A Sign From God

What does the truth of Isaiah 7:14 mean for us today? What can we learn from Ahaz and the “sign of Immanuel” in Isaiah 7:1-14?

First, salvation has always been by faith and not by works. Isaiah told Ahaz to trust in the Lord and not his works of political manoeuvring if he wanted to be saved. That principle has never changed. Galatians 2:16: “A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”

Second, being religious and having faith aren’t the same thing. Ahaz sounded pious but he lacked faith, so he invited the judgment of God into his life. Coming to church, doing devotionals, and trying to live a basically good life are good things, but they can never make us right with God and can never replace the necessity of simple trust in the Word of God.

Third, decisions made out of fear are almost always bad ones. Ahaz feared people more than he feared God, so his decision-making ability was compromised. Because of fear, he chose what was expedient rather than what was right.

Fourth, the “sign of Immanuel” empowers our evangelism. Matthew begins his Gospel with the promise of God’s presence with us in Christ. He ends his Gospel with Jesus’ promise to be with us as we scatter among the nations to make disciples. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus is with us as we help other people follow Jesus. We’re never alone when doing his work.

Fifth, the truth of “God with us” can create joy or sorrow in our lives, depending on how we’re living. When we’re walking in holiness, “the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him” (Psalm 147:11). When we’re walking in sin, we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom we’ve been sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians. 4:30). Just because God is always with us doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want. Like any good parent, God is pleased with obedience and displeased with disobedience.

Sixth, Matthew says that God is with us in Christ. The rest of the New Testament teaches us that the “us” in this sentence is the church. This means that the most tangible way that Jesus makes His presence known to the world is through the church. One of the most tangible ways that we experience the presence of God in our lives is when other church members pray for us, speak the truth to us, and encourage us in the Gospel. If Jesus is with us, then He’ll come out of us as we live together in community. Who did you touch last week? Who did you point to Jesus?

Seventh, and finally, “God with us” is the main promise of the Gospel. In Christ, God removes our sin and gives us righteousness so that we can be with Him, and Him with us. In Christ, we’ll still battle loneliness, but we don’t battle it as those who’re alone. God sees our pain, understands what we feel more than anyone else, is ready to listen to us and speak to us, and promises to walk with us through all the narrow and treacherous paths of life.

Because God is with us, we can walk in courage and joy and peace and power. Because God is with us, we don’t have to walk in fear or anxiety or despair or defeat. The Gospel teaches us that Christ is all we need in this world, and all that we truly have. (JOHN SYPERT)

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