Christmas according to Isaiah - part 3
Advent Midweek 3
Part 3: Yahweh in Person
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Amen)
It is written in Isaiah chapter 7:10 Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” 13 And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Thus far the text.
Let us pray: Creator Father, through Your prophet Isaiah, You promised the virgin birth of Your Son Jesus Christ. Angels announced the arrival of that birth seven centuries later. Grant us ears to hear and hearts to receive the temporal and eternal blessing you give by grace through faith; in the name Jesus. (Amen).
Ahaz was the king of Israel. Isaiah was the prophet of the Lord.
Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham to the throne of Judea. Ahaz was a weak and idolatrous king. Ahaz even offered one of his sons as a sacrifice to the pagan god named Moloch.
That was the heart of the problem.
On the one hand, when the Lord commanded no sacrifices of any kind be made to other gods, King Ahaz did the opposite. He sacrificed to other gods. On the other hand, when the Lord commanded prayer and remembrance of the Sabbath by keeping it holy, King Ahaz again did the opposite. He did not pray. He did not remember the Sabbath.
This doing the opposite what the Lord says is called putting the Lord your God to the test.
It is written in for our instruction this evening that Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz: 11 “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
The Lord is commanding King Ahaz to ask for a sign. Give Me a sign. Any sign. And I will do it. Again, what does King Ahaz do? But Ahaz puts on his most religious and humble face and said to the Lord: “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” What a bunch of baloney. When the Lord commands you to do something, then do it.
Every once in awhile, I meet a church member around town that hasn’t been to church in awhile. Maybe at the gas station. Maybe at a sporting event. They see me and promise they will be in church next Sunday. As if they’re making a confession of sin. No, they just feel caught. They feel the accusation of the law. So they promise to be in church the next Sunday. Without fail, two things happen. First, they show up the next Sunday still apologizing. Second, it will be a month of Sundays before they return. If they ever return.
The Lord has commanded you to go to church. So go. Otherwise, as His child, you are putting the Lord your God to the test.
The Lord has not commanded you to act all pious and religious at a gas station or football game when you see a pastor or your faithful aunt or a faithful grandpa. Rather, on those occasions, fill up your gas tank and go about your errands. Enjoy the football game. Otherwise, you are putting the Lord your God to the test.
The Lord doesn’t like to be tested. He told the Devil just that when the devil commanded Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple. Be gone Satan.
So also here with King Ahaz.
And (the prophet Isaiah) said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Is it too little for you to weary your prophet or your pastor or your mom that you would also weary the Lord with you false religiosity? Repent of your baloney and believe the Lord.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. He already has to do the work of your salvation. The Lord already must die for you. So, when He commands the bad king Ahaz to dream up a sign as to how the Lord will come to His people (anything, just pick something) imagine the Lord’s frustration. The Lord even has to dream up and predict how He is to come to dwell with His people. And He does...
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Okay. Beyond our imagination.
The Hebrew word for virgin is almay. It means a young woman of marrying age who is not married; who is not engaged; who has only just reached child bearing age; who has not known a man.
Seven hundred years after Isaiah, the angel Gabriel appeared before just such a virgin; an almay. Her name was Mary. Mary conceived.
How can a virgin conceive? Even Mary asked Gabriel, How will this be, since I am a virgin (Lk. 1:34 ESV)? The angel Gabriel answered saying, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; The Word of God was spoken by the angel. The Holy Spirit is inseparable from the Word of God The Holy Spirit is the power of God. That Word of God was spoken into the ear of Mary. Mary conceived. This is a miracle second only to the resurrection.
According to Isaiah’s prophecy, we confess that we believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our LORD, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
What does that mean? It means we believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my LORD.
This Child is God. This Child is Man. This Child is one person who is fully God and fully man.
Therefore the child to be born will be called holy-- the Son of God (Lk. 1:35 ESV).
Or, according to Isaiah, the child will be called Immanuel, that is God with us.
The sign is a pregnant virgin.
The gift is Immanuel, God Himself, dwelling with us on the this earth even now.
Immanuel is not given to you the way He was given to Isaiah. The pre-incarnated Jesus appeared to Isaiah and gave Isaiah the words to speak to Ahaz.
Immanuel is not given to you the way He was given to Mary. The incarnate Jesus was conceived and born of Mary that first Christmas. Mary nursed Immanuel; raised Him as He grew in favor before God and man. Mary watched Immanuel speak and die on the cross.
Immanuel is given to you the way He is now promised. You hear His voice whenever the Word of God is taught in its purity. You eat and drink His body and blood as often as the sacrament is rightly administered to you.
God is still with you.
Thanks to God for Christmas according to Isaiah.
Thanks be to God for His Son, our Savior. Believe in Jesus. Received the forgiveness of your sins, salvation, and eternal life; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes understanding and which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds that first Christmas, protect you and keep you in Immanuel, our Savior. Amen.