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Jesus: The Promise Foretold
Isaiah 7:14
 
Jessica was four years old and she had had a perfect Christmas. She got all the presents she wanted. Her cousins were with her to share the holidays. She had eaten her favorite food all day long and as her mother tucked her in for bed she looked up at her at smiled and said, "Mom, I sure hope Mary and Joseph have another baby next year."
 
After Jesus' birth, Mary and Joseph did go on to have other babies; but, there was no baby like their first baby. Their 1st baby is the star of the show. He is the main attraction. He is the grand finale.
 
Jesus, Jesus
Oh what a wonderful child.
Jesus, Jesus
So lowly, meek and mild.
 
New life, new hope, new joy He brings
Won't you listen to the angels sing.
Glory, glory, glory
To the new born King.
 
In this politically correct, anti-Christian culture the word "Christmas" has become a word of great debate and division. 
Last year, Wal-Mart made national headlines by instructing their employees not to say "Merry Christmas" to its customers.
 
According to a National Religious Broadcaster's analysis of 48,000 hours of programming, during December 2005:
 
90% of the Christmas programming did not have any spiritual theme 7% had a religious or spiritual theme, but never referred to Jesus Jesus was the focus of only 3% of Christmas programming
 
Take many of traditional and familiar Christmas songs. Since the word Christmas is exclusive to Christians, in our politically culture, it must be removed. And, since it cannot be replaced with the word holiday, which is a version of Holy Day, it must be replaced with the innocuous phrase "day off."
 
Therefore the song "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" should be, "We Wish You a Merry Non-Religious-Specific Day-Off in Winter."
 
Since we cannot let any covert references to race be interjected, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" should be, "I'm Dreaming of a Race Immaterial Non-Religious Specific Day-Off in Winter."
We definitely can't exclude the physically impaired, therefore "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," should be, "I Sensed the Bells on the Non-Religious Specific Day-Off in Winter."
 
We don't want to forget the secularist, therefore, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" should be, "Oh Come All Ye of Extreme Loyalty to Non-Material Evidence."
 
A person should not feel excluded based on where they live, therefore, "Go Tell it on the Mountain" should be, "Go Tell it on the Preferred Geographical Location."
 
Physical descriptions should be eliminated, therefore "Little Drummer Boy" should be, "Vertically Challenged Drummer Child of Undetermined Gender."
 
We cannot stereotype overweight people as happy, nor make references to a person's age, or apply religious terms. Therefore, "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas" should be, "Happy, Plus-sized, Chronologically Gifted, Highly Virtuous Nicholas."
 
 
 
 
It may not be politically correct to put Christ into Christmas, but it is scripturally correct, spiritually correct, theologically correct, and eternally correct, because there is no Christmas apart from Christ.
 
For the next 3 weeks I want to focus on "Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child." He was not just a precious child, and a perfect child, but He was the Promised Child. In Jesus we see the promise foretold, the promise fulfilled and the promise finalized.
 
Today, from the pen of Isaiah, we look at Jesus, the promise foretold. There are 3 indelible truths about Isaiah's foretelling of the promise of Jesus. First, we learn that this promise was:
 
1. Eternally Determined!
 
The date of Isaiah 7 is 735 B. C. The nation is Judah, and the king is Ahaz. This was a time of uncertainty and unrest in the kingdom. This was a time of indecency, iniquity, immorality and idolatry.
 
Ahaz rejects the word of God in every area of his life and reign. He sells God and his country into the hands of the enemy;
 
and, then passes his own baby son through the fire to false, pagan gods.
 
Right in the midst of this time Isaiah comes with a message from God, of God, and about God. It begins in verse 14, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign." 
 
The Hebrew word for "sign" speaks of a miraculous sign. In verse 11, the sign is described as being without limits; and, as high as the "height" of Heaven "above," and as deep as the "depth" of Sheol, the place of the dead.
 
This sign signified that Ahaz and his kingdom were finished; and, a new kingdom was on its way. This miraculous sign, of which Isaiah spoke, did not begin at the birth of Jesus. Rather, it was eternally determined in the mind of God "before the foundation of the world."
 
In fact, we learn that the eternal determination of this sign originated with God. This "sign" did not originate with Isaiah, but rather with God Himself. Back within the ions of eternity past God originated the promise of Christ's coming into the world.
 
Yet, in Genesis 3 we see the 1st mention of this promise. Genesis 1-2 is life before sin. Genesis 3 is life after sin. It is as Martin Luther referred to it, "The blackest page of human history." 
 
Man has disobeyed God. Man has dishonored God. Man has displeased God. Sin has entered into the picture, thus separating man from God and God from man.
 
But, in Genesis 3: 15, God gives a promise. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
 
There is a reference to two seeds, "thy seed and her seed." "Thy seed" refers to Satan's seed. "Her seed" refers to the woman's seed. There is the seed of the anti-Christ, and there is the seed of Jesus Christ.
 
God makes the first announcement of the Bible regarding the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ. A. W. Pink refers to it as "The beginning and germ of all Bible prophecy."
 
He announces Satan will "bruise" the "heel" of the woman's seed. 
 
That promise was fulfilled with Christ's death on the cross when He was "wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities."
 
However, He also announces that the seed of the woman, Christ, would "crush" the "head" of Satan. That promise was initially fulfilled at the birth of Christ. We read in Galatians 4: 4, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
 
That promise will be ultimately fulfilled when Christ returns personally, triumphantly, and victoriously. It will be a time when Christ will lay "hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." (Revelation 20: 2)
 
Sin and Satan will have their day in God's courtroom, because judgment is coming, justice will prevail; and, Jesus will once and for all "bruise" the "head" of the devil.
 
Before the guilty ones were banished from Eden, God gave a promise of hope. By woman had come sin, but by woman would come the Savior. By woman had come the curse, but by woman would come the Christ. By woman paradise was lost; but, by woman paradise would be regained.
And it all originated with God. But it was also orchestrated by God
 
We read in our text, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign." In other words, the promise of Christ's birth is that which God originated and orchestrated. This promise would not be of man's doing, but of God's doing. God would be the One who would fashion the promise, fulfill the promise and finalize the promise.
 
I love Luke's account of the birth of Christ. Mary has just been informed of God's sovereign, supernatural plan that would use her to bring Jesus into the world. Her heart was filled with chaos and confusion.
 
Suddenly, the angel of the Lord appears to comfort her and says, in Luke 1: 35, " The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." He continues in verse 37, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."
 
In other words, that which was impossible from the human side would be incredible from the Heavenly side. This would not be an ordinary birth, but an extraordinary birth. This would not be the birth just a man, but the God-Man. This would not be the birth of just a son, but a Savior.
 
Furthermore, this was the plan, program, purpose and promise of God from before the "foundation of the world." Jesus had to die, but in order to die he had to live; and, in order to live, He had to be born.
 
It originated with God and was orchestrated by God. This was not the result of coincidence, but of providence. This was a promise eternally determined in the mind of God.
 
Secondly, this promise was not only eternally determined, but:
 
 2. Prophetically Declared!
 
After the eternally determined promise of God in Genesis 3, we find traces of the promise of Christ's birth throughout the pages of the Old Testament. However, when we come to Isaiah's prophecy, in Isaiah 7, the horn of this promise sounds emphatically, triumphantly and prophetically. 
 
 
 
What makes it even more amazing is that the year was 735 B. C., which means that Isaiah prophetically declared this promise 735 years before it actually took place. Yet, his prophecy was fulfilled to the very letter.
 
Notice that he prophetically declared a supernatural birth 
 
We read in verse 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
 
There are 3 exact and precise things that Isaiah declares about the supernatural birth of Jesus. First, he declares the person. He makes clear that the person God will use to bring Christ into the world would be a "virgin."
 
This is an issue that has sparked much debate down through the years. Many Bible commentators and translators have become frustrated with the Hebrew word for "virgin," which is almah.
 
Many of them suggest that the word almah speaks of a "young maiden," whereas the proper Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah. 
 
Thus, they conclude that Isaiah's prophecy neither condemns nor condones the virgin birth of Christ.
 
But don’t be deceived into believing that Jesus wasn't born of a virgin womb. The truth of the matter is that He was born of a virgin, because He had to be born of a virgin.
 
Had He not been born of a virgin, then His birth would have been no different from yours or mine. It would have been just another ordinary birth. But, it was necessitated that He be born of a virgin in order to die as a "lamb without blemish and without spot." 
 
Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history.
He said, "Jesus Christ." The questioner said, "And what would you like to ask Him?" King replied, "I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me."
 
I would say to Larry King that the question of the virgin birth has already been answered. The virgin birth of Christ is the foundation upon which our faith is laid. It is not an incidental truth. It is not an accidental truth. It is not a coincidental truth. It is a FUNDAMENTAL truth!
 
If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then God is a liar, the Bible is a joke, Jesus is a bastard, the Cross is a fable, the resurrection is a myth, and we are as lost as a goose, with no hope in this world.
 
Regarding this supernatural birth Isaiah also describes the process. He states that "virgin shall conceive, and bear a son." The word "bear" is the Hebrew word yalad. It literally means, "To bring forth, or to deliver."
 
This isn't necessarily a reference to a normal 9-month pregnancy, because, remember, this was not an ordinary birth, but an extraordinary birth. This was not a natural means of child-bearing, but a supernatural means of child-bearing. 
 
The seed would be "conceived" by the Holy Ghost, and would be delivered through the vehicle of a virgin womb. In 9: 6, Isaiah clarifies it by saying, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."
 
"A child is born" refers to the human side of His birth. "A son is given" refers to the Heavenly side of His birth. 
He would be "born" as a "child" to an earthly mother; but, He would be "given" as a "Son" from a Heavenly Father. 
 
To be "born" means that He would grow up. To be "given" means that He would come down. He would be delivered through the natural, but He would descend through the supernatural. 
 
Thirdly, Isaiah makes reference to the personality. He states that they will "call his name Immanuel." In 9: 6 he declares that, "his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
 
I read about a pregnant woman from Virginia was involved in a car accident and, while in the hospital, she fell into a coma. When she awoke days later, the woman noticed that she was no longer carrying a child, and asked, "Doc, what happened to my baby!"
 
The doctor replied, "Ma'am, you've had twins! You're the proud mother of a handsome baby boy and a beautiful baby girl. Also, you should know that while you were in a coma, your brother named the children for you."
 
"Oh, no!" shrieked the woman. "Not my brother! He's not really all together, if you know what I mean!" The doctor replied, "Well, ma'am, your brother named your daughter Denise." "Oh, that's no so bad," smiled the woman. Then, hesitantly, she asked, "What's the boy's name?" The doctor grinned and said, "Denephew."
 
The names given to Christ not only describe who He will be, but also what He will do. He will be a "Wonderful Counselor" which means that He will able to do with the decisions of life. He will be "The Mighty God," which means that He will be able to do with the demands of life.
 
He will be "The everlasting Father," which means that He will be able to do with the difficulties of life. He will be "The Prince of Peace," which means that He will be able to do with the disturbances of life.
 
That is Who He Is, as well as What He Does. Furthermore, He is able to do what He does because He is who He is. It is all made possible because of His supernatural birth.
 
But, there is also a sinless life
 
Many fail to travel past verse 14 to verse 15. But, after Isaiah describes the supernatural birth of Christ, He describes the sinless life of Christ. "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good."
 
This brings into view the deity, as well as the humanity of the Christ child. He will not be just a man. He will not be just God. He will not be half God and half man. He will be the God-man. He will have the power to "refuse the evil, and choose the good."
 
In other words, this foretells that Jesus would be as much man as if He had never been God; and, as much God as if He had never been man.
He was the Sinless One! In 1 Peter 1: 19, He is indelibly described as, "a lamb without blemish and without spot." In 1 Peter 1: 22, we read that He "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." In Hebrews 4: 15, we read that He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,"
 
His supernatural birth made possible His sinless life, and it was all prophetically declared, by the prophet Isaiah, 735 years before it happened.
 
 
Finally, the foretold promise of Christ's birth was not only eternally determined, and prophetically declared; but, it was:
 
3. Individually Demanded!
 
The truth of Christmas is much more than just an eternal truth, it is an individual truth. It is not just something that we admire theologically; but, it is something we must accept individually. 
 
The foretold promise of Jesus was eternally determined and prophetically declared, because it was individually demanded by you and me. For one thing, it was demanded because of The SIN that RUINED Us
 
Mark Twain was right when he said, "Man is like the moon. We all have a dark side we don't want anyone to see." 
 
The sociologists call it a "cultural lag." The psychiatrist terms it "emotional behavior." The philosopher refers to it as "irrational thinking." The humanist excuses it as "human weakness." 
 
The Marxist defines it as a "class struggle." The psychologist explains it terms of "psycho genes and gastric juices."
The Freudian speaks of it as a "slip." The politician refers to it as "inappropriate conduct." The criminologist writes it off as "antisocial behavior." The liberal theologians say that it is a "lack of social action."
 
However, God says that man's problem is SIN! Man is not a sinner because He sins, but He sins because HE IS A SINNER! We are born into this world dirty, defiled, destitute and depraved. Because of the original sin problem we all have a personal sin problem.
 
Thus, the economic system of Heaven demands that sin is a debt that must be paid. That is why we read in Ezekiel 18: 4, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." 
 
That is why we read in Romans 3: 10-12, "There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
 
That is why we read in Romans 3: 23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." That is why we read in Romans 6: 23 that, "The wages of sin is death." 
The problem of sin is exclusive, as well as inclusive. No one is excluded, and everyone is included in the problem of sin. 
 
The seriousness of this sin problem is that sin separates us from God. The holiness of God cannot allow sinful man in His presence. Furthermore, the holiness of God demands that sin be punished. That punishment is eternal separation from God. In short, sins penalty is an eternity spent in hell.
 
But, thank God that is only half of the story, because in spite of the sin that ruined us came The SAVIOR that REDEEMED Us
 
You see the Christmas story, of the birth of Christ, doesn't begin with good news, but with bad news. If there weren't any bad news, there would be no good news. Furthermore, the bad news is what makes the good news good news.
 
The bad news is that sin ruined us. Because of sin we are isolated from God, separated from God, and alienated from God. Sin created an eternal divide between God and man.
 
But, the good news is that God made a way where there was no way. 
The good news is that, in spite of the sin that ruined us, God provided a Savior to redeem us.
 
The good news is recorded in verse 14, "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The name "Immanuel" means, "God with us."
 
Under the terms of the law, it was God over us. When Jesus was born, it because God with us. At His death on the cross, it because God for us. 
 
And through His resurrection, it because God IN us, "the hope of glory."
 
Man had sinned, but God provided a Savior. Man had fallen, but God provided forgiveness. Man had become ruined, but God provided redemption. Man's need was not to turn over a new leaf, but to get a new life.
 
The story is told of a man that traveled a long way to interview a distinguished scholar. Upon his arrival, he was ushered into the study of the great scholar. When the great scholar came into the room, the visitor asked, "Doctor, I have come a long way to ask you just one question.
I observe that the walls of your room are filled with books. This room is literally lined with them from ceiling to the floor. I suppose you have read them all. I know you have written many books. You have traveled the world over; you have held intimate converse with the world's wisest men, its leaders of thought, and its creator of opinion.
 
Tell me, if you will, after the years you have spent in study, out of all the things you have learned, what is the one thing best worth knowing?" The great scholar's face flushed with emotion. He placed, with gentleness, both hands over the hands of his visitor and then said, "My dear sir, out of all the things I have learned, there are only two lessons best worth knowing. The first is, I am a great sinner. The second is, Jesus is a greater Savior.
 
Someone has said, "Had our greatest need been information, God would have sent us an educator. 
 
Had our greatest need been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. Had our greatest need been money, God would have sent us an economist. Had our greatest need been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. 
But, our greatest need was salvation, so God sent us a Savior."
 
Christmas is all about the day that Jesus left the glory place to come to the gory place. Christmas is all about the day Jesus left the wonders of Heaven to come to the woes of Earth. Christmas is all about Jesus leaving the place of splendor to come to the place of sin. 
 
Christmas is about He, who was veiled in deity, came to earth clothed in humanity. Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth to be like me, so that I could go to Heaven and be like Him.
 
Christmas is all about the day when the greatest gift ever given was "wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger." At that moment, Jesus reached toward God, with His hand of deity; He reached toward man, with His hand of humanity, and reconciled both man to God, and God to man.
 
Is it any wonder then we can sing:
 
 
 
 
Jesus, Jesus
Oh what a wonderful child.
Jesus, Jesus
So lowly, meek and mild.
 
New life, new hope, new joy He brings
Won't you listen to the angels sing.
Glory, glory, glory
To the new born King.
 
Jesus is the promise foretold!
 
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