jump to navigation

Fourth Advent Sermon on December 18, 2012 preached at Grace Bible Church in Lansing, Michigan December 19, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Angels, Christmas, Deuteronomy, Incarnation, Jesus, Matthew, Messiah, Prophecy, Virgin Birth.
add a comment

Do Not Be Afraid
Matthew 1:18-25

INTRODUCTION: Joseph is the third person involved in the Christmas story who has been told not to be afraid. Earlier Zacharias and Mary were told not to be afraid. Later, the shepherds are also told not to be afraid. In each case the command was connected with the appearance of an angel but in Joseph’s situation the command is connected to a difficult situation that he is facing, what to do about Mary. He has three choices.

I. He could make her a public example (verse 19). This would involve a public accusation and if she was found guilty death by stoning (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Mary had no rights in the matter. Her pregnancy was proof of her sinfulness. Yet she was his wife. Joseph was a just man who kept the law. She was a criminal.

II. He could put her away privately (verse 19). This would involve divorce papers being given to her in the presence of two witnesses. She could perhaps, in spite of her sullied reputation find a husband. She was young. There was a chance that she would recover. Again, Mary had no choice in the matter. She was at Joseph’s mercy. Mercy is what he intended to show. He could not keep her as wife for then he would have to adopt the child. If the child was a boy, then any further son’s by her would lose any possible inheritance, whether in Nazareth or Bethlehem. As a just man, he took seriously the inheritance law for his oldest son. It was commanded by God. He felt that he had no other choice.

III. He could keep her as his wife (verse 20). This did not occur to him apparently or at least was not considered seriously until the angel told him, “Do not be afraid!”

A. Do not be afraid, she is not a criminal; she is not a sinful woman. She is a virgin. Her son is not from a man but a miracle of God.

B. Do not be afraid. Adopt Him. Give Him the legal inheritance that is His, the throne of David.

C. Do not be afraid. Call Him Jesus for He will save His people from their sin! Jesus means “Savior.”

This is the first of two names given to the child in this passage. The second name was actually given over seven hundred years before Christ was born. The name “Emmanuel” which means “God with us” was prophesied to an ungodly royal ancestor of Joseph’s, Ahaz. This name is mentioned by Matthew as proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

These two names have meaning for us also. Jesus is the Savior. He came to save His people from their sin. His people were the Jewish people but He did not come just to save His people. When Jesus as a thirty year old man came into the presence of John the Baptist, a prophet of God, John pointed his disciples to Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” Jesus Himself once said to the Jews in John 10, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.” He was talking about us. In Ephesians 2, Paul writes about Jesus in His death tearing down the wall of partition that existed between Jews and Gentiles for the purpose of saving people out of both groups and integrating them together like a building where the blocks or the bricks interlock to become one.

What is it from which we are saved? There are many things one could be saved from? The name “Savior” comes from a medical word. When a patient recovers from a deadly illness because of the wisdom of the doctor, we say, “The doctor saved him.” When a medicine causes a miracle cure, we say, “The medicine saved her.” When a medic or a first responder’s actions rescue a person from death, we say, “That man saved their life.”

Jesus once said that He came to save the sick. He was speaking figuratively. You see, humankind is sick with sin. Most do not recognize their sickness but every person, born into the world is sick with sin and will die of that sickness unless they have a Savior. The name that Jesus was given to bear here on earth is a reminder that He is the one who came to save.

The second name, Emmanuel, tells us how it is that Jesus can save. He is “God with us.” When Jesus was laid by Mary into the manger, he was no ordinary baby. He was and is still the virgin born Son of God. The name Emmanuel is a sign from God that He Himself has entered the human race.

Ray Pritchard tells this story. “A young man sat in my office and listened as I explained the gospel to him. Finally he said, ‘I just can’t believe all that stuff.’

So I asked him, ‘What would it take for you to believe?’

‘I would believe if God came down and stood in front of me and told me himself,’ he said.

‘My friend, he already has come down,’ I replied. ‘He came down 2,000 years ago and lived among us. If you don’t believe that, then I have nothing better to offer you'” (from Ray Pritchard in When Did Christmas Begin?).

Savior and Emmanuel: these two names are brought together in a hymn by William Cowper that we rarely sing today. “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”

“Some 200+ years ago there was a man in England by the name of William Cowper. He is a man who was of nervous disposition. All the biographers talk about that. He struggled with nervous problems, depression. It looks from reading his story that he suffered from what we would call a form of manic depression, given to some great difficulty in his life. At one point in his life, by his own testimony, he was depressed, upset and fearful that he was under the wrath of God. He said, ‘I flung myself into a chair by the window and there saw the Bible on the table by the chair. I opened it up and my eyes fell on Romans 3:25, which says of Christ, ‘Whom God has made a propitiation through faith in his blood.’ William Cowper said, ‘Then and there, I realized what Christ’s blood had accomplished and I realized the effects of his atonement for me. I realized God was willing to justify me and then and there I trusted Jesus Christ and a great burden was lifted from my soul.’ Looking back on that day, William Cowper wrote a hymn several years later that is in our hymnbook today. ‘There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains…’” (from Ray Pritchard in Propitiation: God’s Not Angry With You).

As we pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the Virgin Born Son of God would you not trust Emmanuel, “God with us,” as your Savior from the stains of sin? He promises that He will save you through His blood if you trust Him and Him alone.

Christmas Sermon on “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” December 6, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Christmas, Isaiah, Jesus, Longfellow, Peace, Religion, Sermons, World Peace.
add a comment

This week on “Eternally Significant”
Tuesday: Going Beyond Saying “Merry Christmas”
Wednesday: Why Sport’s Commentators Condemn Tiger

THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF PEACE ON EARTH
Isaiah 11:1-16

INTRODUCTION: One of the most obscure prophetic references of the New Testament is found in Matthew 2:23, where he writes of Joseph bringing his family back from exile in Egypt to the city of Nazareth. Matthew writes, “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’” He is referring to this first verse of Isaiah 11. The word “branch” is the Hebrew word, “netser”, which means a sprout or a shoot. Matthew was trying to emphasize the humble beginnings of Jesus.

A. The twig or sprout symbolizes for us the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ (verses 1-9). Compare verse 1 with Isaiah 53:2-3 to see another description of the humble beginning of Jesus Christ. In that chapter we see that Jesus was despised so that He could make peace with God for us. He paid the penalty for our sins so that we could come to God. Why then did it have to be Jesus? Why could it not have been some other descendant of the royal line that provides the peace Isaiah describes in this chapter? What makes Jesus different from the other descendants of Jesse? Isaiah goes on to tell us in this chapter (Isaiah 11).

1. He has the Spirit of God continually on Him (verse 2). Now Jesus, as far as we know, was not born with the Spirit of God upon Him. He was God who became man but when it came time to begin His ministry, He went to be baptized publicly by John the Baptist. When He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove and rested on Him, anointing Him as the Messiah. I do not understand how God the Spirit who is one with God the Son can do that but that is what happened. The reason it happened was to identify Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Sent One, the Christ of God. (That is why the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit was such a serious crime, an unpardonable sin. The underlying foundation of that sin was a total rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and of the proof of the Holy Spirit in His life.) When Peter first preached the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles in Acts 10:38, he pointed out that this anointing of Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and the works that followed were what set Him apart from every other man. These works by the Holy Spirit proved His Messiahship.

Four times in the book of Revelation, Jesus is identified as having the seven Spirits of God. This is a reference to verse 2 of our text. Here is proof again that this not just another royal descendant but that this little sprout of which Isaiah writes, this little shoot is the Holy One of God, the Messiah.

2. Not only does He have the Spirit of God continually on Him but also He judges righteously and faithfully (verses 3-5). Our Lord Jesus Christ judges so righteously and so faithfully that His name is called in Jeremiah 23:6 and 33:16, “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” In other words, this is not some unknowable, untouchable King who will rule the earth but a Lord who becomes righteousness for His people. We are unrighteous and unfaithful by nature but He changes that for those who believe in Him. He comes as the gentle, loving healer and counselor of men and He comes also as the King of kings and Lord of lords. He comes as the hope of this world, the Prince of Peace, and as the Man that men cannot forget. Most precious of all to me though is that He comes as the LORD our righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it this way, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

As we continue to look at Isaiah’s description of Jesus as the righteous and faithful judge, we see, in the middle of verse four, another of those transitions that take us from the past when Jesus came, meek but Spirit-filled ministering to those who are weak, into the future, when He establishes His kingdom on this earth. There is a change and this change is identified by the destruction of Christ’s earthly enemy.

Who is His enemy? Of course, all those who reject Him, the earth, but the end of verse four singles out a particular person. He is called “the wicked” or “the Wicked One”.

“…(W)ho is this individual here called the ‘Wicked One’?… The apostle Paul quotes this very scripture in 2 Thess. 2:8: ‘And then shall that Wicked One be revealed'”; (Jennings). This is directly talking about the Antichrist. This little sprout, this little shoot is different because of the character and the power of His justice. He will judge His enemy, the Wicked One.

3. He brings peace to all of creation (verses 6-9). These are amazing verses. Could this literally happen? Could the predator and its prey become playmates? Is it possible that we need never fear danger to our children from the wildlife around us? According to Hosea 2:18 God will make it possible. “In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely.”

That passage as well as Ezekiel 34:25 teach us that God will make a covenant with the animals of nature that will make the world safe for His people, Israel. When God makes peace in the Middle East and throughout the world, it will be world peace. Both nuclear bombs and rabies will be eliminated. There will be no more need for satellites to watch other nations and no need for protection from wild animals. How will it happen? This sprout, this shoot, will make it happen.

B. Isaiah not only presents Jesus as a sprout but also as “the root of Jesse.” This shows us the eternal establishment of peace on earth through Jesus Christ, who was of the house and lineage of David (Compare Revelation 5:5-6 and 22:16 with verses 10-16 to see that these verses are talking about Jesus Christ). Yes, Jesus started as a sprout, as a shoot coming up out of the decaying stump of the royal house of David but He will take root, He will become a tree. When He does, a new day will dawn on the earth. Verse 10 uses the phrase “in that day.” Verse 11 states, “It shall come to pass in that day…” The question now is this. What will happen that will reveal Jesus in His power and His glory?

1. He will rescue His people, Israel (verses 11-16). The beginning of verse 11 shows that God will bring Israel for the second time into the land. The first was when he called them out of Egypt. They are in the land now but Christ has not yet called them there. They still have not accepted Christ as their Messiah. There is coming a day, though, when they will accept Christ as their personal and national Savior. That is the second time that God is talking about in this verse. This little sprout, this little shoot that was despised and rejected in Isaiah 53 will come back in strength and in power and will rescue His people Israel.

Notice that the root of Jesse brings change to the landscape of the Middle East (verses 14-16). I am not talking about the political landscape although that will also be true. Christ is going to change the geological landscape of the Middle East when He returns. I do not understand exactly why or how but it will be another proof to the nations of who He is. He is no longer the little sprout, the shoot but a mighty, all-powerful root, which changes the landscape of the world if it should suit His purposes.

2. Not only will He rescue His people Israel but He will be worshiped by the Gentiles (verses 10 and 12). Verse 10 says they will seek Him. Romans 15:12 translates this phrase, “In Him the Gentiles will hope.”

Let me clarify what a Gentile is for our young people. Before Christ came, God divided the world into two groups: his people, the Jews and the rest, the Gentiles. When Christ came and died He tore down the ethnic dividing wall and took from the Jews and from the Gentiles and made a new people, the Church. This is what is meant by “the Gentiles will hope.” We have hope in and through Jesus Christ. We were not Jews. We were not of His people but God made a way of hope for us through Jesus Christ. He sent a little sprout, a little shoot to die for us and become the root on which we can stand and draw strength.

The Gentiles will not only seek Him but they will also rally to Him (verse 12). The wicked are destroyed, the Jews are restored but there are those who are not Jews who have turned to Christ. He was a despised, overlooked sprout but now He is the rally flag for all who serve Christ both now and in the future and forevermore. At that time peace on earth will be complete.

“Tragedy struck both the nation and the Longfellow family in 1861. Confederate Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard fired the opening salvos of the American Civil War on April 12th, and Fanny Longfellow was fatally burned in an accident in the library of Craigie House on July 10th. The day before the accident, Fanny Longfellow recorded in her journal: ‘We are all sighing for the good sea breeze instead of this stifling land one filled with dust. Poor Allegra is very droopy with heat, and Edie has to get her hair in a net to free her neck from the weight.’ After trimming some of seven year old Edith’s beautiful curls, Fanny decided to preserve the clippings in sealing wax. Melting a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell unnoticed upon her dress. The longed for sea breeze gusted through the window, igniting the light material of Fanny’s dress– immediately wrapping her in flames. In her attempt to protect Edith and Allegra, she ran to Henry’s study in the next room, where Henry frantically attempted to extinguish the flames with a nearby, but undersized throw rug. Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances– severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning. Too ill from his burns and grief, Henry did not attend her funeral. (Incidentally, the trademark full beard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow arose from his inability to shave after this tragedy.)”
“The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Longfellow wrote, ‘How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.’ A year after the incident, he wrote, ‘I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.’ Longfellow’s journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: ‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.’ Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes. (Charles did not die but it was a serious wound.) (T)he Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow’s journal. Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, “Christmas Bells.” We have part of this poem in our hymnbook. We call it, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

Christmas Bells
1. I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

2. And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

3. Till, ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

4. Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The Carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

5. 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, good-will to men!’

6. Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!’

If you are a believer, you have peace with God. Do you have the peace of God? Philippians tells us in 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing but in prayer and thanksgiving let your request be make known unto God; and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.” Christmas can be a troubling time. We saw in Longfellow’s the difficulties sorrow brings. Eighteen years later he wrote in a poem that he still suffered from sorrow. In your sorrow, in your troubles, in your worries and difficulties you can have peace. The peace of God. He began as a little sprout, a little shoot in Nazareth but He can be a root of strength and nourishment in your life. Go to Him, throw yourself on Him for strength and insight and direction and help in the time of need.

This peace on earth, good-will to men began as a little sprout, a little shoot. It still is not fully grown. Christ is yet to be revealed as the Root. That will happen when He returns. Yes, hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men. The thunder of our weapons drown the sound of peace on earth, good-will to men. But God is not dead, He neither slumbers nor sleeps. Wrong shall fail and right shall prevail with peace on earth, good-will to men.

How is it possible to have this peace? According to Romans 5:1, “…having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only possible through faith in Him. He died for you, so you could have peace with God.

Will you trust Him today? Will you let Christ make your peace with God for you by becoming your righteousness.

The Hope of Christmas (A Sermon for First Advent from Isaiah 8:1-22) November 29, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Advent, Christmas, Faith, Hope, Incarnation, Isaiah, Jesus, Messiah, Religion, Sermons, Signs and Wonders, Virgin Birth.
add a comment

THE HOPE OF CHRISTMAS
Isaiah 8:1-22

INTRODUCTION: This advent season we are looking at “Christmas According to Isaiah”. Chapters 7-11 of the book of Isaiah all come from the same time period of Isaiah’s ministry. It is about 700 years before Jesus Christ would be born. Ahaz, king of Judah is looking to Assyria for help against his two enemies to the north: (1) his relatives, the northern kingdom of Israel and (2) their ally, Syria. Isaiah’s message to Ahaz and to Judah is depend on God not man for help. You will be judged, in fact, God will use your ally, Assyria, to judge you. However, God will not forsake His people. There is hope but only for those of His people who turn to God.

This is the hope of Christmas. These are tough days for many but there is hope for a glorious future for those who turn to Christ.

I. God confirms this hope through a child (vs. 1-4). Now this is not the first sign that is given to Ahaz and the people of Judah. In Isaiah 7:13-17, Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign and Ahaz refuses. God, however, through Isaiah gives him a sign anyway. It is the sign of a child. We know that this prophecy is referred to in Matthew as the prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ. However, as is not uncommon in Old Testament prophecy, there is a double fulfillment: a near fulfillment and a far off fulfillment. The fulfillment through the virgin born Christ is still at this time 700 years in the future but God also gave another child, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, to be born and the purpose of His birth was to confirm the prophecy and to confirm the hope that would be connected to that prophecy.

a. How the prophecy concerning the child is given is described in verses 1-2. Now there are several important things that we need to notice.

i. First, this prophecy was intended to be public. It was written on a large scroll so that it could be easily and readily read. Witnesses were named who would be able at the fulfillment of the prophecy to confirm that the prophecy had been given before the fulfillment.

It is very important to God that people have good reason to believe His message of hope. When God speaks of hope, He speaks of a certainty, a guarantee. If you purchased something this past Black Friday, you undoubtedly saved your receipts. If you decide to return an item, the receipt tells you whether your hope of getting your money back is a wish or a certainty. In the same way, God gave the sign of this child as a confirmation, an assurance that He would not forsake His people but would save them in the end.

Is this not one reason why the virgin birth of Christ is important? That Christ was born of a virgin confirms for us that we have hope in eternity. If it were to be proven that Jesus was not the far future fulfillment of this prophecy, then our hope in Him would be based on the lies of Matthew and Luke. He was, however, born of a virgin. Both Matthew and Luke point to verifiable eyewitnesses who could verify that Jesus truly was born of a virgin.

Once I spoke with an evangelical pastor who felt that it did not really matter if Jesus was born of a virgin. What was important was that one believes in Jesus. Why then did God give the prophecy? Faith in Christ must be based on the certainty that Jesus alone fits the prophecy of the Scriptures. Anything less is like going to the store without a receipt and wishing for an exchange.

ii. Let’s look now at the prophecy (verses 3-4). Isaiah and his wife, the prophetess, would have a son named Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. His name was actually the prophecy: “hurry to the loot, swift to the prey.” (verses 3-4). According to the prophecy, before this baby would speak his first words, the meaning of his name would come to pass.

b. The prophecy concerning the child is fulfilled. The beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy is found in 2 Kings 16:9, “So the king of Assyria heeded [Ahaz’s call for help]; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin.” Chapter 17 then describes the fall of Israel to the Assyrians.

II. So what is the message of hope that is found in this prophecy? It is this, “God protects His people even in judgment” (vs. 5-10).

a. This judgment comes because of lack of faith in God (vs. 5-7). The northern kingdom depended on man rather than God as represented by their rejection of the waters of Shiloah and because of their rejection, the Assyrians came like a flood and wiped out their armies and took their people captive.

b. Mercy, however, is available to God’s people (verse 8a). We see this in that the flood of judgment would not overwhelm them but rather come up to their neck. This is exactly what happened. The Assyrians who defeated Syria and Israel were not able to overcome Judah. Judah suffered much because of the Assyrians but God delivered Judah from destruction.

c. Why? Because God is with them (verses 8b-10). Isaiah reminds them in these verses that Immanuel, “God with us,” will deliver them from their enemies. Because God is with His people, they can have hope. Their future, even in the day of judgment, is certain and victorious because “God is with us.”

“No wonder when John Wesley lay dying in 1791, he roused from his sleep long [enough] to open his eyes and exclaim, “The best of all is, God is with us!” Then he closed his eyes and died” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Overcoming Loneliness”).

III. With this message of hope, God warns of the danger of rejecting His confirmed Word (vs. 11-15).

a. He tells Isaiah, “Do not fear those who reject Me” (vs. 11-12).

“Isaiah’s message must have seemed crazy: ‘Don’t fear the mighty army you see arrayed against you. Though they have far more soldiers, you have something they don’t. You have Immanuel on your side.’” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Are You Prepared to Suffer for Christ?“). For that reason, many accused Isaiah and other prophets of the LORD of collusion with the enemy. This is similar to what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 10:28 when He said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

b. “Do not fear those who reject Me but rather fear the One who is to be hallowed (vs. 13-14a).” To hallow God is to set Him above all others. No one can veto His Word. He is the LORD and there is none else.

c. Destruction is the end of His rejecters (v. 14b-15). It is not just that those who reject God, who reject Christ, will stumble and be offended. The picture in these verses is that they will be destroyed by the very one they stumbled over. The one who they found so offensive will be their judge.

IV. God gives hope only to those who trust His Word (vs. 16-22), that is, believe in His confirming signs. In those days it concerned Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz but today the sign in whom we must believe is the virgin born Son of God, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us. The apostle Paul in Romans 9:33 took part of verse 14 and another portion from Isaiah to make this very point, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”*

a. Our hope is confirmed by His works (vs. 16-18). The signs that God gives confirm His word and give us the ability to wait, to hope. The difficult part of the certain hope of the Christian is the waiting. The first verse of one of the carols we sang today, written by John Wesley’s brother, Charles, describes very well the difficulty of waiting, of hoping.

“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.”

Isaiah and his two sons (Shear-Jashub is mentioned in Isaiah 7:3 and means “the remnant shall return”) were signs of hope in their day but men had to wait 700 years before Immanuel was born. Immanuel, God with us, Jesus lived and died and rose again and returned to His Father’s side at the right hand of the throne of God 2000 years ago and we wait, we hope, we sing…

“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus…
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a Child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now (can you not hear the longing in this carol?) Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

That is the hope of Christmas!

b. Our insight, our ability to see the truth, to wait, to hope is conditioned by faith in His Word (vs. 19-22).

There were those who offered an alternative to God’s Word, God’s law, God’s signs. They said, “Go to those who can speak with the dead and find out what God is doing!”

As in those days, many “In our relativistic age… are offended by any suggestion that there is only one way of salvation. But that is precisely what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Those words must be taken at face value. We have no right to water them down. Sometimes people speak of Jesus as if he were some kind of great moral teacher. The people who say that generally don’t like John 14:6. It doesn’t fit the concept of a great moral teacher. If Jesus isn’t the way, the truth, and the life–if there really is another way to the Father–then Jesus isn’t a great moral teacher. He’s either the most self-deceived man in all history or he is a liar. In either case, he’s not a great teacher. You can’t pick and choose with Jesus. Either take what he says at face value or reject him altogether. Those are the only two choices you have.” (from Ray Pritchard’s sermon “Stumbling Stone or Cornerstone?“).

That is what Isaiah is saying in this prophecy. Believe God and His Word and you will know the truth. You will not be plunged deeper and deeper into darkness but will be enlightened and will have hope even in a dark world.

CONCLUSION: Our Future is Absolutely Certain.
 There are many fulfilled prophecies related to Jesus Christ in Isaiah (that Jesus will be born of a virgin), in Micah (that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem), in the Psalms (that Jesus would suffer, die, and rise from the dead), in Daniel and Hosea and elsewhere. When we look at those prophecies we know that we can expect that our hope for the future will also be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

INVITATION: Would you bow your heads and close your eyes for a few moments? This is good news. Perhaps you have heard this good news before, perhaps many times. Is it not time that you believed it? Is it not time for you to say, I am going to trust Christ alone as my salvation. Would you do that today? Would anyone like to do that at this moment?

Perhaps you are here and you are interested but are not yet ready to make a commitment to Christ but would like me to pray for you today, that God would help you to know the truth. My prayer for you is nothing magical but the God who hears and answers prayer wants to bring you to Himself. If you would like prayer today, would you raise your hand?

If you raised your hand, you need to talk to someone you can trust. I would be glad to speak with you. There are others who would be glad to speak with you. Perhaps you would like to speak to the person you came with and ask them to show you how to trust Christ as Savior. Do it today!

Maybe you have a lot of questions. We can help you to get connected with someone who will take the time to meet with you weekly and answer your questions. Please let us know today, if we can help you in this way.

(Thanks to Ray Pritchard for the quotations from his sermons.)