Summary: God has come not just to put His hand on us, not just to say ’Well done’ and give us a pat on the back and push us forward - but He has come to stay, He has come to dwell, He has come to reside with us!
Immanuel - God with us
Isaiah 7:10-14 10 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.
18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19Because 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.
20But 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. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” which means, “God with us.”
Someone once said that if you could convince a man that there is no hope, he would curse the day that he was born.
You see, hope for humans is an important part of life.
Years ago a submarine was rammed by another ship and quickly it sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The entire crew was trapped inside that submarine.
Many boats rushed to the disaster, but no one really knew what the submarine crew went through in those few hours underneath the water.
Men bravely clung to all the oxygen that they could get until, slowly, it gave out.
One diver who came to the rescue,
swam down and put his ear to the side of the submarine and listened,
The diver heard tapping noises - someone was banging out a message in Morse code.
The message was a question: ’Is there any hope?’.
That question, is the cry of all humanity.
Is there any hope?
In different circumstances, and situations, that question can be heard: ’Is there any hope?’.
In London, near where I used to work, in a place called Bunhill Fields is a very interesting cemetery - if you’re interested in cemeteries.
It’s a place where many famous people are buried - Charles Wesley is buried there, Isaac Watts the great hymn writer, Daniel Defoe the author of Robinson Crusoe.
Opposite that graveyard is the chapel of John Wesley and a statue erected to him.
Also across that road is John Wesley’s house, where on March 2nd 1791 Wesley opened his eyes and exclaimed for the very last time, upon his deathbed, these words: ’The best of all is this: God is with us’.
He could have said various things, but he said that the best of all is this: God is with us.
I want to speak to you today for a few moments on ’Immanuel’.
Simply put Immanuel means ’God with us’.
As Charles Wesley, John’s brother, said: ’Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man’
God with us, God come to dwell in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I want to ask three questions:
What did Immanuel mean to Isaiah?
What did Immanuel mean to Matthew?
And What does Immanuel mean to you?
So let’s deal with the first question:
What did Immanuel mean to Isaiah?
In our reading from Isaiah chapter 7 Isaiah is speaking to the King of Judah, King Ahaz.
King Ahaz was an evil man, King Ahaz was a man who sacrificed his own children to false gods.
So you know the character of the man that we’re dealing with here.
At this time, The Assyrian Empire, which was one of the superpowers of the day, was increasing in influence and power.
And because of that, 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 wavered.
He wavered to and fro, he didn’t know what to do, and because of his hesitation Syria and Israel turned against him - they decided that they were going to punish him for his luke warmness.