I absolutely love this time of year. I’m grateful to sing those Christmas hymns and Christmas carols. And no matter how secular or pagan Christmas is or may become, you can debate that all day. I will say this. The lyrics of the Christmas hymns they keep on preaching the gospel of Jesus.
I know we sing these songs so many times and it can kind of just be hypnotizing, and we can forget what they’re actually saying. But I even look at Hark the Herald Angels sing. Wow, it preaches Jesus. The songs we’ve been singing today preach the good news of Jesus.
Just look at these words just from Hark the Herald, veiled in flesh the Godhead see hail the incarnate deity, pleased with us and flesh to dwell Jesus our Emmanuel. And we’ll have more on this in a few moments because this is the heart of our message in our lesson this morning. Now, earlier this morning, Tyler announced the birth of Ricardo and Angie’s baby. And I just had to put up a picture because I wanted to look at that cute baby one more time. You can just see it some of you the first time that’s baby Luna. And I’ll add to it. I have baby Lucy as well. And I could just keep adding pictures and pictures. Some of you are just like, oh, yeah, I love it. And, oh, how I love baby Lucy. So grateful I get to spend time with her and be in her presence when we get to hang out with Tyler and Molly, it just draws me in.
And it reminds me it’s hard to believe that Amy and I have had three babies. It’s hard to believe our youngest baby turned ten years old this month. Congratulations, Charlotte. Ten years old. We do not have any family members now in single digits, but it is such a blessing to see our Church family be fruitful and multiply in this way, obeying the commands of God.
Good for you. And we’ve multiplied like rabbits around here in the last year or so. Congratulations to all who have recently had a baby. And of course, we have more of those little Tykes on the way. I’d love to see all those baby bumps surrounding us in the Church these days.
And again just look at these pictures. My goodness, there’s nothing like a newborn baby to bring together to put a smile on our faces. They’re so snugly. You just want to pinch those cheeks, don’t you? Look at those pictures.
You just gotta pinch those cheeks and you just want to bite those chunky legs. I’m even talking like this. I never talk like this, but I’m just talking like this because of their babies. You do the same thing. A newborn baby just draws you in.
You got to see the baby.
We love to hold the baby and squeeze those babies within reason. You want to get as close to the baby as possible. It just feels good, doesn’t it? So with this in mind, consider, this is exactly how the King of the universe chose to first reveal himself to you and me. A snugly, vulnerable newborn baby.
Please turn with me to Isaiah chapter Seven. In the Spirit of Christmas, today’s sermon title is Deity draws Nigh. That’s the old English right there. Deity draws nigh and you have to forgive me, they say in Scotland deity. So you may hear me say deity accidentally today, but it would be the deity draws nigh.
In other words, in these fancy lyrics, here this fancy title, it basically means this, the Creator, the one who is outside the system, the eternal, the Almighty, the all-powerful God. The deity draws close and intimate with you and me. If you will, the deity cuddles with the creation that he loves so much. And that’s so much of what Christmas is all about for us as Christians, God meets us where we’re at and he gives us the best hug we’ve ever received.
Now, as we read here in Isaiah seven, the deity seems very far away. And maybe that’s how you feel today. And I know it can go in and out for a lot of us. But here in Isaiah seven, God seems distant. Instead of a hug for his people, God seems to have turned his back on his people because of their habitual sin and their rebellion.
The glory days of King David and King Solomon are long gone at this point. The enemies of Jerusalem are closing in on the city and they’re ready to destroy it. Instead of being focused on God, the people are so much now zeroing in on politics, the terrorism that surrounds them, the threat of war. This creates a culture of fear. Where is the Almighty God in all of this?
He seems so far away from us. This is the setting of Isaiah Seven for what would become one of the most famous messianic prophecies in all of God’s word. Let’s read this together in Isaiah Seven. We’ll begin in verse one, when Ahaz, Son of Jotham, the son of Yusiah, was King of Judah, King Resin of Aram and Pekka of the Son of Romalia, King of the Northern Israel, marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it. Verse Two Now the house of David was told Aram has allied itself with Ephraim.
So the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Then the Lord said to Isaiah, Go out, you and your son, Shear-jashub to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the upper pool on the road to the washerman’s field. Say to him, Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood. Because of Remaliah’s son has plotted your ruins, saying, Let us invade you to let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves and make the son of Tabeel King over it. Yet this is what the sovereign Lord says. It will not take place. It will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin.
Within 65 years, Ephraim will too be shattered to be a people will be too shattered to be a people. That’s the Assyrian Empire on the way. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remelia’s Son. But if you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.
Again the Lord said to Ahaz ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or the highest heights. But Ahaz says, I will not ask. I will not put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah said, Here now you house of David. Is it not enough to try the patience of men?
Will you also try the patience of God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel. Again, keep in mind the context of this iconic prophecy in verse 14. This is a time of tremendous insecurity and fear for the people of Judah.
We see this in verse two when it says the hearts of King Ahaz and the people were shaken as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. And I think this context certainly could hold true for us today. It’s so easy for us as God’s people to be shaken by life as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Then in verse four, God sends the Prophet Isaiah to King Ahaz and tells them, Keep calm. You ever wonder where these memes come from?
These Tshirts, these coffee mugs. It’s right here. Someone should pay Isaiah royalties for this. He said it first. Keep calm and carry on, King.
Keep calm. Do not fear. God knows what’s going on here. God has a plan. God will take care of you.
And I think today we need to hear those same comforting words. Whatever you’re feeling this morning, calm down. May your heart be light as the Christmas Carol say, Keep calm. Don’t lose heart. God knows all the intimate details of your life.
God knows your deepest desires. God knows how to fill those desires. God has a plan and 1000 backup plans for you. God will take care of you no matter what. Deity draws nigh.
And then next we find in verse nine, one of the greatest quotes in the Bible. God tells King Ahaz, and he tells us as well in verse nine.
Write that one down. Memorize it. Post it on your Instagram. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all. That’s a nugget to chew on. Wish we had more time for that today. But I will ask you, what are you standing on this Christmas season?
I can’t tell you how many times I fall to pieces because I simply forget to believe.
Later, in John, chapter six, verse 29, Jesus would state it very clearly. This is the work God requires of you, to believe in the one he has sent.
Next, in verses ten through 13, God challenges Ahaz to test him on this. And this doesn’t happen too much in the scriptures a lot of times God’s like, don’t test me. But when God says, Test me on this or even says, you know what?
Just ask for a sign. You’re like, Whoa, this is crazy. God is dead serious here. God commands him, ask me for a sign, and then Ahaz, if you read his backstory here, he is not a spiritual man. He was not a good King. He was not a righteous King. But all of a sudden he gets very religious here and he replies, no way. I won’t do it. I will not test the Lord. And then God responds with a SMH, why are you trying my patience?
Trust me. I’m right here with you. And all this leads to the now famous Isaiah seven, verse 14. Therefore, therefore, what? What is that there for?
Therefore what? Therefore, since you won’t ask for a sign, therefore, since you are in disbelief, the Lord is going to intervene, the Lord will give you a sign to make this abundantly clear for generations to come. I’m going to give you something eternal. The Lord himself will give you a sign. The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel.
And this is the first appearance of Emmanuel in God’s word right here. It only shows up three times by my count. And as you probably know, Emmanuel means God with us. And if we get this right about Christmas, we get everything right about Christmas. In other words, here’s what God is saying to us.
Since you do not believe, since you waver in your belief that I’m always near you, I’ll prove it to you. God says, I’ll come even closer to you. And the days to come, a pure young woman will give birth to a son, and that child will be God in the flesh.
Our Creator finds a way to come even closer to you and me, so close and intimate that we can feel him understand him and hug him like a baby. Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see hail the incarnate deity. Pleased with us in flesh to dwell. Jesus our Emmanuel. Now, let’s move ahead to Isaiah chapter nine.
Let’s read more about this promise of deity. And remember what we’re reading here. We can take it for granted. This is 700 years before the first century. I mean, just sometimes these numbers are just numbers.
700 years ago in Florida. Florida wasn’t Florida. You understand this, right? It wasn’t even close. Maybe half that time of time.
Okay, this is a long time. Right? So here in Isaiah nine, we have the same context as chapter seven. Mankind is living in fear, living by what it could see rather than by faith. A world full of darkness, political conflict, suffering.
Someone are something bigger than us. Someone or something outside the system to come and give us hope seems so far away. So who will save us? Who will give us hope? With this in mind, Isaiah tells us more about this Emmanuel in chapter nine, verse six. Very, very popular scripture this time of year, let’s read to Isaiah nine, verse six.
For to us a child is born. To us, a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his Kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness.
From that time on and forever, the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. This is the promise of Deity. For Christians, this is the reason for the season.
And in verse six, it says, for to us, it means it’s a gift it’s been given to us. A son is given. A child is born. Every time a woman gives birth to a baby it’s an exciting, dramatic event, is it not?
I mean, it happens all the time, but yet it’s still dramatic. It’s exciting. It’s breathtaking. It’s enthralling. What an incredible gift.
What an incredible moment from God when my wife, Amy, gave birth to our first son, Nate, and then two more times, she did this with Ella and Charlotte. And God bless her for that. And I still remember each time seeing the faces of my children the very first time. Some of you you know what I’m talking about when you see that face, the very first time this gift of God that you were able to participate with God in creating, it’s just divine.
It’s amazing. And I couldn’t help it when I saw my children for the first time, just tears of joy.
And every time a new baby comes into the world, it’s a big deal, at least for the friends and family and for the Church family as well. Here in the States, we celebrate birthdays. We celebrate altogether birthdays of those who are famous, like a George Washington or Abe Lincoln or Martin Luther King Jr. We have national holidays because of their birthdays. But don’t miss this when Isaiah proclaims for to us, a child is born, a son is given this is completely different from any other birth in the history of the world, past, present or future. We celebrate Christmas not because it’s the birth of another famous baby. Rather, we celebrate Christmas because it’s the foundation of all miracles and the Christian faith. With this child, the Almighty God humbles himself to become flesh. This is our Emmanuel.
Deity draws nigh. The King of the universe stoops down and comes intimately close to you and me. The King of the universe becomes a baby, submitting himself to being held nursed and changed by poor people. It’s profound. It’s a miracle.
Check out verse six again, let’s go through some of these descriptions of who Emmanuel is that’s so close to us. Not only will God in the flesh come from a pure Virgin woman, but we will no longer place our trust in the political systems of this world. Amen? Because the government will be on his shoulders. God in the flesh becomes our greatest advisor in all things.
Because he is the wonderful counselor. He will be called the Almighty God, which means Jesus is perfect, powerful, and invincible. Again, this is no ordinary birth to celebrate. We will call him everlasting Father. The promise of Deity means we will be led by our Father.
How great is that? A father who passionately loves his sons and daughters. The promise of Deity means our desire for intimacy will be satisfied by this Father. And he is the Prince of peace. And this peace is not an absence of conflict, pain and suffering.
That’s the world’s definition. But with this Prince of peace, we have true peace. We are complete. We are whole. Our souls can be calm.
Our hearts can be light. We can rest easy. We can even be joyful in the midst of incredible pain and unexplained suffering in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
And early on in verse six, it says, the government will be on his shoulders. I referred to that earlier then in verse seven, of the increase of his government and peace. There will be no end and he will reign over his Kingdom from that time on and forever. Notice the words about this child, his shoulders, his government, his Kingdom. His government will not be a secular one, built on worldly wisdom or partisan politics. With the government on his shoulders, he will establish justice and righteousness. That’s the upside down Kingdom of God.
And it’s unlike any Empire this world has ever known. To be a citizen of his Kingdom is to live with a King forever. God comes close. The one and only deity draws nigh. Please turn with me to Matthew, chapter One. We’ll fast forward 700 years.
You can do that in a lesson on a Sunday morning. You kind of have to in 30 minutes. All right. So we’re going to go forward 700 years to see how God fulfills his promise of Deity. And I think you know what’s coming.
Let’s read Matthew One about Jesus and Jesus is a man atheists and even non-Christians acknowledge is a true historical figure. And as we read together, keep in mind Isaiah seven and nine. Let’s read here Matthew One, verse 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 and her husband, Joseph, being just a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an age 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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save people from their sins.
All this took place fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the Prophet. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which means God with us.
That’s the promise of deity from Isaiah seven that becomes the dawn of Deity. Let’s keep reading verse 24. When Joseph woke up from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took his wife, but he knew her not until she gave birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Jude in the days of King Herod, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. The dawn of deity promised in Isaiah nine becomes reality with the birth here of King Jesus. And later the Apostle Paul would put it all together for us in this way. And I love this scripture in Colossians, chapter two, let this sink in. This is who we are. This is what our faith is founded on. This is who we follow. It summarizes for us the miracle of Christmas.
For in Christ, all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form. And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Notice how that’s present tense. All the fullness of the deity lives.
That’s a key word here. Let’s turn to one Corinthians. 15 as we begin to close out, the deity lives, one Corinthians 15 Many of you know the remaining narrative of Jesus on this Earth. He grows up aged 30, goes public, preaches, repentance the coming of the Kingdom, the good news of the Kingdom. And here’s the good news.
The Creator then dies for his creation. The judge takes the judgment. The King dies for the Kingdom on his cross. Jesus makes every man and woman righteous. If we will stand firm in the faith of the blood that he shed dying on the cross.
But I didn’t want to miss this. I didn’t want us to skip over this. If Jesus is deity, if Jesus is God in the flesh, death cannot be the end of the story. A true deity cannot stay dead. Remember the prophecy of Isaiah nine, seven.
It says there’ll be no end to his government and peace, justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. So let’s read from the Apostle Paul in one Corinthians 15. It’s about 20 years after the death of Jesus. Verse one, now I want to remind you, brothers and sisters of the good news I preached to you. I think all of us need to be reminded of the good news. Why are you here? I want to remind you, Orlando Church of Christ of the good news preached to you which you received and which you stand and by which you are being saved. If you hold fast to the Word I preached to you unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. You see, God is invincible. He’s your invincible Emmanuel. And this is the final proof of Deity.
Jesus has power over death, hell and the grave. Jesus rose from the dead.
The first sentence on the resume of Jesus is this, indestructible life. No other religion can make a Truthful claim of its King the way we can claim this of our King.Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. The resurrected Jesus reigns over his Kingdom, establishing it and upholding it with justice and righteousness from the moment of his birth until forever.
So today and every day we can celebrate this fact, God comes close. The deity draws nigh.
So in this Christmas season, what’s your response to Emmanuel? And the brother of Jesus points us in the right direction in James chapter four. And I’ll just borrow the old English here as well. In James four, verse eight, draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. If you’re visiting today and you feel far away from God. Please. I don’t know how you got here, but I’m glad you’re here.
Please make the effort to get help. We’re all blind beggars, trying to figure out where we can find a piece of bread. Okay? We’re all here to help one another. So if you’re visiting today, someone here can help you. They may be a few steps ahead of you.
They were where you are. Just ask them to teach you more about the Bible, to pray with you, to learn about Jesus. God desires to be close to you. If you’ve been around this Church for a long time or if you’ve grown up in this Church, but you’ve not been baptized. You’ve not made a decision by faith to become a Christian, stop living in fear. Take a step of faith today, because if you don’t stand by faith, then you’re going to fall. Ask someone here to help you get closer to God before it’s too late. God desires to be close to you. And if you are one of our faithful members, faithful Christian, take an honest look at your life right now.
No better time as you face the days ahead as you look ahead to the rest of December, are you feeling a sense of fear or a strong sense of faith? What is the next step of faith you must take to overcome your fears. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.
The Deity draws nigh. God has come close to us. We serve a risen Lord that reigns forever. And I appeal to you during this Christmas season draw near to God and he will draw near to you.