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Sunday Sermon - 5/12/02
 The Sign - Isaiah 7:14

The Sign

The Lord Himself will give you a sign” (Isaiah 7:14)

The other day I was boarding a plane and entered the terminal as usual. A stewardess-appearing person rushed toward me and shouted, “What are you doing here?” I replied, “I’m going to Tucson,” and she demanded, “Didn’t you read the sign on the door?” When I answered in the negative, she barked, “Well you SHOULD have!” and told me that her airline had “taken over this terminal!” - Not the airline I would be traveling with. I asked where that airline had moved to and she pointed north, which is where I went. She was right. I should have read the sign.

There are signs all around us: Signs in the ways we act and in our attitudes, which can be read in the ways that others respond. We should read them, because they will tell us much about life and about ourselves that we need to know. The most important signs we need are in the Bible, God’s Word, and we must open that Book and read. Our future depends on it, and incredibly many never even bother to try. It tells us our first need is for the Lord – We must reach out to Him, and then we will begin to understand.

Charles Spurgeon asked, “Why do I not call on His name? Why do I run to this neighbor and that when God is so near and will hear my faintest call? Why do I sit down and devise schemes and invent plans? Why not at once roll myself and my burden upon the Lord?”

Why? The answer is unbelief. You may respond, “No, that’s not my problem. I’m a believer. I trust in the Lord. I believe, therefore this does not apply to me.” But let’s talk about this a little bit more.

“Unbelief” like “belief” is a verb, an action word. It is not unlike the word “love”, which is more than emotion for it also requires action in order for it to be complete.

I’ve met those who love with apparent fervor but action is missing. Many seem to love their own comfort more than they care for others and do not give to the need. I have met others who will perform the actions but lack the heart. They will do for others but don’t seem to care about those they serve. Each of these responses (in the absence of the other) misses the real nature of love. It is an abandonment of self in favor of someone else. I would and will do anything for the object of my love and I delight in them; would even die for them, much like Jesus died for me.

“Belief” is very much like that. To “believe” in Christ but not trust He can or will do anything, is a form of unbelief. To believe that He must respond to your every whim is another expression of unbelief. If you really trust in Him, you will understand that He cares enough to act effectively and to do what is needed. To believe in Him as God is to see that He knows your needs better than you do.

The Lord spoke through Isaiah the prophet to a man named Ahaz, who was the king of Israel. The king was to “ask for a sign for yourself from the Lord your God” (Isaiah 7:11). Ahaz, who was not in any way humble, answered with a false humility, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord” (Isaiah 7:12). Isaiah was not impressed with the response (for he knew the king’s heart), and since an imminent sign would not be received, the prophet looked hundreds of years into the future: “When the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Immanuel (God with us)” (Isaiah 7:14).

Often, when we are on a journey, signs are placed on the way. Some are advertisements, designed to bring income to those who paid for the signs. Others are intended to be helpful and are provided as a public service. How would we know when to get off the freeway, except for the signs that name the various off-ramps? We might simply drive on until we run out of gas!

With all the competing religious systems in the world, how can we possibly know the right “off ramp” that will bring us to the Lord God, Maker of heaven and earth? There are many “signs” from various religions and books, and you have to carefully check them in order to determine the correct ramp (way) to take.

It is certain that God is high and holy, beyond the ability of any of us to grasp Him simply through human understanding. God is set apart from this world. But He has given us a sign, and His Name is Jesus Christ, God the Son. In Him, we see both the holiness and the love of God. We see our need and our deliverance is seen in this continuation of the words by C. H. Spurgeon:

“My case is urgent and I do not see how I am to be delivered, but this is no business of mine. He who makes the promise will find ways and means of keeping it. It is mine to obey His commands; it is not mine to direct His counsels. I am His servant, not His solicitor. I call upon Him and He will deliver.” – Charles Spurgeon.

It seems incredible but many seem to think that Jesus died for us on the cross and then abandoned us to our own devices. He DID die for us, and He did it out of the greatest love we could imagine. Think on His words: “You must be born again” (John 3:7). We are born anew in Him, and the good parent does not birth the child and then abandon them. No, the good parent NURTURES the child, as our good Lord nurtures you and me.

“The Lord Himself will give you a sign; behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). We are offered deliverance from sin, from death, and from the selfishness that plagues mankind. Turn to Him and RECEIVE the One who died for you and me. He longs to fellowship with you.

I have a “Planner” which is supposed to tell me what to do each day. Entries have been made which are like “signs” that are supposed to make life easier. And it would, except I often forget to read it. Open His Book, His Bible. You will be changed – forever.

Lord, we receive You now. Let us read the “signs” and trust in You. Send Your Spirit and let us learn through Him. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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