Recently, as I was reading a book about pastoral study and preaching, there was a section in the reading about the moment in a church service of the “upturned faces” of the congregation. It’s the moment when people look up to hear the Word of God preached and they need to hear a Word from God. As I read that section, I was reminded of my gratitude and joy for serving at CLF. It is a known fact that our people would be sorely disappointed and would hold me accountable for not delivering the “faith once delivered to all the saints”. Our folks would be upset (to put it mildly), if I did not seek the face of God each week to give to them what God’s word says and how it pertains to their lives today. This is a unique gift of God to our church and to me, as a pastor. I love preaching at CLF. I love my “home field” and I am eager each week to see the “upturned faces” and m hope each week is to turn those faces to their Savior and King, who is the best Shepherd and pastor.
Sunday was another gift. Our folks eagerly sang, opened their Bibles, took notes, listened intently, and God did business with His people. This Christmas series, where we’ve looked at how Jesus’ birth fulfilled Old Testament prophecies has been particularly encouraging and Lord willing, hope-filled.
Isaiah’s son as fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14?
I mentioned this yesterday. When you look at Isaiah 7:14-17, you’ll notice some “time-texts” that give indication that this prophecy had some immediate intention. Notice specifically, vs. 16 says, “For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.” What we know from history is that by 722 B.C. the Assyrians had laid waste to Syria and Israel (those two kings). This means, in the span of 12 years, the “son” shall be born. And what complicates this further (or makes it easier), is the fact that Matthew 1:18-25 gives God’s interpretation of the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 being the birth of Jesus.
So, what we’re looking at here, is what some call a dual prophecy, which means that there’s an immediate, partial fulfillment of a certain prophecy, while pointing ahead to the future, complete fulfillment of that same prophecy.
So, the reasons, we can see an immediate, partial fulfillment in Isaiah’s 2nd born son, is the timeframe and in Isaiah 8:8, he’s referenced as Immanuel. However, what makes it challenging to see an complete fulfillment of that prophecy is the fact that the child’s mother was not a virgin and the person Immanuel in Isaiah 7 and 8 is a divine person with ultimate rulership. And the Isaiah 9:6 “child” is the same person.
However, let me point out that no matter if there is an immediate, partial fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 in Isaiah’s lifetime, it does not change the fact that the angel told Joseph that the virgin Mary was with child and that child was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would fulfill Isaiah 7:14.
Interesting tidbits left out of Sunday’s sermon:
- About the Virgin Birth:
- When the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary, it’s a sign that this child was divinely given & that salvation is accomplished only by God. There’s no human dabbling here…this is done by God.
- The virgin birth makes possible that Jesus’s humanity came without inherited sin. In other words, As Wayne Grudem would say, “Jesus did not descend from Adam in exactly the same way in which ever other human has descended from Adam.”
- It’s also a sign that God is uniting himself with humanity & that Jesus is fully God & fully man. There is an erroneous teaching floating around that Jesus was not fully God, but rather, He was fully man, reliant totally on the Holy Spirit. The thought behind this is that it encourages us, as humans, to be totally reliant on the Holy Spirit, like Jesus, and we can do all the works (and more) that Jesus did. The problem with this is that Scripture is clear that Jesus was in fact 100% man and 100% God.
- “The failure of the house of David is wider than Ahaz. From the beginning it has failed to live up to its divine remit. It has produced neither the perfect king nor the golden age but rather the reverse. A whole history of human inadequacy suddenly passes before Isaiah’s eyes. With the change from the your God of verse 10 to my God here, Isaiah signals the new, disastrous turn of events. The only way we can have God is by relying on him and using him. For the only way it is possible to accord God’s deity to him is by using him and risking one’s life upon God’s word by trusting his promises and obeying the revelation of his will.” Alec Motyer
Looking ahead in this series:
- December 24th-“Bethlehem”: Micah 5:2
- December 27th-“A blessing to the Nations”: Genesis 12:1-3
From the Cheap Seats:
- Anytime and I mean anytime, the Cowboys beat the 49ers, is a good time. I’m sorry 49er friends. When I moved to Oregon in the mid-90’s, it was during the hey-day of this rivalry. And the 49er fans were obnoxious to me when they beat the Cowboys in the 1994 NFC Championship game. I only hold grudges in my sports’ rivalries:).
- Texas A&M deserves to be in the College Football Playoff. Sorry, the committee went with “name brands” rather than the teams that deserved it.
- Proud dad moment…a few years ago, my son, Nathan told me that he wanted to learn to hunt. I really know nothing about that stuff. So, I asked a friend in our church, if he would mentor Nathan to hunt and shoot. Randy Gore has been a great mentor and this year, Nathan got his 2nd buck (1st one was last year) and also got a cow elk (on a damage tag). Further, he also helped friends hunt and bag 2 other deer and another elk. Quite the year for him. It’s really fun to watch.
- In the last 3 years, I’ve started watching English Premier League Soccer (EPL). I know, I know…what?? Well, I did it because I was amazed that over 500 million people around the world watch soccer. The World Cup is the largest TV viewing audience of any sporting event by 5 times! So, I thought, I need to check out why. Well, the 2020 EPL is shaping up to be an amazing competition. I’ve seen teams in the relegation zone (impressed??) tie or compete with teams in the top 4. It’s literally nuts, every match.
Finally, CLF, I pray that you will have a very Merry Christmas! Christ has come! Yes, He has. God is with us! Don’t ever forget this truth. He’s with us in darkness, success, failure, and hardship. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother (or sister). No one loves us like this. So, enjoy your Christmas.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.