter seven God provides his people something to look forward to. For the people of Isaiah’s day, it was a look forward, but for us today it is a look back. We want to look back to the hug that God gave in chapter seven to remember what Christmas means, especially for those who have thoughtfully exposed their hearts to the Christ child. Notice verses one through fourteen:
1And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. 2And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. 3Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; 4And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. 5Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, 6Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: 7Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 8For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. 9And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. 10Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, 11Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. 13And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.