Christmas demands a response. This Christmas respond in faith to God and the Nations with the words of a humble young virgin lady “I am the Lord’s servant.”
A little background information might be helpful before reading our text.
Politics and war have not changed much; especially, in the Middle Eastern part of world! In the section we are about to read Isaiah has confronted faithless King Ahaz. When Israel and Syria set out to conquer Judah Ahaz made an alliance with the Assyrians that is an empire along the Upper Tigris River north of Babylon. The capital was Nineveh.
So rather then trusting in God as Isaiah encourages Ahaz to do (Isaiah 7:7-11) he places his confidence in the Assyrians.
The Kings of Israel and Judah did not get much worse than King Ahaz for example.
2 Kings 16:3 (NLT)
3 Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel, even sacrificing his own son in the fire.* In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.
And in seeking help from Assyria rather then God he was willing to steel from the Temple!
2 Kings 16:8 (NLT)
8 Then Ahaz took the silver and gold from the Temple of the LORD and the palace treasury and sent it as a payment to the Assyrian king.
Just to help you understand how low this man was let me say something about what happened to our family over Thanksgiving. Because grandmother is too weak to travel we left her in the home that is helping take care of her. However, that day while we were all celebrating Thanksgiving someone went into her room and while she slept stole her wedding rings!
Isaiah told Ahaz these two kings (Israel and Syria) would not succeed in conquering Judah and even offered Ahaz the opportunity to humble himself and ask for a sign from God to verify this prediction would come true. Ahaz, however, was too arrogant to do even this, so Isaiah not only prophesies the end of Judah through Assyria, but in the process shares the good news of the coming of Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:13-17 (NLT)
13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? 14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 15 By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. 16 For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
17 “Then the LORD will bring things on you, your nation, and your family unlike anything since Israel broke away from Judah. He will bring the king of Assyria upon you!”
KING AHAZ’ RESPONSE…
What Ahaz basically said was I’d rather trust in man that is the Assyrians than in the One True God. Ironically enough it would be the Assyrians that would defeat King Ahaz and Judah. This is what Isaiah says towards the end of the text we just read (Isaiah 7:17). However, I want to show you a Kingdom much larger then any of these!
Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin* will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
This prophecy is about the Immanuel to be born. Later Isaiah will speak about the birth of Emmanuel (Isaiah 9:6), and in (Isaiah 11:6ff.) the Immanuel's reigning Kingdom!
This is by no means the first Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah’s birth. For example; remember, the words of Nathan telling David these words.
2 Samuel 7:11b-17 (NLT)
“ ‘Furthermore, the LORD declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me* for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’ ”
17 So Nathan went back to David and told him everything the LORD had said in this vision.
The prophet Isaiah says that the sign of the Lord would be that the virgin will be with child. Approximately 700 years after Isaiah made this prophesy about a baby that would change everything God would address someone else; however, unlike Ahaz her response is favorable.
Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!*”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel* forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.*”
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
After the angel Gabriel gave Mary the annunciation of Jesus’ birth he then concluded saying that “nothing is impossible with God.”
Luke 1:38 (NLT)
“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Mary believes; wow, such faith!
Furthermore, this humble young lady then goes to visit her relative whom also is about to have a miraculous baby that will be named John the Baptist.
“Elizabeth, Elizabeth! It is me Mary.”
Luke 1:41 (NLT)
41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth then points out how blessed Mary is for believing that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!
COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE TWO RESPONSES…
God has spoken to both Ahaz and Mary. Ahaz did not want to have anything to do with the Lord (Isaiah 7:12). While Mary believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished. I am humbled at the faith of Mary that she believed that this Baby of hers would come into the world and change it forevermore (John 3:16).
Let’s bring this message to where we live. How might someone respond to Christmas that grew up in the church; however, left it after high school and has only returned because of a traumatic event in their own family such as divorce, death of a parent, or the loss of a job? How might the person that attends church only on rare occasions such as a joyful celebration, like a 50th wedding anniversary or on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or on December 25th respond? The majority of people living in the USA and globally have no church affiliation. What do these people the ones who have no church say about Christmas? Well, at best the majority would say that Christmas is about a baby and then leave it at that. But He is sooo much more than just a baby! He would grow up and lead a sinless life, he would be falsely accused of something he did not do, he would then be put to death for our sin in the most horrible way crucifixion; however, three days later he rose again! He then appeared on earth for 40 days before ascending back into Heaven. And as Emmanuel has demanded a response in the past this is what He asks us to believe today.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,* baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
OUR RESPONSE TO THE GREAT COMMISSION THIS CHRISTMAS…
Are we going to have arrogance like Ahaz or faith like Mary? What is our response? Will we go to the majority who only see Christmas as a baby nothing more and nothing less? Let's respond with belief that “nothing is impossible with God;” therefore, I am the Lord’s servant.