This is the sermon for Sunday December 6th, 2009.
The Christmas Prophet part 1
Here’s your sign!
Isaiah 7:10-17 ESV – 10Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11“Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” 13And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 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.”
This morning, we are starting a series of sermons having to do with Christmas entitled, “The Christmas Prophet.” 700 years before Christ was born, the Prophet Isaiah was given revelation by God Almighty into Christ’s coming. Isaiah gives a lot of detail about Jesus; from His birth, to his life, His death, and His resurrection. Some people have called Isaiah, “The Old Testament Gospel.”
Now you will notice the title of the sermon this morning. It is not original; it comes from the comedian Bill Ingvall. He is known for the expression, “Here’s your sign” after someone says something or does something rather dumb. Of course the sign he it talking about is the one that says, “I’m with stupid.”
Here, the Lord Himself through the Prophet Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign from Him. The sign that the Lord gives Him is none other than the coming of Immanuel – Jesus of Nazareth.
Let’s look into our points this morning.
Desperate times calls for desperate measures.
I’m sure that we’ve all heard this expression many times throughout our lives. Well, King Ahaz of Judah was living and ruling in very desperate times. Let’s look into Chapter 7 to see the desperate times mentioned.
Isaiah 7:1-2 ESV – 1In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. 2When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.
According to the study notes of the Archaeological Study Bible, this group of chapters (7:1-12:6) is known as the Book of Immanuel. It belongs to the period of the Syro-Ephraimite war (which can be found in 2 Kings 16:1-20).
It was during this time and Israel (Ephraim), the Northern Kingdom, was in coalition with Syria against Judah (the Southern Kingdom). Ahaz, King of Judah, and all the people of Judah were suddenly put in a desperate situation. Notice verse 2, “The heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”
God tells Isaiah to go and bring a word of encouragement and comfort to Ahaz. While Israel and Syria worked together with the plan that they would overthrow the house of David, God promises that it would not happen.
Isaiah 7:3-9 ESV – 3And the LORD said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-jashub your son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 4And say to him, ‘Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. 5Because Syria, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has devised evil against you, saying, 6“Let us go up against Judah and terrify it, and let us conquer it for ourselves, and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” 7thus says the Lord GOD: “‘It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass.8For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. 9And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.'”
Next, the Lord through Isaiah, says something rather amazing to Ahaz.
The Lord tells Ahaz to ask for a sign as high and heaven and as deep as the grave.
Isaiah 7:10-11 ESV – 10Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, 11“Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
This is actually an amazing thing the Lord is speaking to Ahaz. He is not telling Ahaz to ask for a little sign that can be manipulated by man. He is telling Ahaz to ask for a sign that only the God who reigns over the entire universe could supernaturally do.
The sign was not do show off God’s power. It was to confirm that God would deliver and rescue Judah from Syria and Israel. You see, Ahaz was not a very spiritual man; in fact he was very evil. He trusted in what he knew and in what he could see. It was during the time of this prophecy that Ahaz put his trust in the King of Assyria for help instead of the God of Judah.
2 Kings 16:1-8 ESV – 1In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign. 2Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God, as his father David had done, 3but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree. 5 Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him. 6At that time Rezin the king of Syria recovered Elath for Syria and drove the men of Judah from Elath, and the Edomites came to Elath, where they dwell to this day. 7 So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.” 8Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.
What can we learn here? Even as believers, it can be easy to put our trust in our abilities, or others, with whom we can see and know; and not trust the God who has saved and redeemed us through Jesus Christ, whom we have not seen.
Notice Ahaz’s response to Isaiah.
Isaiah 7:12 ESV – But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”
He didn’t say this because He respected the LORD, because he didn’t. Perhaps he said this because he knew that if the LORD gave him a sign and he was delivered, he would have to acknowledge the very one with whom he didn’t honor: God Almighty.
God determines the sign: a virgin to give birth to Immanuel – God with us.
Isaiah 7:13-17 ESV – 13And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. 17 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.”
Though Ahaz was not around to see this sign come about, it happened 700 years later. This sign was really not just for Judah and Ahaz; but it is for all people, and the reason that we celebrate Christmas.
What can we learn from the sign of Christmas – Immanuel – Jesus Christ?
- Like Ahaz, we live in desperate times. Our economy is bad. Many people are out of work, some homeless. Many have lost families either through divorce, or some tragedy. But most importantly, we live in a world that is marred by sin. It hates God, and wants nothing to do with Him. They want Him out of their lives, their families, their schools and their governments.
- We cannot trust in man to pull ourselves out of our condition. Man might be able to mend fences and mend wounds; but man cannot mend the rift between God and themselves. Sin has separated us from Him.
- God has given us a sign that He can heal this rift between us and Him – He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, our Immanuel. Jesus, born of a virgin has come to do what no man can do, reconcile us to God.
As we conclude this sermon this morning. If you are struggling, know this morning that your main struggle is the rift sin has brought between you and God. Call on the name of Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins and receive the glorious promise of having your sins forgiven, and His Spirit living in you.
If you are a believer going through hard times, know that the sign of Christmas – Jesus and His coming to earth is for you as well. He is our “God with us” – our Immanuel. Trust Him and not your own power and strength during difficult times.