A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on December 19, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether The Lord Himself Will Give You a Sign! Isaiah 7:10-14Have you ever been in a situation where you wished God would give you a sign things would be okay?  Actually God does that.  It’s just a matter of seeing those signs and then knowing what they mean.  That’s what our meditation this morning is going to help us do.  It’s based on Isaiah 7:10-14.  It says, “Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”  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?  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.”   When you’re driving down I-95, the closer you get to your destination, the more signs for it you’ll see.  This sign is on God’s straight and narrow road to heaven.  This road started in the Garden of Eden.  Right after man fell into sin, God said to Satan so Adam and Eve could hear it, “I will put warfare between you (Satan) and the woman, and between your seed (that is, unbelievers) and hers (that’s believers).  He (this is one specific seed) will crush your head, and you will strike His heal – Genesis 3:15.”  The “He” is the Lord, because only the Lord could crush Satan’s power, yet at the same time the “He” is a man, born of the woman.  And so already in this first prophesy of the Savior, the virgin birth is implied, because He is both true God and true man.   The next major marker on God’s road to heaven was that the Savior would be a descendent of Abraham.  1200 years later it was further revealed that He would be a descendent of King David’s royal ay line.  Our text this morning is 300 years after David, and Satan is working hard to close God’s road to heaven.  The descendents of Abraham, the Children of Israel, and a descendent of King David, whose name was Ahaz, had completely fallen away from God.  As a result, a civil war was going on between the northern ten tribes of Israel, and the two southern tribes of Judah.  The northern tribes wanted to kill Ahaz and replace him with a puppet king under their control.  But that would also mean putting an end to David’s royal line, and if that happened, there would be no Savior.   Most people then including King Ahaz didn’t care.  They only cared about themselves.  And so, when Isaiah told Ahaz that God was going to protect him, Ahaz’ attitude was, “Yeah, right.”  Just before this, he had lost 120,000 of his best soldiers, and now Jerusalem was surrounded.  Still, Ahaz refused to turn to God for help.  He had built a water supply system he hoped would make Jerusalem siege-proof, plus He had paid off the Assyrians to come and rescue him.  That, he felt would be enough.      Well, God did not want to give up on Ahaz.  And so He invited him again to put his trust in the Lord.  He said, “Ask me for a sign that I’m going to protect you, and whatever it is, I will do it.”  Ahaz refused.  Have you ever known anyone who was this bound and determined not to trust in God?  Maybe we were at times.  We’ll talk a little more about that later.  But getting back to Ahaz, even though He did not want a sign from God, God gave him one anyway.  THE virgin, THE descendent of David, whom God had foretold in the Garden of Eden would conceive and give birth to a Son, and He would be called, “Immanuel”, which means, “God with us.”   For Ahaz this sign meant that he would survive this siege of Jerusalem, because the northern king’s attempt to end David’s line would fail.  However, this sign did not change Ahaz’s mind about God, or the minds of the people in general, and so God gave them additional signs.  In the verses after our text, Isaiah warns them that before Immanuel was born, Judea would be ruined.  It would cease being a land flowing with milk and honey.  Also, there would be 70 years in which they would be slaves in Babylon, and when a remnant of them returned, they would all live in extreme poverty, including the Savior someday.  These were certainly not happy signs.  Yet God gave them to His people in love, so that as they suffered in their poverty, they would constantly be reminded of THE sign that God was sending a Savior from sin.   Today people can be just as stubborn as people in Isaiah’s day.  Immanuel has come.  Yet there are those who don’t want to hear about it.  They don’t want to see a manger in the park.  And they don’t want anyone to wish them a merry Christmas.  Why not?  They’re convinced God can’t be trusted if He even exists, and they’d rather rely on themselves or on science, because that way too they can keep living life their way.   But God doesn’t give up easily.  He has given many more signs. The cross is the sign of His love.  The empty grave is the sign of His victory over sin’s punishment.  And the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost is His sign that He Himself gives repentance by listening to His Word, and that Jesus is coming a second time to be our Judge.  Do these signs impress you?  They don’t everyone.  For this reason God has also given the world little signs that keep pointing us back to His big signs.  For example, just like Judea would be impoverished before Jesus’ first coming (and it was), so the world will be impoverished before His second coming.  There will be wars, famines, earthquakes, and threats of complete annihilation.  Especially there will be lots of false doctrine to turn people away from Christ, and the love of most will grow cold.    Sound scary?  It is.  So, are you still thinking that you can make it through this life on your own, or that you don’t need God’s Word everyday because your faith is already strong enough?  If you answer is “yes”, look at the signs, and stop being be hard headed or hard hearted.  On the other hand if these signs shake us up a little, if we feel like our faith is under siege from every which direction (and it is), then keep looking to God’s big sign.  “A virgin will conceive and give birth to a son.  He is Immanuel.”   He is with us, and through His Word and Sacrament He will keep us in true faith.  In fact after Isaiah told of all the bad stuff that was coming, he prophesied in the verses after our text what Jesus will be saying to His Heavenly Father on the last day.  He will say, “Here I am and the children you have given me – Isaiah 8:18.”  We are God’s children; so don’t be afraid of anything, but keep trusting in the Lord and hearing His Word.   However some might argue, “The Word is just words.  I want to see proof.”  Well, visible proofs don’t convince anyone.  They didn’t Ahaz, because he refused visible proof.  They didn’t the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, because they saw His miracles and crucified Him anyway.  The reason visible proofs won’t convince anyone is because God works repentance and faith in us only through His Word.   And now that we have all the signs, both the big ones and the little ones, let’s look at the overview of God’s road map to heaven.  HE would defeat Satan by becoming a man and resisting his temptations in our place and dying to pay for our sins.  HE would give His righteousness and forgiveness to all who believe this, and HE would give faith to believe this through Baptism and the Word.   And now let’s follow the signs!  Do not let Satan and the world deceive you about what’s right and wrong – read the Word!  Also, do not let your conscience become confused with false guilt, real guilt or how to deal with guilt – read the Word!  Let Immanuel be your Savior.  And finally do not let any difficulty in this life tear you away from trusting in Him.  But keep reading the Word and let Immanuel guard you in all your ways!  He will, and in even in little your daily life, you will see it.  Amen.     

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