Merry Christmas! We’re glad that you’ve taken the time on Christmas Day to celebrate the reason for the day, the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It’s a time for family, Christmas trees, gift-giving, lights and Christmas cookies. Yet, how sad would it be to celebrate someone’s birthday and forget whose birthday it is. So, today, we want to take the time and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.
The true meaning of Christmas has significance not just on December 25, but all through the year. So, today, my message is entitled “Messiah’s Birth. Christmas was when the promised Messiah was born into the world. The Old Testament prophets prophesied of a coming Messiah. The Messiah would be a Savior, a King, the Anointed One of God. Hundreds and even thousands of years later, the prophesies were fulfilled on that first Christmas night.
The Messiah was not born in a palace or to a King. Jesus, the Messiah, was born to a most unlikely couple. A couple who had just been married, after the bride had become pregnant. The mother Mary was a common peasant girl and her husband, Joseph, was a simple carpenter. Yet, the birth of the child Jesus, changed the world forever, as had been prophesied. The child born on Christmas split time in half, BC and AD, because He was and is the Messiah. So, Jesus was not just an ordinary baby, He was born destined for so much more.
Today, we’re going to begin with a prophecy by Isaiah and then look at it’s fulfillment in the Gospel of Matthew. The prophet Isaiah prophesied to King Ahaz, king of Judah. At the time, Syria and Israel had allied themselves to attack King Ahaz and Judah. King Ahaz was very afraid.
Isaiah 7:2b (NIV) so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
King Ahaz was being tempted to rely on the world-power Assyria for protection, rather than the Lord. Into that situation, the prophet Isaiah and his son, came to prophesy the word of the Lord to King Ahaz. This morning, we’re going to learn some lessons on how not to relate to God from King Ahaz. Then, we’ll learn how properly relate to God through Jesus, the Messiah.
Trust in the Lord, not man
The question in King Ahaz’s mind was whether to trust in the Lord or to trust in the world power of Assyria. Isaiah was sent by God to give King Ahaz one last chance to trust the Lord. Isaiah prophesied to King Ahaz to …
Don’t be afraid
Isaiah 7:4 (NIV) Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood–because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.’
The prophet told Ahaz to not be afraid or discouraged by the kings of Syria (Aram) and Israel. He should keep calm and be careful, don’t do anything rash. Fear leads people to do all kinds of foolish things. If you are trusting the Lord, you won’t be afraid. If you’re afraid, you’re not trusting the Lord. Don’t be afraid, Isaiah told Ahaz because …
God is in control
Isaiah 7:7 (NIV) Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘It will not take place, it will not happen,’”
God here is identified as the Sovereign Lord, the one who rules over everything, including nations and kings. The Sovereign Lord speaks through Isaiah to Ahaz telling him that the invasion by Israel and Syria of Judah will not happen. King Ahaz need not be afraid, he need not run for help to Assyria, God is in control. God assures Ahaz that his fears will not take place. He needs only to …
Stand firm in your faith
Isaiah 7:9b (NIV) “’If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.'”
Rather than being afraid, King Ahaz was to stand firm in his faith. If he doubted, he would not stand at all. In other words, faith drives out fear, faith trusts in the Lord, faith believes that God is in control. These points were the word of Lord from Isaiah to King Ahaz.
God wants your Christmas to be a time of faith and a time of hope. The words of the prophet Isaiah are God’s Words to us this Christmas season 2016. We also are tempted like King Ahaz to trust in things other than God. How are we tempted? We are tempted to trust in other people, to trust in ourselves, to trust in our money, to trust in our jobs.
God says to you this Christmas, don’t put your trust in anything other than Me. I am the Sovereign Lord, I hold the universe in my hand. Surely, I am the one that you should trust, for I will take care of you. If you put your trust in anything other than the Lord, then good will not come to you. For surely, your misplaced trust will lead you away from the Lord and into bondage to whatever you put your trust in. Put your trust in the Lord alone this Christmas. Isaiah continued to speak to King Ahaz and told him that …
God wants to reveal Himself
Sometimes people talk about blind faith, but God never asks that of anyone. He has chosen to reveal Himself in many ways, so that we will believe in Him. So, God desired to reveal Himself to King Ahaz, so he was told to …
Ask God for a sign
Isaiah 7:10-11 (NIV) Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
God was basically saying to Ahaz, look, if you aren’t sure that I will handle the situation with those attacking you, then ask me for a sign. God wanted to reveal Himself to Ahaz, so that Ahaz would put his trust in God. You would think that Ahaz would have jumped at the chance to see a sign from God.
Don’t refuse God’s evidence
Isaiah 7:12 (NIV) But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”
Ahaz refused to obey God by asking for a sign. He even quoted Scripture, saying that he should not test the Lord. Yet, in obeying the Lord to ask for a sign, he would not be putting God to the test. Why did Ahaz refuse to ask God for a sign? Because Ahaz had already made up his mind to pursue help from the Assyrians. He didn’t want to see God’s sign. He had chosen not to believe God. We see from other Scripture that Ahaz did not follow God as his grandfather Uzziah had. He built idols to Baal and even burned his own sons in the fire as human sacrifices. He gave large donations to the Assyrians to save Judah. Ultimately Judah was invaded by Assyria, whom they had trusted for protection. Even though Ahaz refused to ask for a sign …
God gave us a sign
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) 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.
God said through the prophet Isaiah, I will give you a sign that what I say is true. There would be a historical fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah’s day. A young maiden would have a son, who would be called Immanuel, God with us. This would be a sign to Ahaz and others that God’s Word would come to pass. And so it did. Within three years, Israel was destroyed and within 12 years, Syria was conquered, both by Assyria. Yet, ultimately, Assyria turned on Judah, it’s ally and conquered it as well.
What’s the message for us today? God is not hiding from people, He wants to reveal Himself to people. Believing in Jesus Christ is not a blind leap of faith. There is historical evidence supporting the claims of Jesus Christ. Yet, God also offers supernatural evidence for those with the faith to ask. If you’re not a believer this morning and you have doubts, ask God for a sign. He loves to answer those kinds of prayers. He will show you that He’s real, alive today and can answer your prayers.
If you have friends or relatives who are not believers this Christmas. Ask God to show them a sign that’s He’s real and loves them. Maybe God will use you as part of His sign. As we turn to the New Testament in our next point, we’re going to see that Jesus Christ is the prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. He is the sign that God is with us to stay forever, through His Holy Spirit. This Christmas, take the time to ask God to reveal Himself to you in new ways. He wants you to know Him better and for your faith in Him to grow this Christmas.
Jesus came to show us God
Now, let’s see how Isaiah’s prophecy was prophetically fulfilled 700 years after it was given as recorded in Matthew 1.
Matthew 1:18a (NIV2011) This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:
His mother Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit before she was married to Joseph. Joseph thought that Mary had been unfaithful to him and wanted to divorce her. So, God sent an angel to tell Joseph what was going on, that the baby …
Jesus was the Son of God
Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV2011) But 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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
The angel made it clear to Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful. She was pregnant through the Holy Spirit. What that means is that the child would be both human and divine, both man and God. The child was to be named Jesus, because as the Messiah, he would also save people from their sins. With this angelic visit, God gave Joseph a clear sign in order to guide him and help him believe. Then Matthew tells us more about who this child Jesus would be.
Jesus was Immanuel, God with us
Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV2011) All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew then quotes in Greek from the Old Testament written in Hebrew from the prophet Isaiah. The Hebrew word for virgin can mean either young maiden or virgin, leaving room for both it’s historical and prophetic fulfillment. The word that Matthew uses can only mean virgin, which indicates a supernatural birth. The son of Mary would be called Immanuel, God with us. Jesus would be the ultimate representation of God, the Father. Jesus Himself said, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. God came to live among the people that He created. God still lives among believers today, through the Holy Spirit, whom He sent. Not only was Jesus the Son of God and Immanuel …
Jesus was the Savior
Matthew 1:24-25 (NIV2011) When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Joseph named the baby, Jesus, which means that He would be the Savior who saves us from our sins. Ahaz went his own way and did not put his trust in the Lord, resulting in tragedy. Joseph listened to the angelic sign and choose to obey God, taking Mary as his wife and naming the baby Jesus. Jesus came to show us what God is like and to be with us forever.
This Christmas Sunday, God wants to reveal Jesus to you in a new way. Christmas is not just about a baby being born some 2000 years ago. Christmas is about the Son of God being born in human flesh. What happened at Christmas is about God breaking into our world to save us from our own sins, even though we don’t deserve it. Christmas is about God taking the initiative and choosing to leave heaven to be with us. And even though Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He is with us through His Spirit. Jesus promised to never leave us or forsake us.
This morning, if you’ve never put your trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, I’m going to give you an opportunity in a minute. If you are a believer this morning, but the reality of God’s presence in your life has dimmed, God wants to reveal Himself to you in a new way. Finally, if you’re a believer and you have unbelieving relatives or friends, God wants’ to use you to reveal Himself to them. So, let’s pray about what God wants to do this morning.
Jesus the Messiah Series