“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
“Just follow the signs,” I tell people coming to town on the interstate. It sounds simple but inanimate signs, even voiced sign posts on your GPS direction system often prove hard to follow. All of the images we’ve been looking at in Isaiah are things. Their tangibility makes the meaning of the message very accessible. But this week the sign lives and breathes. This relational sign can change lives. This sign must be followed.
King Ahaz is hanging onto his crown by his fingernails, pouring all his effort into today’s problem, and God gives him encouragement by pointing to a child. What would the future be without them? On the other hand, how could a child possibly contribute to the solution for today? God is challenging him to follow the sign and believe that there is a future, a future in God’s hands, a chance to change his life.
Isaiah lived and breathed this ongoing trust in God, trust that carries through to the next generation even when the present looks tenuous. “Look at me and the children whom the Lord has given me: we are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts who dwells on Mount Zion.” Isaiah 9:18 NAB
Looking at my next generation shifts my perspective of today’s trouble and sends me to my knees knowing my future and theirs is in God’s hands. We live our present best when we broadcast God’s sign.
Our Kenya project is also all about a future for the generations with the ultimate purpose of showing that God’s hands are on the project.
Follow the signs today in prayer, think of Kenya, think of your generation, and the next, and the next. Pray that God’s hand would be present and that each generation would be sign of God’s presence.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” 12 But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” 13 Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:10-14
If you’re ever tempted to think that God is impatient with you, look no further than His Word above. Stubborn Ahaz, fearful of impending attack, refuses God’s command to ask for a sign. God says, “Pay attention – I’m giving you one anyway”. Not just any sign but THE SIGN! – Immanuel, God with us, Jesus — born of a virgin.
God rarely seems to give us the sign that we expect. Did Noah expect a rainbow or Moses a hand turned leprous and then restored? God the Father, perfect and holy; Jesus our Redeemer and Lord, The Holy Spirit, counsellor and comforter, are really all we need. Sometimes, God will give us signs – reminding us of His love; pointing us back to the straight and righteous path. Be open to signs from God each and every day of your life – knowing that THE SIGN, Immanuel, God with us, given to Ahaz through Isaiah, is THE SIGN — for you!
There are many things we want from God or would like for him to bring forth in our lives. They could include peace, joy, wisdom, and abundance. God wants us to come to Him and pray boldly; to believe in, have faith and trust in God’s steadfast love for us that if we ask, we shall receive (John 15:7 NIV). God wants absolute dependence from His children. However, fear can stop us from praying boldly due to doubt of God’s allegiance to us, as is seen in Ahaz’s case.
He did not believe that God would deliver him from the burden of his woes so he did not come boldly to God despite Him demanding that he “Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!” (Isaiah 7:10-11). How many times does that happen to us? We desperately want something in our hearts but we are too afraid to ask? I know I am. I fear that I will be able to rise to the task and I’m right; I can’t take on the task with my earthly strength but with God’s help, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 NIV So please do not be afraid to pray boldly because as Philippians 4:19 NIV promises, God will meet all of our needs; this applies to the clean water crisis in Kenya. Please include in your bold prayers of personal provision that God equip us as a church body with God-sized strength to meet this challenge.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign…….” Isaiah speaks this beautiful reassurance from God to King Ahaz. Throughout scripture we find other “signs” and promises of care and protection for God’s people. We first find one in Genesis 3:15 when God promises a way out after the fall; we find one in Gen. 9:14 in the rainbow after the flood; in Ex. 14: God gives a sign as he separates the sea so Israel could cross over to safety; the beautiful proclamation of the angel to the shepherds in Luke 2:12 tells of another; the boatload of fish supplied to the disciples by Jesus after his resurrection shows us another; and the awesome statement of Christ’s second coming is found in Rev. 1:5b – 8. These are just a few examples of God’s signs in his word. You might like to find others.
Of course, the ultimate sign of God’s love, care and salvation is the one whose birth we very soon will celebrate – JESUS OUR SAVIOR. He alone can give us abundant life both here and in eternity. We can give him all our dreams, hopes, cares, difficulties – even our tragedies. We can trust him and look to him in all circumstances of our lives.
This Christmas, we are bringing the people of Kenya a new hope: sustainable water and crops for their future well-being. We also have the blessing of giving them something much more precious – Jesus a Savior – who will bring them eternal hope and life with Him. May your Christmas be blessed as you worship the ultimate Sign – our Lord and Savior “Oh Come, Let Us Adore HIM”!
“And this will be a sign for you. You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 NAB
The angel is announcing earth shaking good news. All people are receiving a Messiah and Lord. This is far reaching and too big to comprehend! Have you ever wondered if the Shepherds thought they were somehow eavesdropping on someone else’s message? Yes, this earth changing news will impact them, but history marches by shepherds without a nod.
The motivating part of the announcement is The Sign, a normal ordinary baby spending its first hours in ordinary, even shepherd friendly surroundings. God is doing something that doesn’t just impact you. He invites you to be involved.
Well, the shepherds get involved alright. They go and see and go and tell. Now, have you seen the invitation that was delivered to you in a manger? Take some quiet moments to “go and see” and worship The Sign. Then listen carefully for His invitation to “go and tell” as you celebrate with friends and family. Pray also for the invitation to get involved in Kenya and this seeing and telling as the Isaiah 58:10 projects get under way.
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