Sermon Text: Matthew 1:18-25
During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we often use the name “Emmanuel” to describe Jesus. We sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” Or we sing, “Pleased, as man, with men to dwell/ Jesus our Emmanuel.” Emmanuel is a name meaning “God is with us,” and it’s associated with Christmas because of today’s scripture. Matthew relates the birth of Jesus Christ to something the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah chapter 7, verse 14.
If we want to understand the full meaning of this Isaiah reference in Matthew, we need to spend a little bit of time understanding what it meant in the original context. In the eighth century B.C., the kingdom of Israel is divided into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom, called Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, called Judah. Although they are descended from Abraham and worship the same God, they have an antagonistic relationship with one another. In Isaiah chapter 7, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had joined a coalition with Syria, because they believed they could successfully resist the control and influence of the Assyrian Empire, the dominant power in the region. But they knew they would be stronger if they could persuade the Southern Kingdom of Judah to join them in their coalition against the Assyrians. Judah, under King Ahaz, refuses to join… at first, but he’s beginning to waver and second-guess himself in the face of military attacks by these two other kingdoms. They want to defeat Ahaz and install a puppet who will go along with their plans. Read the rest of this entry »