PROCLAIM 2 by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: Have you ever felt isolated? I’m not talking about just lonely but stranded alone. I’m reminded of the movie “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks who plays a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island when his plane crashed in the South Pacific. At first, he had a rough time finding food, water, shelter, and even building a fire; but, in time, he learned to survive. His only friend was a Wilson Volleyball that was in one of the packages. He drew a face on it and called him Mr. Wilson. It became his only companion. He would talk to it and even get angry with it. He took it along on the makeshift raft when we tried to sail back. The most intense scene in the movie was when he lost the ball, his only friend, in a storm. At that point, he lost all hope. As traumatic as that scene was, it cannot compare to how Adam and Eve must have felt after sin came in and God was no longer with them as before. Can you imagine the isolation and desolation? Main point: We were created to walk in fellowship with God. Unfortunately, sin has separated us from him, leaving us stranded alone. Jesus came to reconcile us to God through his sacrifice on the cross. He is Immanuel, God with us.
Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
Matthew 1 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Context: Last weekend, we learned that we need to go beyond the big gifts under the tree and look through the stockings. Here we find such wonderful truths like “Jesus came not only to rescue us from the penalty of sin, but also to save us from the repercussions of sin.” Today, I want us to see something else in the stockings – “Jesus came to reconcile us to God so that we are back in fellowship with him and no longer alone.” To understand this, we need to go back to the Garden of Eden. Prior to the fateful day when they ate the forbidden fruit, God would come and walk with them in the “leruach hayyom,” lit. “at the wind/breeze of the day.” It referred to some point after mid-afternoon when the sun’s heat had gone down and there was possibly a nice breeze blowing. This was not a one-time deal because the verb “mithallek” means a pattern or habit of walking. In other words, this was their custom everyday – God came down and Adam and Eve walked with him every evening. This all came to an abrupt halt when they disobeyed God and were kicked out of the Garden. Can you imagine the day after?
- Can you imagine around mid-afternoon when the same familiar breeze was blowing, but they could no longer hear the footsteps?
- Can you imagine Adam hoping against hope that maybe God will come down and walk with them again?
- Can you imagine Eve thinking “maybe God is busy today, but surely he’ll come tomorrow,” but tomorrow comes and still no God?
- Can you imagine the loneliness, the emptiness, and the hopelessness they must have felt?
Principle: Sin separates us from God. There is a God sized vacuum in our hearts. We can try to fill it with friends, family, hobby, goals, but it will never work. Without God, we will remain lonely, empty, and hopeless.
Application: Is that you? Are you lonely, empty, and hopeless?
But, in the midst of the judgment, God had promised them the cure in Genesis 3:15“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” In other words, God’s presence will return when the “the seed of the woman” crushes the head of the serpent. If you remember, in a previous message in this series, Eve thought that her son Cain was the one, but he was not. Again, she thought Seth would be the one, but he was not either. Little did she or Adam realize that this promise was still far away in the future. Days became months, months became years, years became centuries, and centuries became ages. Human beings long forgot what it was like to walk with God and have his presence in their lives. Time to time there was an Enoch – Genesis 5:24 “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”; a Noah – Genesis 6:9 “…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God”; an Abraham who walked before God; and a Moses – Exodus 33:11“So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend…” There were also times when God’s visible presence came before his people, as on Mount Sinai in the thunders, lightning, and thick cloud; then, through those forty years in the wilderness as the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Still in was not quite like the Garden of Eden.
Nonetheless, there were echoes of the promise in Genesis 3:15—
- Genesis 16:11 And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael…”
- Genesis 17:19 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac…”
- Judges 13:5 For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb…” His name was Samson.
- 1 Samuel 1:20 So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel…”
- 2 Samuel 12:24“…So she (Bathsheba) bore a son, and he called his name Solomon…”
Then, the echo became very clear in Isaiah. It was in a prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz, King of Judah, the Southern Kingdom during the Syro-Ephraimite War (735-732 BC). The southern kingdom was facing an attack from all sides: from the South from Edom; from the West from Philistia; from the North and the Northeast from Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom, also known as Israel) and Syria. They were all alone. Keep in mind, it was already determined and prophesied that the Messiah would come through the tribe of Judah, through the line of King David. God was going to protect his promise. So, God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to comfort him and give him a sign, but Ahaz had other ideas. He had already sent off his ambassadors to King Pul (Tiglath-Pileser) of Assyria, the kingdom north of Syria to get help. Instead of asking for a sign as God had instructed, Ahaz acted condescendingly towards Isaiah. Listen to Isaiah 7:13 Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?” This is very important how Isaiah addresses Ahaz. He calls him “O house of David.” Meaning: God will still protect his promise, even though they will perish because of their lack of faith. How will God protect his promise? Isaiah 7:14“…Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Maybe King Ahaz’s wife or one of his harems was pregnant. This was a sign that the kings to the north will not be successful and that the line of David will continue through Ahaz’s son. I believe that it was probably his son who became King Hezekiah. Destruction did come. Listen to Isaiah 8 7 Now therefore, behold, the Lord brings up over them the waters of the River, strong and mighty—The king of Assyria and all his glory; He will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. 8 He will pass through Judah, He will overflow and pass over, He will reach up to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings Will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel. 9 “Be shattered, O you peoples, and be broken in pieces! Give ear, all you from far countries. Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces; Gird yourselves, but be broken in pieces. 10 Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; Speak the word, but it will not stand, For God is with us.” In other words, there was an immediate fulfillment, but a much greater fulfillment was still in the future. This was a virgin until conception, but one day in the future another young woman would bear a son who would be the Ultimate Son of David. The second would be a virgin even in conception. The echoes of the promise of Genesis 3:15 were still heard, but they were much much fewer now:
Hosea 1 8 “Now…she (Hosea’s wife) conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: ‘Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.’”
Luke 1:13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
Just when it seemed that all hope was gone, the echo got louder and louder. It was almost lost several times: Matthew 1 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Jesus’ life and preaching was to do once again what he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden before they sinned. Have you wondered why he ministered for the three and a half years?
- He walked with them and taught them.
- He showed them how to live by faith.
- He taught them how to obey
- He was with them in their needs.
- He was with them when they were hungry.
- He was with them in the storms.
- He even prepared them for the life with him when he would be physically gone – John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”
- He even promised them of the Holy Spirit whom he would send – John 16 5 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”
- As he was ascending, he said to them in Matthew 28 18 “…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
I can go on and on, but Romans 8 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…37Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In my own life, God has proven this time and again. He has never left me.
Invitation: Is God with you? Are you with him? Have you received Immanuel as your Savior and King?