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God is with us - Isaiah 7

This is a sermon by Lee McMunn from the Riverside Church service on 19th October 2014.

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Isaiah 7:1-25

 

One way to discover what’s inside an unlabeled can is to apply great pressure to it. Then what is on the inside will come out.

 

The same is true with our lives. Our true selves are revealed in situations of great pressure.

 

Now that’s what we see happening to one particular individual called Ahaz in this section of the Bible.

 

The year is 734 BC and Ahaz was the King in charge of the southern region of God’s people, what is often called Judah. And in this year of his reign he was faced with a clear and present threat to his nation’s security. So let me show you…

 

The problem the king faced (Vs 1-2)

 

It’s described for us in vs 1. Read 1. Two local kingdoms trying to invade Judah. Why? Ahaz had decided not to join their alliance against Assyri. The first invasion had failed. But that wasn’t the end of the story. They didn’t walk away. No they came back. And they came back with the specific intention of removing Ahaz from the throne and replacing him with a puppet king.

 

And this is what Ahaz was told about in vs 2.

His response? His heart was shaken. He didn’t trust God. When pressure was applied, his true self was revealed for all to see.

 

But I love what happened next. God didn’t rebuke him. He sent the prophet Isaiah to reassure him and to strengthen his feeble knees.

 

We read about this encounter in the rest of chapter 7. I’ve called these verses…

 

The promises the king heard (Vs 3-25)

 

Let me show you in more detail what happened. Look at verse 3. Read vs 3-7

 

How kind was God! God was promising that what he feared would never happen. He could be assured of this because the all-powerful God of the universe said it would never happen.

 

At this point Ahaz was contemplating a political alliance with Assyria. He thought this was his only option. And perhaps in human terms it was.

 

So this promise was not simply to stir his heart and give him courage. It was designed to stop him making a political alliance for the safety of he country he led.

 

But if he did form such an alliance, there would be consequences. Did you see what God promised at the end of vs 9? “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

 

The whole intention of God’s words is to enable him to stand firm but if he didn’t he wouldn’t be able to stand at all. His immediate threat would certainly disappear but a much greater threat would bear down on him and his people.

 

At this point Ahaz had all he needed to trust in God’s ways. It may have seemed crazy to other people but he had God’s word of promise.  But then did you see what he is offered in vs 11? It is quite remarkable.      

Ask for anything you want to reassure you of my commitment to you and these people.

 

How did Ahaz respond? Read vs 12.

 

At first glance Ahaz comes across as rather pious. And he has Scripture on his side. Deuteronomy 6:16 declares that we should not put God to the test. But on this occasion God had said it was okay!

 

Why did Ahaz refuse it? Look at how Isaiah responded in vs 13. Isaiah saw through all the pretence.

 

Ahaz didn’t want a sign. He had already made up his mind to put his trust in political methods of salvation, those that appeared more likely to succeed. He wasn’t prepared to trust in the ‘foolish ways’ of God. A tangible sign from God would have made it harder to follow through on his predetermined plans. So with outward politeness he said to the prophet Isaiah, “No, thank you.”

 

But even though he didn’t want a sign, look at what Isaiah promised in vs 14.

 

They are going to get a sign. What is the sign for? If will be a sign that will show God’s commitment to the house of David. God would make good on his previous promises.

 

What is it? The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us.

 

Ultimately this is all about Jesus.  Matthew 1:22-23.

I think it also had another reference. That’s because of what we read in vs 15-17.

 

What did it mean in the time of Ahaz? The woman is called the virgin. Someone specific and known to Isaiah and the king. At that time was a virgin. But would get pregnant and give birth.

 

Who was that? We don’t know for sure. But I think it was Isaiah’s new wife and the child is the one we read about in 8:1. Immanuel would be one of his other names. This child was a reminder that God hadn’t given up on his promises to the house of David.

God also promised that tough times were in store for the country. The child would live through times of devastation. As the remaining verses of chapter 7 make clear, this would come through the invasion of the Assyrian army. Destroyed Damascus in 732 and then Samaria fell in 722 BC. Then they came south and destroyed much of what they saw.But through all the devastation God did not completely obliterate his people. He preserved a remnant.

 

He had made a promise to the house of David. God keeps his promises made to his people. And this would be shown by the birth of this child called Immanuel.

 

The ultimate fulfilment of this promised sign happened when Jesus was born. This was indeed in a league of its own. The Son of God himself, was born of a virgin and made his dwelling among us.

 

  • Good news for us!
  • Revelation.
  • Redemption.
  • Reassurance – it is the sign that God is committed to the promises he made.

 

Is God committed to your best interests?

 

  • Thinking of becoming a Christian
  • Already following Christ. But are you deterred from total dedication?

 

Can we trust him and his ways even when they seem foolish? What will stop us being tempted to embrace the wisdom of the world? The ultimate sign of Jesus. He is the sign that God will be committed to all the promises he has made about his people.

 

None of us are perfect. So when we feel the pressure of life it may well be that you are shown to be an anxious person. Of course, we long to change and become more trusting. How? In those moments when you are tempted to run from Christ, instead exercise those muscles of faith and keep on trusting in Jesus, the ultimate sign that God is for us. And this will enable you, in the power of the Spirit, to keep committed to God’s revealed ways, even though they may appear foolish and reckless.

 

Time and money. When the pressure is on. Do I have time to do this? Do I have the money to make ends meet? Stay committed to Jesus. If you do, you will continue to be generous with the resources God has placed at your disposal.

 

When you find this difficult. Look at the sign. Ponder, Consider Jesus – who he is and what he has done. 

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