What Child is This?...The Prophecy

What Child is This?...

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cares on His shoulders. Jesus is a counselor not just to give us some advice and then it’s up to us to decide whether or not to follow it. No, Jesus doesn’t give us advice to be weighed by us, but his counsel is to be followed by us. I like that adjective wonderful. We typically think of wonderful as something that is really great. After a tasty meal, I’ll say, “ummm…that was wonderful”. If your married child calls to tell about a baby on the way, “that’s wonderful news!” That all fits with the word wonderful, but there is another definition that also fits here that highlights the “wonder”. In Judges 13, God has told Samson’s parents that they are having a son. It’s a very special baby who will be used by God to bring protection and deliverance to the people of Israel. Samson’s dad, Manoah, asks the Lord, “whose name should we honor when people ask?” The exact same word from Isaiah 9:6 is used here, My name is wonderful, or incomprehensible, beyond your understanding. This God boggles your mind. You do not want a God you can understand. A God that you can fully understand is an incredibly small God and not be a God to be worshipped. So when you ask, “God, why did you do this?” God this doesn’t make any sense?” It is what Isaiah was trying to get Ahaz to understand. The invading army that looks so devastatingly powerful will not come. Then when the Assyrian armies turn against Israel and do come to take captives he writes these words in chapter 9. You will not fully understand our God. I know you don’t get it, but He has a wise plan, He is the wonderful incomprehensible Counselor. We don’t want God we can understand fully. What child is this? He is a Mighty God. That Hebrew word ‘Gibbor’ means warrior who will fight for us. Israel needed a warrior to fight on their side to defeat the enemy. We fight battles too. We need to know we have a mighty God, someone who will fight for us. Are you oppressed and trapped by your own sin. Jesus, is our Immanuel who is with us in the battle. Jesus has stepped into the ring and defeated our worst enemy Satan. He is our mighty warrior. What child is this? He is an Eternal Father. Now that is an interesting name for a child. Isaiah is saying this child, this son, has all the attributes of the Father. John 10:30-33, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one”. Earthly fathers may come and go, but Jesus is an eternal father who will never leave you. Are you feeling alone? Abandoned? Let His presence, the Immanuel, God with us, be your security. What child is this? Prince of peace. It doesn’t seem to fit in our world that has so much conflict, social, political, wars and unrest. Jesus brings not just the absence of conflict, but a shalom, a wholeness, to our lives. The root of our problem is

we have a sin issue. We have made choices against God. Like Ahaz, we have scrambled around trying to make life work out on our own. We have stiff-armed God’s offer to prove Himself as a powerful hero, and savior to us. In Love, God sent a clear sign to us in his son Jesus. Romans 5:1 says, “Being justified, (declared right) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His great love for us while we were still sinners, He sent His son “unto us”. The child who grew up offered this invitation, “come to me all who are weary and tired and weighed down heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Let go of trying to do it on your own. Let go of your need to earn significance. Let go of your need to control. Let go of your perfectionism. Let someone help you. Give it up. Live in God’s grace. Be fine with the process and understand God is pleased with you in your journey. It was “unto us” a child was born and a son was given. Accept this gift. Talking with one of our adult children last week, they asked what we wanted for Christmas. Truly we told them, “we just want to see you, we just want to be with you. I get it now when Jesus says, “That’s what I want from you for Christmas, I want to be with you. I want to be your Immanuel. And so, accept the gift offered. Say to Him, “God I needed to hear this. I believe you are the Immanuel, God with us, the son of God who died to rescue me from sin and death and restore, peace and rest with the father. I’m done living life my way. I choose to follow you my wise king. Thanks for sending your son to pay what I owe you. I receive your forgiveness. Come be the rule in my heart. Teach me to love you and love others in spite of all I’ve done. Change me from the inside out. This Christmas I’m yours.”

This message from the Scriptures was presented at NORTHVIEW BIBLE CHURCH, Spokane, Washington. Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (“NASB”), © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, 1996 by the Lockman foundation. Used by permission.

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“What Child is This?...The Prophecy” Sermon Series: “What Child is This?”

So many expectations swirl around us during this Christmas season. We so look forward to enjoying family time and connecting with our friends. We look forward to re-experiencing the music and memories and smells and sights of happy times of the past. Sharing gifts and laughter that only those who know us well could truly appreciate. Our expectations run particularly high during this time of year. Frustration and conflict and loneliness also peak in late December. All frustrations are born out of some unmet expectation. The higher the expectation, the higher the frustration when it doesn’t happen. When the joyful family time doesn’t flow as you’d hoped; when the friends you thought would connect don’t; when the memories of the sights and smells aren’t quite as good as you remember. The whole season is built on anticipation. Every TV commercial is designed to convince you of what you need to have in order to be fulfilled. The frustration when you expect every kiss to begin with Kay...and it doesn’t; when you expect that ‘somebody’ will be going to Jared…and they don’t. Frustration and despair arise when those expectations are unmet. Couple that with the stress and pressure of buying gifts for the family and friends and decorating the house, preparing a feast, and on top of all the Christmas pressure, many are getting pummeled by the stress simply of living. There is a huge decision that some of you need to make in the next four weeks that will have life-long implications. Perhaps you got accepted into that program in college but now the academic load is getting really heavy. Maybe the debilitating weight of a habit that won’t let go is coming to a head. You feel unworthy, shame and distant from God. You know you need to walk away from it, but you can’t seem to shake it off. Frustration, pressure, stress all around us. We live in a such a great country, but sometimes it too can be very dark and fearsome and lonely. How can we transform our trust, liberate our expectations and redeem our anticipation in a way that stokes our passion for following Jesus? This morning is the first in a three-part series “What Child is this?” We will be looking back in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 6 and 9. Isaiah has 66 chapters and you may take a look at your index to discover the Bible also has 66 books. The first 39 chapters in Isaiah deal with the judgment of God and similar to the Old Testament that includes how many books? 39. The second half of Isaiah has 27 chapters and emphasize the hope of salvation. Chapter 40 begins with the words “comfort O comfort my people.” This is very similar to the message of the New Testament which contains 27 books expounding on this message of hope. Chapters 7 and

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Isaiah 7:10-14; 9:6,7 Pastor Norm Schwab December 10, 2017

9 in Isaiah certainly carry the weight of God’s judgment, but there are powerful glimmers of hope to grab on to. As you turn to Isaiah 7 let me bring you up to speed and set up the hope that God is crafting. Take your mind back to over 700 years before Christ was born to the city of Jerusalem. The king of Judah, living in his palace in Jerusalem was named Ahaz. The twelve tribes of Israel had split apart some 200 years earlier (930BC) in a terrible civil war. It left Israel with 10 tribes in the north led by King Pekah and Judah with just two tribes in the south, Judah and Benjamin, led by King Ahaz. Now Pekah in the north made an alliance with the king of Syria, named King Resin. They decided the time was ripe for them to join forces and go down to beat on King Ahaz in Jerusalem. So Ahaz now finds himself in a very stressful and desperate situation. They were (7:2) “shaken as the trees in the forest are shaken by the wind.” The situation looked hopeless for Ahaz, he’d maxed off the stress charts. How do you handle stress? People usually do one of three things. Most of us will start by trying to change the situation. If you can’t make the mortgage, then get a better job or downsize to something more affordable. If your marriage is stressful, people either get some counseling or get a divorce. It’s not always possible to change the things that are stressing us. A second way to manage stress is to change the way you feel about it. Force your brain to lower your expectations. Convince yourself you shouldn’t be frustrated when your expectations aren’t met, that you should be sad or lonely or angry. Manage those emotions by burying them deep inside so we no longer have to deal with them on conscious level. Of course, those suppressed emotions have a way of squeezing out into other areas and wreaking their havoc. The third way to manage our stress is to change the meaning of the situation, the stress. God was trying to help King Ahaz do this and that is where the prophet Isaiah steps in to be the spokesman for God. Ahaz was so worried about the invading armies coming down from the north that he quickly drafted a letter to the super-power of the day, king of Assyria, Tiglath Pilesser III. Ahaz offered him all the gold and silver vessels from the temple in exchange for his military support. He was hoping to buy protection and deliverance from Tiglath. In 7:3-6 we find Isaiah has been commissioned by God with a message. Isaiah meets up with Ahaz down by the head of the aqueduct channel that fed the city’s water supply. He was probably making sure the water supply was in good

shape prior to the impending siege. God tells Isaiah to take his little boy, Shaer Jashuv, along with him to meet Ahaz. Perhaps it was “shadow your dad at work” day. Now Ahaz never liked Isaiah. Ahaz didn’t like God or anyone telling him what to do. Ahaz didn’t care much for the names Isaiah gave his sons. Shaer-Jashuv means “a remnant will return”. That name has a partial encouragement that some of his people will come back, but that also means most of the people will be deported after defeat. Ahaz didn’t like having this little kid prophetically named, “remnant”, running around reminding him of impending doom, especially with armies marching south to fight. Isaiah didn’t seem to care whether Ahaz liked the message or not. The message was from God so he delivered it. The message was short. Don’t try to scramble around to solve this invasion problem on your own. No matter what your scouts say, this invasion will not come together. It may not look like it from your perspective, but God has those armies already taken care of. Pekah and Resin are just two smoldering, burned out stubs, (V.4), “what you fear… will not come to pass (V.7). Those forces that seems so menacing and powerful right now will not exist for long. In fact, their countries will be shattered within 65 years. So God uses Isaiah to challenge King Ahaz to move in faith toward God. Believe that God is your Deliverer. In verse 11 God says, “Ask anything,…go for it…nothing is too big for me.” I dare you to think of something that would prove me wrong. I want to prove to you and all of Judah that I can deliver and my power is overwhelmingly sufficient to bring peace to your threatening situation. Now understand this is amazingly gracious of God. This is not common protocol for God. Usually when people try to test God they get chided for their lack of faith. But here God is the one who invites the test. Look at Ahaz’s response in verse 12. “I will not ask or test the Lord.” Oh my, doesn’t that sound pious? But it wasn’t humble, it was defiant. King Ahaz has already decided that his own solution was the best. He had already made up his mind that Tiglath-Pileser would be his salvation. He didn’t want to hear what God had to say through Isaiah, but he wants to appear religious. “Oh, I wouldn’t dare put God to the test.” Ahaz didn’t want a sign because he didn’t want God to mess with his plans. It’s the age-old sin that started way back in the garden when Adam and Eve believed they could make better gods than God, that they could run things better than God could. That, despite all his provision and protection in the garden, they preferred to be the master. God didn’t appreciate Ahaz’s false piety. God saw right through it. (V.13) “It’s enough for you to test to patience of other humans, but will you dare test the patience of God as well?” You will get your

proof whether you like it or not. (V.14) “The Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” This prophesy was far bigger, far more reaching than any child that might have been born in Isaiah’s day. We discover from Isaiah 9 and Mathew 1 that the Lord picked a sign that would span all eternity. It’s quite probable that there stood a young woman nearby where Isaiah and Ahab were talking, possibly part of the royal family, who have never known a man sexually, but would soon be married would give birth to a son named Immanuel, “God with us.” Before that boy would know right from wrong and before that baby would be able to say “mama and papa”, Judah would be delivered from the threat of the invading armies. Indeed, that happened, just two years later the northern threat evaporated. Yet due to Ahaz’s lack of faith that deliverance would usher in difficult times. The little boy, Immanuel, would eat curds and honey. On the face, it looks like a meal of prosperity, curds and honey! But the final verses of chapter 7 explains. There is an abundance of milk to make curds, yes, but only because so many calves are dying and the momma cow has extra milk to give away for making curds. There is honey in the fields, yes, but only because the farmers’ fields are no longer being plowed and they’ve become overgrown, let go wild, for the bees to live in their tangled mess. God gives proof positive to King Ahaz that what He says is true. Every time Ahaz sees that boy running around the palace courtyard He is reminded that God is able to deliver. His power is sufficient to calm the threatening storms of our lives. His plan is bigger than this life. God is your salvation, not Tiglath. Was it a wakeup call for Ahaz? Nope. Ahaz didn’t change to follow God. In II Kings 16 we read he totally rejected God. He was so enamored by pagan cults he sacrificed one of his sons in the fire. We read he made a trip with his buddy Tiglath to survey the defeated Damascus and was so impressed by a pagan temple there he sketched out some plans and had a similar pagan altar made to replace the one in the temple of God in Jerusalem. Isaiah 8 tells us He ran after mediums, spiritualist, séances to consult the dead. (8:22) He looked to earth for answers rather than God. His fate for consulting the dead was to join them in darkness. It seemed Ahaz was determined to look to everything else but God for answers. It sounds way too modern, doesn’t it? Just listen to the afternoon talk shows and movie plots willing to swallow just about any supernatural madness as long as it doesn’t involve following the Creator God. In chapter 9 Isaiah breathes more hope. In the very place where such darkness and destruction took place, the doormat for any invading army to wipe their feet on the way to attacking or back

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from getting defeated... Galilee is where Isaiah prophesies that God will send a great light. God promised to send His son Jesus, in a little package of hope to the world. God’s promise to place His Messiah, His Deliverer, His Son in the land of Galilee smack in the middle of a terrible time of fear and frustration and gloom…as a great light. Isn’t it in the worst of time that good news sounds especially good? Isn’t it when it’s the darkest that the light of hope shines brightest? The Christmas carol, “O little town of Bethlehem” was written by a pastor in Philadelphia named Phillip Brooks. He took a trip to see the holy land in 1865 while civil war was doing its damage here in America. As Brooks sat on a hill just outside of Bethlehem, he looked down on the town and was inspired to write the words, “O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” 1865 was a good year for Christmas carols, as that was the same year that Longfellow penned the song we sang earlier, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” With the line, “and in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said, for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth goodwill to men.” 1865 was a terrible year for conflict, but it was a great year for singing of the light that comes out of darkness. If we fast forward 700 years to Matthew’s gospel we read of the ultimate fulfillment of this promise made to King Ahaz (Matthew 1:18-22). “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet. “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us.” Matthew says, don’t miss it. Don’t miss the sign, it spans all eternity. This is it. this is the child who is also described in Isaiah 9:6,7. The promise. I wonder if we have heard these words and read these words so often in Christmas cards that we have missed the power of their meaning. After this morning I hope you will read those popular words with a whole new meaning. In 9:6 the child is no longer just a sign, but the child is the Deliverer Himself. It is the promise in flesh and blood. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us.” A child is born. Humans are born. They learn to walk, to talk. They get their diaper changed. The child comes to us in vulnerability and weakness. God with us. He understands our brokenness because He has entered into it. In his book Unspeakable, Os Guinness tells about a well-known Christian leader, whose son was killed in a cycling accident. The leader was devastated by the loss. Os a friend visited him a few weeks after the funeral and this man screamed out with the pain and hurt of a father furious at God, blaming God for his sons death. Rather than rebuke the man, one of Guinness’ friends reminded

him of the story of Jesus at Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus expressed anger and even indignation at the loss. When Jesus came to earth, he became a human just like us. He felt our suffering. He experienced our broken world. Jesus came to heal this broken world, and our broken lives, but first he came to earth as Immanuel to identify with our pain. That all changes the meaning of our suffering. We are free to face the pain as a human, just as Jesus did. We are free to weep at what is heartbreaking, to be shocked at what is shattering and horrified at what is horrific. We do not fully understand His plan. But be assured Jesus knows exactly how we feel. A son is given. The Son wasn’t born, the son eternally existed. The child was born, the Son was given. While “a child is born” speaks of His humanity, “a son is given” speaks of His deity. Jesus Christ the Son of God was given. Jesus did not just begin his existence 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. He has been always the son of God existing as a part of the God head from all eternity. In Micah 5:2 it says, "His goings forth are from long ago from the days of eternity." John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Jesus has been around for eternity. He is fully God and at the same time fully human. This concept can be mind-boggling. And yet here is God in the person of Jesus Christ who fully understands us...Fully human and fully God. A child was born…but a son was given “unto us.” Have we received what was given unto us? Have you received the gift of God’s son? Perhaps this morning His light will pierce your darkness, and for the first time you will see the child as your Deliverer. What child is this? Look at verse 6. It says the government will be on His shoulders. We look forward to that day when he returns and reigns as King Jesus on this earth, both politically and spiritually. But until that day comes he rules over God’s people as an invisible rule in the hearts of those who follow Him unlike Ahaz who thought he was the master and ruler of his life and felt the heavy weight of being his own god. The government of your life, the heavy need to be in control, can be removed from your shoulders and placed on Jesus’ shoulders. Let the government, the rule of your life, be placed on His shoulders. The shepherds and wise men knew He was a king. They came and bowed down. Even Herod understood Jesus was a king, the government, who came to rule and reign. It was a threat to his own reign and he killed to try and eliminate Him from taking over. Will you stand defiant, reject and rebel against your Creator King, or will you bow your knee, bow your heart to the True King? What child is this? (V.6) He is a “wonderful counselor”. Are you in need of wisdom? Guidance? We all need a counselor who gets it, understands and knows us. That’s Jesus, the child who was born, fully human, fully God. Cast your worries and

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