Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Emmanuel" Isaiah 7:14

There was a little boy in his first Christmas play.  In his only line he was to come out and say, "It is I.  Do not be afraid."  Just before he was to go out stagefright set in and he came out and said, "It's me and I'm scared!"

I don't know about you but many times that is the way my prayers start...  "God, it's me and I'm scared.  I don't know what to do, say or go.  God, help me."

How do you think God feels about prayers like that?  Sometimes I think God must get tired of me saying that.  "I told you what to do.  Now go do it!  What are ya, stupid?"  But the Bible would teach us to bring everything to God.

Now some people go to God and say that they want a sign.  God, if you do such and such I'll know it's the right thing for me to do so and so.  I went to visit a woman in the hospital a few years ago and met her husband in the parking lot.  He was going in at the same time but we had to cross a busy street before we got to the hospital.  He wanted to wait to cross the road until a yellow car passed because that was how he knew that God was going to take care of his wife.

That may sound silly but anytime you tell God he has to do something before you do something I think you may have a problem.  God has provide His word for us to read and He has provided His Spirit to guide us.  We shouldn't be asking for a physical sign.  We can find the answers in prayer and Bible study.

But there were a couple of times in the Bible when God wanted to provide a sign like that.  One of them is in our passage today.  Turn to Isaiah 7:14.  We heard from Hank the shepherd a couple of weeks ago who told his story of the angel coming to visit him in the field and in his story he mentioned a couple of OT passages that prophesied about the Messiah so we are looking closer at those for a couple of weeks.

I want to read Isaiah 7:1-14 but it's a little difficult to understand but don't worry, I will give you the gist of it afterward.  Read. 

It helps to know that at this time the country of Israel had been divided in two and the northern part was still called Israel but the lower part that included Jerusalem was called Judah.  The King of Judah was Ahaz.  Ahaz found out that Israel had allied itself with another powerful country, Ephraim, and was prepared to attack Judah and so the Ahaz and all the people were very scared.

Isaiah was a prophet and he told Ahaz not to worry because God was on his side.  He told him to just ask God for a sign and He would give it.  Instead, Ahaz says he doesn't want to test God which sounds noble enough but what he really means is that he will figure it out himself.  He doesn't need God.

Now, if you remember last week I told you as we studied Isaiah chapter 9 that the book of Isaiah has lots of doom and gloom prophesies in it.  Isaiah tells Israel over and over that if you continue to do this then all these bad things are going to happen.  But ever so often Isaiah brings good news.  Like last week when he said y'all keep doing this and bad things are going to happen, nevertheless God is going to be merciful and provide a baby to be born.

It's the same kind of thing here with Ahaz.  Ahaz is disobedient but God says basically "Nevertheless I will give you a sign.  A baby will be born and you will call him Immanuel".  And Immanuel means what?  God with us.

So, there you go.  Thanks for coming.  We have learned some history today and we can check off the box on the to-do list that says "church".  See ya next Sunday.

Or, we can stay for a few more minutes and try to decide what this means for you today.  What does it mean for you to know that God is with us?  Is that comforting or is it scary?  I've said before that knowing God is watching you all the time can be one of the two depending on what you are doing at the time.

Hopefully it's comforting to know that but I would submit to you that during the Christmas season it is even more important to realize that He is with us.  It's important to know He is with us when everybody else around us is celebrating.  It's important to remember He is with us when we are going through Christmas without a certain loved one.  Or when we don't have enough money to buy all the presents we need so we are tempted to just charge it.  Or you feel like you're going to punch the Salvation Army guy for ringing that bell over and over.

Whatever your problem is, I want you to remember that not only is God with us but He cares and is powerful enough to solve any problem you have.

Do we serve a violent God?  Have you ever thought of God as violent?  I want you to turn to Psalm 18.  You need a Bible.  If you don't have one, find one and turn to Psalm 18.

David has been literally running for his life.  He is scared and knows he is about to be killed and so he cries out to God.  Read Psalm 18:1-24. 

Today, God is with us and that should be very comforting.  It should also be comforting at this stressful time of the year to know that God is not only with us but He cares about you and is powerful enough to solve all of your problems when you are faithful and obedient to Him.

In verse 41 it says that David's enemies cried out to God but God didn't answer.  If God is not answering your prayer for help maybe He doesn't hear you because you have built a wall between you and Him.  Or maybe you have never asked Him into your life at all.  Today is the day to do that.  Today is the day of salvation!

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