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God Sent His Son, part 2 - Galatians 4:1-4 and others

Why should we listen to Jesus? Why should we care about the birth of Christ, or the life of Christ, or the death of Christ, or the resurrection of Christ, or the teachings of Christ? Because God sent Him!

Galatians 4:1-4; Isaiah 7:10-14; Isaiah 9:1-7; Revelation 19:11-16; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:14; John 5:22-24; Luke 9:28-36

Dec 15, 2013 12:00 PM

MP3 audio icon God-Sent-His-Son_Part-2_12-15-2013.mp3 — MP3 audio, 15539 kB (15912231 bytes)

[10] Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, [11] “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” [12] But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” [13] And he said, “Hear then, O house of David!  Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? [14] 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 7:10-14 ESV)

A few days ago I saw a news clip regarding a large animated ad placed on the side of one of the buildings in Times Square by an atheist group.  Maybe you saw it also.  The ad began by asking the question, “Who needs Christ in Christmas?”  Then a hand appears, X’s out the name of Christ, and the word “Nobody” answers the question.

According to many, Jesus is totally unnecessary for the celebration of Christmas.  And you don’t need to be an atheist to hold that position.  The vast majority of Christmas celebrations are held in virtual Bethlehems at the inn where there is no room for Jesus.  So the announcement in Times Square is not shocking.  There are millions of virtual atheists celebrating a Christ-less Christmas.

The original virtual atheist in regard to Christmas might be King Ahaz.  God commands him to ask for a sign that God is with him in his current conflict with the enemies surrounding Jerusalem.  But in hypocritical pietism he claims that he doesn’t want to put God to the test by asking for a sign.  But he is actually putting God to the test by NOT asking for a sign.  God commands him to do so, and he prefers that God would not provide any reason for Ahaz to trust Him.  He prefers to trust in the horses and chariots of his allies than in the God of Heaven and Earth.

So, as is always the case, God works in spite of who Ahaz is and gives him (and us) a sign anyway.  And to tell you the truth, I am grateful Ahaz didn’t ask for a sign because the one God chose to give is genuinely awesome.  God told Hezekiah to ask for a sign and he asked for a relatively lame sign, unless you’re an astronomer.  He asked that the shadow cast by the sun on the temple steps move backwards.

This sign is truly magnificent: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Ahaz didn’t want a sign, so Isaiah turns to the entire house of David, the royal household, and gives them this very special sign which is intended to communicate to them in a very peculiar way, in a miraculous way, that would make God’s presence with them unmistakable.  However, it seems to have been unmistakable only to them because there has been much debate about the correct interpretation of this passage.

Who is the virgin?  In the immediate context in which this sign was given, who should Ahaz and the house of David have been looking for?  We know who the virgin was not.  It was not the wife of Ahaz or Isaiah.  The son to be given who would rule over Judah was not Ahaz’s son because he was 13 when Isaiah spoke these words.  It wasn’t the son of Isaiah because his son never ruled over Judah.

What we do know is the inspired interpretation of this passage by Matthew.  But before we go there, take a look at Isaiah 8.

[5] The LORD spoke to me again: [6] “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, [7] therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against them the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory.  And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, [8] and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.

[9] Be broken, you peoples, and be shattered; give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. [10] Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (Isaiah 8:5-10 ESV)

Assyria will come, and her armies will overrun the nation of Judah.  But not permanently.  The nations cannot ultimately prevail over God’s people because God is with us! As the apostle Paul said in his rhetorical question, If God is for us, who can stand against us? Nobody!  God is WITH His people because God is FOR His people.  Just as the Gentiles could not overthrow God’s people apart from God Himself causing the to do so, the world cannot defeat God’s redeemed people because God causes them to overcome.

So within two chapters in Isaiah, we see this child that is promised referred to as Immanuel, or God With Us.  Now look at chapter 9.  Chapter 8 ends with prophecy concerning the suffering which rebellious Judah will soon experience at the hand of her enemies, but it will not last forever.

[9:1]  But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

[2]  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

[3] You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

[4] For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

[5] For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.

[6] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

[7] Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:1-7 ESV)

Three times in three chapters, this baby who will be born to a virgin and called Immanuel is mentioned.  And it gets more and more profound and wonderful.  Here in verse 6, Isaiah makes the point that this child is not just one of us, but He is being given to us. He is a gift from God.  That should be clear from His origin.  He has no earthly father.  A virgin gives birth to Him.  God is His Father.  And it is the Father who gives this Child, this Son to us.  Even here, 500 years before the birth of Jesus, we read of God sending us, and giving us His Son.

. . . and the government shall be upon his shoulder - What government?  Well, Jesus Himself said all government was upon HIs shoulder: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18 ESV).  This Child, whose sign is (among other things) His birth to a virgin, will reign over everything.  He is King over all of heaven and over all the earth.

Wonderful Counselor - Nearly everyone agrees with this name which Isaiah gives to Christ.  Of course, Jesus is a wonderful counselor.  He is a good teacher.  He is a great story-teller.  Yes, the Sermon on the Mount is timeless and wise.  But . .

Mighty God - Here is the rub.  Everlasting Father.  Prince of Peace.

This Child who will be born of a virgin, whose name is God With Us, will become the Ruler of all men.  He will establish His throne, He will establish peace, He will establish justice and righteousness that will never end.  His will be an eternal rule, from this time forth and forevermore.

Q:  How will that happen?

A:  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

God is zealous for this to take place.  It is God who sends His Son.  It is God who grants Him all authority over all things and all peoples.  It is the Father who establishes the Lord Jesus upon His eternal throne.  IT is God who has granted Immanuel the authority to judge the nations.  It is a zealous God who will cause all of this to take place.  He is zealous for righteousness and justice, and it is His Son whom He has sent into the world who will bring everlasting righteousness and justice to pass.

How will Christ establish this kingdom wherein ONLY righteousness dwells?

[11] Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. [12] His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.

[13] He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. [15] From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.  He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. [16] On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16 ESV)

This One who comes to bring the final judgment of God’s wrath upon those who refuse His Son, is the same One who was spoken of by Isaiah who would be born of a virgin.  He is the same one whom the Scriptures refer to as Immanuel.  He is the One whom Matthew speaks of as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic word to evil and unbelieving Ahaz.

[18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. [19] And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. [20] But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. [21] She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

[23] “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel(which means, God with us).

[24] When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, [25] but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)

It is quite alright, as far as the unbelieving world is concerned, for Jesus to be a wonderful counselor.  And as long as He stays a mere counselor, even a wonderful counselor, He is acceptable.  Counselors only offer advice.  But Jesus is God with us”. And as if that weren’t enough, He is also Mighty God with us.  He can even be the Prince of Peace, and bring joy to the world, and He can certainly be given to men with whom God is pleased.

[14] “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14 ESV)

I think the assumption is everybody thinks they are “among those with whom God is pleased”.  But I think the verse at least implies there may be those with whom God is not pleased.  And there is no peace to be had from God for them.  And His Son whom He has sent into the world will be the One who separates the two groups--those with whom God is pleased, and those with whom He is displeased.  Then, acting in His role as the Prince of Peace, He will establish an everlasting peace in His kingdom, from His throne, by removing all those who would defy that peace.  Like those people who have no use for Jesus, who deny His right to rule over them, who hate the thought of having to answer to His authority over them for the way they have lived their sinful lives, and who would even deny His existence in a feeble attempt to avoid Him entirely.

It is a dangerous thing to not feel the need for Jesus.  To not know or care who He is.  To repudiate Him as God and King.  Because it is God the Father who sent Him into the world as the Savior of the world.  And whoever does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent Him.

[22] The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, [23] that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.  Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. [24] Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.  He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:22-24 ESV)

It is a dangerous thing to dishonor Jesus Christ.  For someone to say nobody needs Jesus in Christmas is to say nobody needs God.  Which is precisely what is being said in Times Square where millions and millions of people can see defiance against God on display.  The entire world can see these small men and women shaking their collective little fists in the air at the Mighty God and shouting, “We don’t need you!  We don’t like You!  We don’t want You!  We hate You!”

I find it hard to believe such people are among those with whom God is pleased.  It seems clear there is no peace among them.  Why else would they go to such trouble and such an extravagant expense to voice their complaints against God, against Jesus Christ, and against Christians by putting their ad on the side of a building in Times Square?  Are they not like Ahaz?  “I will not ask for a sign.  I will not put God to the test.  I will not listen to what He has to say.”

Beloved, God sent His Son.  It is GOD ALMIGHTY who sent His Son.  The Child that was born to us was not the son of an evil king, or even a prophet.  The Child who was born of the virgin was the Son of God SENT to us.  That is supposed to be the message of this Christmas season.  It’s supposed to be the perpetual message we preach and teach, at Christmas and always.

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. [29] And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. [30] And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, [31] who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. [32] Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. [33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here.  Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. [34] As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. [35] And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” [36] And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.  And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (Luke 9:28-36 ESV)

Why should we listen to Jesus?  Why should we care about the birth of Christ, or the life of Christ, or the death of Christ, or the resurrection of Christ, or the teachings of Christ?  Because God sent Him!  Jesus is His Son!  We MUST listen to Him!

If someone doesn’t feel the need for Jesus in Christmas, one can certainly enjoy a nice holiday filled with presents and visits with family and friends, and lots of food and drink and parties without any reference to Jesus.  Millions of people do just that.  But I would strongly urge anyone who feels no need for Christ to seriously reconsider.  He is much more than a baby in a manger.  He is far more than a child born to a virgin.  He is infinitely more than a good teacher of morals and values.  He is God.  He was sent to us by His Father.  We must, we MUST listen to Him.


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