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Salvation Belongs To The Lord

December 22, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Isaiah 7:10–14

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 22, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Advent 4
Salvation Belongs To The Lord

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the LORD your God, let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it not enough that your frustrate men? Must you frustrate my God also?

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold! The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:10-14)

Let us all heed the unwelcome warning today that sin exists; that it maims, kills and destroys. But let us especially learn that there is only one antidote in all the earth – the blood of Jesus his Son once shed on the cross, and now received from the Christian altar.

Many people do not believe in sin because, like carbon monoxide, it is invisible. But like carbon monoxide it is also deadly. And if we put CO2 detectors in our homes to warn us – how much more should we turn to Holy Scripture to warn us from sin, and the death it inflicts on all its victims.

But even if the concept of sin is invisible, the signs and symptoms are not!

Scripture declares that “the wages of sin is death;” and our Lord says, “Anyone who sins is a slave to sin.” And so if you want to know the true cause of all the trouble that exists in this world … in your soul, in your home and in your heart, in your flesh … then hear the word of the Lord.

There you will learn what the real problem is and not waste you precious energy obsessing over every hot potato that the culture tells us must be fixed today, or we will all be dead by morning.

But hear the Word of the Lord. It is sin, not mental illness, that drives people to perpetrate mass murderers. Sin, not bad sociology, that led 3 young boys to rob and murder an 18 year girl in NYC 2 weeks ago.

This is the djinni that our Adam and Eve let out of the bottle when they walked out on their true Husband, and moved in with the Serpent.

This is the result. But unless one will hear the voice of the Bible he will neither recognize sin for what it is, nor learn its antidote – the Son whom Isaiah promises in today’s golden prophecy.

King Ahaz, of whom we hear in today’s Old Testament lesson, was a man who would not hear.

Though he was christened as king over God’s nation, Judah, he was a very, very bad king. He did not walk in the ways of the Lord. But enticed Judah to worship the surrounding fertility goddesses whose religion amounted to little more than sex, drugs and rock n’ roll – the gratification of every fleshly desire until a person was dissipated, impoverished, dripping of disease, his substance consumed.

28 centuries later, and half a world away, things have not changed!

Today people still burn with sinful, perverted, insatiable desires that make fentanyl look like penny candy.

They are addicted to sin! Addicted to death! Holding God in contempt just like King Ahaz did 28 centuries ago … and because of Judah’s wholesale apostasy God unleashed his wrath upon her.

Two powerful nations from the north: Israel, who was Judah’s older sister joined forces with Syria, to rain down white hot hell on Judah’s head, and God let it happen!

Why the history lesson?

Only so that we should understand this final Advent prophecy and prepare to rejoice for the full 12 days of Christmas; rejoice like people without a care in the world.

Faced with this impending doom Isaiah tells us that the hearts of Ahaz and his people shook like the leaves of the trees in a windstorm.

And so God, whose mercy knows no bounds, sent the prophet Isaiah even at this very late hour to give Ahaz this message:

"Ask a sign of the LORD your God. Let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven."

How remarkable!

Even now when the missiles of God’s wrath were armed and in flight God says to Ahaz: Ask me anything. Nothing is too big. Nothing out of the question. “Ask and it shall be given!”

But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test,” by which he meant: I will not hope in God!

Now it is not clear how any sane man could refuse such an offer. If it was stubborn pride. Or perhaps the conviction that he was beyond redemption and did not believe that God would forgive him (as Christ forgave Peter).

But you see, Beloved, this is precisely what our lost condition is like. We are all Ahaz. And so the Almighty Lord who is good, and whose mercy knows no limits, took matters into his “holy and venerable hands” and provided the solution for us all.

“Behold,” says the Prophet.

Pay attention!

Let all mortal flesh keep silence!

God is now at work!

And so if you will not turn to your God for help, O Ahaz.

O Man.

If you are paralyzed on the high wire of sin. Too terrified to move. To speak. To breathe. To blink. … then “The Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold! A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you will call his name Immanuel, which means God with us.

Again, why the history lesson? Only so that we might understand today’s gospel.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place this way. When his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband being a good man, and not wanting to put her to shame, determined to divorce her quietly.

“But while he was considering these things an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘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 his people from their sins.’

“All this took place so that what the Lord spoke through the prophet might be fulfilled, ‘Behold! The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Immanuel which is interpreted ‘God with us.’"

“When Joseph was aroused from sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took to him his wife, but he did know her until she had given birth to a son; and he called his name Jesus.”

And so you see Mary is the virgin and Jesus the Son that Isaiah saw in prophetic vision all those centuries ago. God showed him a promise and he believed it and proclaimed it, and the promise is this: as the Lord saved Ahaz and his people from utter extinction – even so Jesus saves us by the cross. He has vanquished every sin, and puts every foe that threatens you today, to flight.

His name is Jesus, which means Savior.

His name is Immanuel, which means God with us.

And if God be for us who can be against us?

Advent is now over. Christ is now here. And so like the infant in his mother’s lap let us, too, sleep in heavenly peace.