“All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).”
“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.”
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”
Isaiah 7:14, 9:2, 6-7 NLT
If we were going to write about a sign of something coming, we would relate it to the world around us. As a small boy I learned to look for the mechanical railway signal changing, because then I knew a train was coming. And it did, soon enough, a great fiery snorting beast puffing clouds of smoke and steam on its way at speed through the station near where I lived. We receive an indication, a sign, of the next day’s weather by the sunset the previous evening. A doctor checks a patient’s blood pressure, looking for signs of heart-related and other types of illness. Signals and trains, sunsets and weather, blood pressure and illness. All related indicators and signs helping to foresee an event that may or may not be coming.
But here we have a crisis in Judah’s history. The king of Israel had joined forces with the king of Syria to capture Judah, and in Isaiah 7:23 we read that “…the hearts of the king and his people trembled with fear, like trees shaking in a storm“. Through Isaiah, God told Judah’s king, Ahaz, that the expected invasion would never happen. To reassure Ahaz further, we read in Isaiah 7:10-11, “Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead””. But because Ahaz refused to do as God suggested, God Himself gave him a sign. And what a sign it was! Perhaps the people would have expected some mighty warrior to come and rally their demoralised troops, as a sign of victory ahead. Or perhaps they expected some astrological sign in the heavens giving them a hint. And I’m sure signs were looked for everywhere. Who would ever expected, though, the sign to be sent through a virgin. A young woman not yet betrothed. I’m sure no-one saw that coming!
In hindsight, we pilgrims can only be amazed and astounded by this prophetic word delivered through Isaiah hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. Its accuracy can only mean that God was at work. That God had a plan for the salvation of mankind, an infinitely bigger issue than a comparatively-minor fracas between local nations in Palestine. The accuracy of Biblical prophecy is beyond question, and we worship and praise our wonderful God, who has given us access to His thoughts. His precepts. His loving care. May we pilgrims celebrate afresh, worshipping the Saviour of the World.
Dear Lord Jesus. We thank You that You came to Planet Earth so willingly, to come and get us, a rescue mission like no others. We worship You today. Amen.