Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Notes to the Leader: This lesson looks at faith versus fear. It is best given to a group that is comfortable sharing with each other.
This lesson will also look at our belief in the virgin birth of Christ. This study supports the Christian belief that to be both man and God, Christ’s conception and birth are not of man’s doing.
How do our fears change with age?
- When we are young, our fears are centered around our activities. Will I pass my test? Will I be liked by my classmates?
- As we enter our mid-years, we become concerned with our families. Our center of life becomes our relationship with our spouse, our children.
- As we age, health, our ability to survive without employment, our eternal place, become the focus of our lives.
Use a whiteboard or easel. Divide it into a left hand and right hand sides. Let your group build a list for the next question on the left.
What do you fear today?
There are no wrong answers here. People’s fears are real, regardless of what we may think of them.
- Now build a list on the right side.
What does God promise us?
- Unfortunately, not the specifics we would like. In most cases, if you build a list of what God promises us, it will not match the same list of fears.
- He has a broader viewpoint, promising an eternal place that is very different from the world we live in.
When chaos and difficult circumstances seem to be the reality of today, what do people place their confidence in?
- Good judgment
- Influential friends
- Pleasing personality
- Bank reserves
However, the obvious answer, of course, is to only place our faith in the Lord.
Section One: A Message to a King
Have someone in your group read Isaiah 7:1-9. Verse 2 shows the fear of the people of the House of David (the Jewish Nation).
Why would they be so fearful?
- The people were relying on their own abilities instead of God. They knew they did not poses the capability to defeat their enemies.
Notes to read to the group: Judah’s powerful invaders would be reduced to nothing in a short while. Syria would be crushed within two years of the prophesy. Ten years later Israel would lose her national existence. In 65 years foreign colonists would be resettling Israel (v. 8).
What is the advice to the people if Israel in verse 9?
- Stand firm in your faith.
What does it mean to stand firm in your faith?
- This is the ultimate description of trusting God to take control. In spite of insurmountable obstacles, results that would bring anyone to tears, Isaiah calls his people to stand firm and trust that God is in charge.
Have someone in your group read Isaiah 7:10-25.
Why is it that when given the understanding that we are to ask the Lord for what we need, we seldom really ask?
- Ahaz had his mind made up. Such is the case with most of us. We fail to ask God for help because we already have the answer we want. To ask God is to let Him give us something else.
What happened when Ahaz stubbornly refused to ask God for help through a sign?
- God provided the sign anyway.
Why is it so important to understand and defend the virgin birth of Christ?
- It was not only foretold, but carried out in the New Testament. For Christ to become the intercessor between man and God, he could not be man nor could he be God. He had to be both. The idea of virgin birth is the only intellectual answer to this mystery.
Is there anything too difficult for God to do?
- This is the essence of faith itself. God can do whatever He wants.
Why would a Christian, a person placing their faith and hope in Christ, be hesitant to ask God for something and concerned over the outcome of the request?
- While we may all claim title to the salvation offered by our Christ, the true test of faith in our God and in our Christ comes from the day-to-day responses to worldly problems. It is too bad that Christians can gather together in a common belief that there was a Christ, yet cannot believe that God can do anything.
Section Two: A Message for Isaiah
Have someone in your group read Isaiah 8:1-10.
What was Isaiah doing to establish his authority as a prophet?
Re-read verse 8:2 to the group.
Isaiah wrote his prediction on a scroll. In modern day terms, he called the eight ball into the corner pocked before he took his shot.
What constitutes a definition of a prophet?
- The only Biblical definition is when the predictions come true. Then the individual can claim the rights of a prophet. Guessing is not part of a godly profit’s methods. It is not a matter of what percentage of a prophet’s predictions come true, but whether they all do.
Verses 9-10 indicate that in spite of proper preparation for war, Judah would lose. How do you interpret the last part of verse 10, “for God is with us?”
- In spite of their preparations for war, they would fail. However, God would continue to remain faithful to His people.
If in the end, God cares about all of us, why should be care about our obedience to Him and whether we are sinful or not?
- While it is true that we have a God who is patience, probably beyond our own understanding of limits, it remains dangerous to continually test God’s patience. When we constantly ignore God’s offers, He retains the right to retract the offer at any time. This leaves us to our sinful selves and sure destruction.
Have someone in your group read Isaiah 8:11-15.
How is it that when everything around us is going wrong, we can keep from being afraid?
- Isaiah tells us that we must keep our eyes focused on God alone.
What in that previous statement about God speaks to you personally?
- Focused means that all else must be put aside. This is maybe the hardest part of dealing with worldly problems, setting them aside enough to focus on God.
- God is to be our focus. Too often, we quickly pray and go back to human fix-it-quick strategies. God says focus (set all else aside) and make that focus Him (not a worldly solution).
Have someone in your group read Isaiah 8:16-22.
What is it about the supernatural that creates such an appeal for many people?
- They do not know Jesus, therefore, they find it much easier to know someone who once lived but now is dead.
- They allow themselves to be manipulated by the mediums that intercede with the (dead spirits). They are told what they want to hear.
- They are afraid of God’s truth. His truth is not something that can be rationalized, reworked, summarized, classified, or even understood. God is God. His work is His work. This leaves people feeling like they are not in control. Guess what? They are not.
Use this time to have your group spend time sharing any experience, personal or hearsay, where God has delivered someone from fear.
How do these faith experiences where fear has been overcome serve God’s kingdom?
- The testimony of “overcome fear” is one of the most powerful there is. In this, we learn how God works in our lives through examples. While some worship the “dead” gods of spirits, rocks (stars), wealth, position, etc., the only proven way to overcome fear is through placing our faith in our God.
How can the average Christian help others overcome fear?
- If overcoming fear is done so through focusing on God, then we must help others in fear focus on God. This is through our witness, examples, our help, our prayers, our involvement in their lives. Fear, human fear, is very real. Yet we are told by this lesson that fear lives until we release it to God, who is the ultimate recycler. Fear is recycled into opportunities, both personal and through community, to strengthen one’s faith, hope and bravery with respect to living in this world.
Bible Truth Being Taught
God wants our relationship with Him to be based on faith, not fear.
To relinquish all fears to God so that He can give each of us trust, confidence, and peace of mind even in the most difficult situations.