Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson.
1. Historically, have there been nations or people who sought the protection of a stronger power only later to be swallowed up and taken over by the power protecting them? Explain your answer.
2. Have you ever wondered if God was big enough to take care of the most challenging circumstances in your life?
Read Isaiah 7:9b-14
1. The Ahaz/Judah Back Story: Through God’s help, King Ahaz triumphed over enemies from the south but later turned to the powerful Assyrians from the north to save the day. How did God reassure Ahaz that he would win by faith rather than by trusting in an earthly army?
2. Why did King Ahaz refuse to comply when God told him to ask for a sign? What can we learn from Isaiah’s response to the king’s refusal?
3. Where do you place your trust when difficult things happen? What does it mean to stand firm in faith and not be hindered by circumstances?
Read Isaiah 7:14, 15
4. Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled hundreds of years later. Read Matthew 1:18-25. What was Joseph’s dilemma? Discuss why Isaiah 7:14 is quoted here and what Joseph’s response was to the angel’s dream message.
5. How were Joseph’s and Ahaz’s circumstances similar? How were their responses different?
Read Isaiah 7:16-18
6. The Ahaz/Judah End Game: Ahaz hired Assyria to help him defeat his enemies. (For further study, you can read Ahaz’s wickedness afterward in 2 Kings 16!) Soon after the Assyrians attacked the kingdom of Judah, resettling and scattering most of her people across the empire and leaving the land barren. What practical lessons can we draw from this ancient king and his fate?
7. What hardships or trials are you or someone you know facing now or in the coming week? Who or what are you trusting in to save the day? Immanuel means “God with us” and Jesus means “the Lord saves.” Reread Matthew 1:21 aloud. How can we be reassured that in our lives and our homes, “God’s got this.”
Conclude your group time with prayer, using the following as a guide.
Lord, why do we trust in anything other than you? Be with us, Immanuel; come save us, Jesus! This Advent season, we welcome the Savior into our lives and our homes.