#1 The “Names of God” Series
"IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US!"
TEXT: Isaiah 7:1-14; 9:6; Matt. 1:22-23
INTRO: At one of
the darkest moments of
ILLUS: One day in July, a farmer sat in front of his shack, smoking his corncob pipe. Along came a stranger who asked, "How's your cotton coming?"
"Ain't got none," was the answer. "Didn't plant none. 'Fraid of the boll weevil."
"Well, how's your corn?" "Didn't plant none. 'Fraid o' drouth."
"How about your potatoes?" "Ain't got none. Scairt o' tater bugs."
The stranger finally asked, "Well, what did you plant?"
"Nothin'," answered the farmer. "I just played it safe."
-- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 204.
The usual reactions of most are: frustration, doubt, fear, anxiety ... the sense of confinement. IF the dark situation is NOT THE RESULT of our disobedience to God's Word we can have hope, and even if it is because of disobedience to God's Word and we are willing to repent God can bring us hope again ... for He made a promise to Judah that still is the greatest promise to mankind today ... THE PROMISE THAT GOD WILL BE WITH US!
PROP. SENT: One of the greatest prophecies about Jesus' coming into the world as a babe was the name He would have: "IMMANUEL" which translated means: "God with us!" So if darkness surrounds us, either innocently or even because of disobedience; if we repent and submit to God HE promises to be with us!
I. STANDING IN FEAR! Isa. 7:2-9; 9:6
A. Normal Reactions Isa. 7:2
1. Ahaz and Judah's situation
was bad: (
b. In a sense Judah had brought some of this upon themselves, they had been living in disobedience to God and His Word, thus they had exposed themselves to evil influences.
2. Their reactions were much like ours when we find ourselves surrounded also:
a. Fear gripped the king and the nation!
b. What were they to do? Isa. 7:2b “…so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.”
3. They felt overwhelmed ... who could possibly help them; the problem was greater than their strength and resources!
4. They had a real problem on their hands ... God was allowing such a situation to turn them from their disobedience.
a. Their next step would be crucial.
b. Would they turn back to God or would they try to solve it their own way with their own strength? This is always the consummate question when we hit these places in our life – and it can get us deeper into trouble when we try and solve it in our own wisdom and strength!
ILLUS: Whenever I
am flying and I engage people in conversation a confession is almost always
forthcoming when they find out I am a psychiatrist. A few years ago, before all
of the modern security measures were installed at the nation's airports, a man I
was sitting next to on a coast-to-coast flight told me, "You know, I used to be
deathly afraid of flying. It all started after that man brought a bomb on board
a flight to
I asked, "Well, what did you do about it?"
He replied, "Well, I went to one of those special schools for people who are afraid of flying and they told me there was only one chance in ten thousand that someone would be on board my flight with a bomb. That didn't make me feel much better. The odds were still too close. But then I reasoned that if there was only one chance in ten thousand that one bomb would be on the plane, there was only one chance in 100 million that two bombs would be on board. And I could live with those odds."
So I asked, "But what good would that do you?"
He quickly replied, "Ever since then, I carry one bomb on board myself -- just to improve the odds." -- Dr. Jerome Frank, professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 365.
c. The quality of the outcome would be determined by what they chose!
5. All they could see at the moment was FEAR ... and lots of it too!
B. Needed Revelation! Isa. 7:3; 9:6
1. First they needed to understand God's purpose in this situation ... to wake them up to their need to repent and trust God!
2. What they needed was what Isa. 7:3 begins with: "THEN THE LORD SAID..."
a. This was their problem, till now it had been what they said, not what God said!
b. If we listen, God has an answer for us!
3. Part of the answer was beginning to confront the king with God's answer, not just personal opinions.
4. The ultimate revelation would be found in the prophecy of Isa. 9:6.
a. “A CHILD IS BORN” -- Christ's humanity!
(1. He would experience our life and hurts.
(2. He would know hunger, thirst, exhaustion, disappointment, pain, growth, a troubled heart, tears, birth and even physical death!
b. Does God really understand us and can He really identify with us in our humanity ... too often we have viewed Jesus as floating around on this earth for 3 years doing miracles and having a glowing halo over Him ... speaking parables every time He spoke ... always under control and confident of His mission, but the scriptures portray for us His identification with humanity as well, and for a good reason!
5. HUMANITY OF CHRIST Hebrews ; ; John 1:14
b. Growth -- youth and Teen
c. Hungered and ate
d. Thirsted and Drank
e. Had parents and brothers
f. He knew loneliness
g. He became weary
h. He was troubled in Spirit. (Distress and confused-concern)
i. He wept
j. He slept
k. He was surprised
l. He had financial pressures, taxes, and treasury.
m. He got angry
n. He knew physical pain
o. He had to be taught – learned
p. He himself taught others
q. He did household chores
r. He held down a job at one time -- was an employee
s. He learned to cook
t. Settled arguments.
u. Went to church. (Synagogue)
v. Had to be obedient to others over him.
w. He had to make hard decisions.
x. He knew what it was to be misunderstood by others.
y. He even experienced what it was to feel like God had forsaken you.
z. He even experienced death!
1a. He knew the feeling of losing a friend (Lazarus)
2b. He knew the feeling of failure (Judas)
3c. He knew the emotions of joy and happiness too (wedding celebration)
4d. He needed friends (both male and Female).
5e. He knew what it was to be treated unfairly.
6f. He knew what it was to need to be reassured: (“THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED”)
7g. He knew what it was to give love. (Little children, disciples, lost sinners)
8h. He knew what it was to be tempted to disobey God’s Word!
9i. He learned obedience to others and submission to authority. (Parents and nation)
10j. He experienced the need to help others as well! (Healing, feeding, etc.)
11k. He learned what it was to need to pray and spend time with God!
6. WHAT KINDS OF THINGS DO YOU THINK JESUS WOULD HAVE DONE HAD HE LIVED TODAY?
a. Would He eat at McDonalds? Hold down a job at IBM?
b. Would he drive a Ford? Visit malls?
7. God coming as a human as well as divine and lived among us!
a. This hardly looks like an answer at first! Ahaz would have thought the same thing ... "what we need is an army, not a baby!" was probably in his mind!
b. God's way of solving the most difficult problem of humanity was found in a manger of all places – really!
c. God still baffles the mind in how He solves our most difficult problems; many times His solutions are so different from what we would have thought!
d. "A SON IS GIVEN" – Christ's deity
(1. The Son could not be born since He has always been the Son, but He could be given ... to you and me!
(2. What a solution; to give us – you and me, the most powerful source in the universe, how could anything outdo this?
(3. Yet, even in this there is a condition, you must accept the gift or you don't possess it!
e. How many have missed the greatest gift of God because of the fear of the unknown?
ILLUS: An Arab chief tells a story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door. As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?"
The spy hesitated for a long time. It was a difficult decision. He chose the firing squad.
Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution. The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice."
The aide said, "What lies beyond the big door?"
"Freedom," replied the general. "I've known only a few brave enough to take it." -- Don McCullough, "Reasons to Fear Easter," Preaching Today, Tape No. 116.
8. And so with Judah and King Ahaz … God promised them victory, but with a condition. Isa. 7:9b
C. Necessary Reassurance Isa. 7:4-9
1. "Be careful, keep calm, and don't be afraid..." Isa. 7:4
a. God tells him to stay calm BEFORE He tells him the answer to the problem!
b. The point: GOD STARTS WITH US, NOT ALWAYS WITH THE PROBLEM FIRST! … SOMETIMES WE ARE THE PROBLEM!
2. Isaiah begins to reassure Ahaz, an important ministry!
a. We need in the church people who are builders of faith!
b. This was not just wishful thinking on Isaiah's part ... although Isaiah would tell Ahaz that he must exercise faith in order for God to solve the problem!
3. Barnabus in the New Testament serves as a good example of this, his name literally meant: "SON OF CONSOLATION (encouragement)!"
a. This doesn't mean that Barnabus ignored sin in other people’s lives, just that he encouraged them to trust God and to repent!
b. Us too, we must encourage one another, but not to the extent we ignore sin, our own sin or sin in others!
4. IN LIGHT OF GOD'S PROMISE TO BE "IMMANUEL" (or "God with us") these two kings who were going to come against them was in God's eyes nothing but two smoldering twigs! [Isa. 7:4]
a. Though the world doesn’t take God serious, we must!
b. The world only sees Christ as an “ornament” in our culture … but we must be careful to see Him as the ALL SUFFICIENT ONE.
ILLUS: Society never actually wanted the Incarnation. "Emmanuel, God-with-Us" does not sell computer games or cologne. Society wanted the cute stuff -- rustic stable, adoring shepherds, fluffy sheep, cows, donkey, holy family, infant Jesus, gift-bearing kings, stars, angels, St. Nicholas, reindeer, fir trees, holly, and presents. The pagan stuff they will retain -- even if they do dye the trees powder blue and decorate them with miniature hanging appliances and Disney ornaments. ...
The marketplace will also retain some of the traditional hymnody, but in upbeat arrangements that remove them from the realm of traditional worship. Ancient chants are popular, too. They sound religious and profound and -- best of all -- nobody understands Latin, so no shoppers are offended. -- Maureen Jais-Mick, "Ready or Not: The Return of Christmas" (Cresset, Dec. 1995). Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 14.
c. And so it is with us in our most pressing problems ... they are no match for God if we follow His ways.
d. We don't have to be overcome by circumstances, but can be overcomers!
II. STANDING IN FAITH! Isa. 7:10-14; Matt. 1:22-23
A. Never Retreat! Isa. 7:10-13
1. God always has a plan ... we just need to FIND and FOLLOW it!
a. Here is where Ahaz blew it!
(1. Isaiah reveals God's plan ... and calls upon Ahaz to have faith! Isa. 7:9b
(2. Ahaz has a
choice ... so did all
b. The one word jumps out of verse 9: "IF"
2. God will bring victory, but we must stand repentant and faithful!
a. Ahaz tried to sound spiritual in his rejection of God's offer of help:
b. READ Isa. 7:10-13 What he was really saying in a very spiritual sounding way was: "I WON'T OBEY YOU GOD!" Isa. 7:12
3. It is bad enough not to trust close friends, but not to trust God is really bad!
a. A friend may fail you ... but God cannot!
b. He is trustworthy!
4. Not trusting God is like trying His patience! READ Isa. 7:13
a. Those in this world hardly take it seriously!
b. Even some in the religious world ignore the power of the reality of Christ’s coming, “God with us!” The religious leaders of Jesus’ day certainly didn’t take Him seriously!
c. How about us?
ILLUS: If Christmas is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the universe in the form of a helpless babe, it is a very important day. It's a startling idea, of course. My guess is the whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his son is a way of showing his love and concern for man. It's my guess that in spite of all the lip service given to it, it's not an idea that's been popular with theologians. -- Harry Reasoner, quoted by Vic Pentz, "On Beyond Zebra," Preaching Today, Tape No. 63.
5. What's your excuse when God speaks?
a. “I want to be a good steward of God's money by not using too much gas to go to church too often.” (When the real issue is a failure to tithe)
b. "Since God wants me to love people I try and never mention sin in any way so as not to offend anyone." (When the real issue is avoiding dealing with sin)
c. "The Bible teaches moderation in all things, so I try not to go to church too much or talk too much about salvation." (When the real issue is lack of commitment)
d. "I know the Lord wants me to be a good example and witness in paying my bills so when we get caught up we will begin to tithe!" (When the real issue is stewardship)
e. "The Bible says God loves the "cheerful giver" so once my attitude is right we will begin to give." (When the real issue is lack of giving)
6. These excuses and others are only retreats from God's plans and Will, they may sound spiritual ... but they are only cop-outs!
a. Disobedience can have serious consequences.
b. Captivity and pain resulted from Ahaz and Judah's failure to obey and repent! There was a real price tag for sin!
B. Now Revealed! Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23
1. The promise of God to help them! “IMMANUEL” – “God with us!” Isa. 7:14
2. What else could they hope for ... if God is for you who can be against you?
3. Ahaz and Judah missed the hope they could have had ... another generation had the privilege of seeing "IMMANUEL" because this generation failed the "IF" test.
a. Repentance and obedience could have brought a different experience for them.
b. It doesn't get any better that having "GOD WITH YOU!"
4. This is the Christmas story ... “GOD WITH US.”
a. Our faith doesn’t have to be huge to start with, even small faith to begin with will help, and it will grow as we exercise it. God came as a small baby, we must start somewhere, even if small!
doesn't have to be huge ... just use what you have at first, example: the Bridge
b. Faith grows in time and practice.
5. In MATT. 1:22-23 this promise unfolds ... though again
with a condition, that we believe on the Son and repent of our sins; the same
conditions given to
6. What problem could possibly overshadow this provision! NONE!
a. "IMMANUEL" – “God with us!”
b. When the enemy had a plan ... God had one too – His name was JESUS!
c. While the WORLD WAITS IN FEAR, the BELIEVER CAN WAIT IN FAITH!
d. The choice though is still ours to make!
7. The bottom line: "IF YOU DON'T STAND FIRM IN YOUR FAITH, YOU WILL NOT STAND AT ALL!" Isa. 7:9b
8. FAITH-FUL not FEAR-FUL!
(1. Where are you? In Ahaz's shoes or Isaiah's?
(2. Are you in a trial and fearful?
(3. Have you repented if this is needed?
(4. Are you standing in faith, or seated in failure?
(5. Can anything be better than knowing that "GOD IS WITH YOU?"
CONCLUSION: The greatest revelation of Christ's birth is that He is "IMMANUEL" meaning "GOD WITH US." If He is for us – and He is with us, who can be against us? NO ONE or NO THING! The only reason to fear is if we haven't repented or we aren't trusting God ... stand in forgiveness and faith and you can't lose ... GOD WILL BE WITH YOU!