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LESSON II

AN UNEXPECTED SIGN

December 13, 2009

DEVOTIONAL READING : Micah 5:1-5a

BACKGROUND SCRIPTUE: Isaiah 7:13-17; Luke 1:26-38

PRINT PASSAGE: Isaiah 7:13-17; Luke 1:30-38

KEY VERSE: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14...

OBJECTIVES -

Upon the completion of this lesson, students will understand that:

1. Before God’s people begin to worry, God has already set into motion a plan of salvation...

2. God sometimes requires us to accept His Word, even though it makes no logical sense...

3. We may be privileged to witness the sign, but not live to witness the consummation...

SESSION OVERVIEW -

In this session, we focus on things “impossible”. In the passage in Isaiah, a king “counts the cost” (cf. Luke 14:31,32) of the enemy before him. And while it is an earthly enemy, the enemy is so formidable that the king is in great distress. But God would have him not worry, for he is not alone...

Again, in the passage in Luke, mankind faced an “enemy” that was both formidable and invisible (the same is true today). Man did nothing, for man was unaware of the impending disaster. If man had known to “count the cost” he would have been in even more distress than was Ahaz in the Isaiah passage. Again, God provided protection in this spiritual war just as He had on numerous occasions in physical wars...

INTRODUCTION -

The prophet Isaiah had a daunting task: he had to speak of God to a king who didn’t believe in God. Not only did King Ahaz not believe in God, he wouldn’t even give God a chance. When offered the opportunity to be presented with a sign – any sign – Ahaz turned the offer down on the pretext that he didn’t want to “worry” God. But God had a plan, and Ahaz wasn’t about to short-circuit God’s intended announcement; for even if Ahaz didn’t believe, others eventually would...

It is not unusual for passages from the Bible to have more than a single meaning. Here, the issue of Ahaz’ enemies was being addressed, but at the same time, the enemy of mankind was also a focal point. God employed man to deal with the physical problems; but he called on His Son to deal with the spiritual warfare. In both cases, God claimed the victory...

COMMENTARY ON THE TEXT -

I.....Sign of Immanuel

(Isaiah 7:13-17)
Ahaz had no problem identifying his enemies – they were his brothers and sisters of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the warriors of Syria . In truth, each enemy was more formidable than tiny Judah . And they were making no secret of their intent: they wanted to overrun Jerusalem . The question was, what to do about it. Ahaz didn’t believe in God, so he considered calling in help – ANY help. At the top of his “help” list was Tiglath-Pileser and the Assyrians; but they were NOT his friends, and the cost would be tremendous...

God – through Isaiah – had a better idea: trust in God and not man. And if trusting God with his life was such a problem, the prophet promised that God would give Ahaz a sign – one of Ahaz’ choosing. The king responded that he would not ask, nor test God. He would eventually appeal to the Assyrians as hired assassins (2 Kings 16:7, 8)...

But God had more than just Israel , Syria and Judah in mind. He had a Sign for mankind, and it was about One who would fight a battle against an invisible enemy; one that would dwarf the power of any nation or group of nations. Because of that, God declared that He would provide a sign that had not been sought...

The Sign would be a virgin (or young woman) who would conceive and bear a Son. His name would be Immanuel (God is with us). Was this a sign that Ahaz would live to see? Scholars have searched, unsuccessfully, for any such occurrence in Ahaz’ day. Still, the promise in verse 16 is interesting. The northern kingdom of Israel would fall in 722 B.C. At the time of our text today, it is about 735 B.C....

II. PROMISE OF THE BIRTH -

(Luke 1:30-38)
Mary was a young woman (probably 16-18) who lived a simple life. Probably nothing spectacular had ever happened to her or to her family. Then, almost from nowhere, the Angel Gabriel appears. Gabriel is one of only two named angels (messengers) in our Bible. Here, he calls on Mary to accept and digest in one sitting more than most people could accept in an entire lifetime. In order to appreciate the tremendous faith and trust exhibited by Mary, we would have to try and stand for a moment in her shoes. She is “engaged” to a good man named Joseph. She is a virgin. She is about her daily chores with nothing spectacular in mind. Then comes an angel that informs her that she will have a child – and without the benefit of a man!

It would be enough to accept the person of an angel (he must have looked like one) standing before you; but what of an angel declaring something that heretofore had been assumed to be impossible?

Moreover, this child would not be just any child, He would be the Son of the Highest (the Son of God). God will give Him the throne of David (cf. 2 Samuel 7:13-16); that is, Jesus would be the Davidic Messiah. He would, in short be the long-awaited Jewish hope...

All this, and the responding words of Mary paint the very picture of faith. It is a faith not shared by King Ahaz in the earlier Scripture. It is a faith that does not ask God for “signs” simply because none is needed. She has abiding faith. She simply says, “...be it unto me according to thy word...”.

THE APPLICATION OF SCRIPTURE -

Each Christmas season should remind all Christians that this occasion (the Birth of Christ) marked a turning point for our universe. Without this Event, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were all doomed for destruction. With all their efforts, they had utterly failed. Certainly, the people living in that day were facing the same sad demise. And, of course, all of us today would have had no chance at salvation without this miraculous Birth...

And just why was it necessary that Jesus come into the world through a virgin birth? Simply because to be born of a union between a man and a woman would have had Him being born through the blood of Adam, thereby in sin. Jesus was born into the world without sin, and committed no sin. He was, therefore, the only one eligible to die for our transgressions...

But none of this is of any consequence if we fail to accept the Birth just as did Mary. We must KNOW that Jesus was born in this manner at this time in history so as to begin the final work of our salvation. If Christmas loses this insight, it loses its true meaning...

REFLECTIONS ON THE LESSON -

1. What is the first thing that comes to your mind at the mention of Christmas?

2. What are some of your plans for this Christmas season?

3. Each year we study something about the Birth of Christ. What new insight did you get this year?

ASSIGNMENT, PROJECT, OR ACTIVITY -

1. Peruse a copy of “new year” predictions in a grocery store checkout magazine; compare and contrast these with Biblical prophecies...

2. Trace the relationship of King Ahaz to earler kings of Judah (2 Kings 15)...

CLOSING PRAYER:

Eternal God, Thank You for promising a Savior. Thank you for keeping that promise. Thank you for eternal life. Amen....

A
 

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