Trust the promise of the Lord/Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 reads: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” This statement is made to Ahaz, king of Judah in the midst of a national crisis (nations were gathering to invade Judah). Isaiah is sent by the Lord to tell Ahaz not to look to foreign powers for help, but to trust the promise of the Lord.
The argument is very clear. Isaiah points Ahaz to the prophecy of the coming Messiah. If the Lord has given such a great promise as this, will not he also give your lesser things, such as protecting you from foreign enemies? Paul makes a similar argument in Romans 8:32.
Ahaz didn’t want this sign from the Lord. He had already made his mind up on the course he saw as best. It did not include trusting the Lord. The sign still stood, and Ahaz was judged in light of what he did with the revealed will of God. Thus will all men be judged. Many reject the sign of Christ born into this world. But God says he is the only Savior of men.
The sign still stands for us as well. We are in no less difficulty in our lives than Ahaz was. We all face the ultimate enemy, death, which we have no power to defeat. Facing a dark threat, Ahaz chose his savoir from men, rather than God. He chose to believe the promise of a duplicitous king rather than a divine King. It is shameful for a creature to reject the promise of the God who made him.
Assyria proved to be a damaging ally. Ahaz made a miserable choice. The context of this prophecy of Christ’s birth is important to remember. Christ comes into a world of darkness and death because men in sin reject God and God’s glory. He comes to bring peace; to give light and life to all that come to him. He offers himself freely, and delivers on his promise to all who call upon him.
Do no slight the honor of God in salvation. God does not love the impure nature of men. He does love Christ’s pure nature. Because God has just anger against the impure nature of man, the Son of God came to take our nature in order to heal the breach between us and God. He satisfied the justice of God on the cross, and by grace, views those in Christ with favor and as children of God, forgiven all sin.
Christ not only achieves a right relationship with God for us with respect to God’s justice, he also gives us ever increasing joyful fellowship with God, and the promise of eternal life. When we think of Bethlehem, we should see the glory of God, and know that Christ was born that we might find life in glorifying God and enjoying him forever. All these things God vows as true.
The promises of men will all come to nothing. We must look to the promise of God. All the promises of God are in Christ. It is on the promise of God we must hang our lives, soul, and all eternity upon. We can rely on Christ without limit, and it will never be in vain.
What we need above all in this world is sincere faith in Christ. If you turn to Luke chapter one you see an example of it in Mary, the virgin who was written of in Isaiah 7. An angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would conceive and bear a son who would be named Jesus (Savior) and be the called the Son of the Most High. He will also be the promised ruler from David.
Mary inquires how this can be possible since she was a virgin, to which the angel explains it will be of the power of the Holy Spirit, and that nothing is impossible with God. Mary responds with the first word that Isaiah had used to announce the prophecy of a virgin giving birth to a son: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
Mary knew the Scriptures. She knew the prophecy in Isaiah 7 of a virgin bearing a son called Immanuel (God with us). She wasn’t aware of all the details about Christ that we are, but she knew the substance of the promise of the Messiah as Savior and Ruler. Her faith was in God’s word, God’s promise. She cast herself upon him, believing him to be faithful.
It is a wonderful thing to see a soul believe God. Mary was willing to become a scandal for the Lord. “Let it be to me,” she says. She believed. May the same be said of you and me.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is the pastor of The First Presbyterian Church of Union.