“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Sometimes, the same scene, viewed through two different lenses, can look very different. You’ve perhaps heard or even witnessed something like this before. You see a man push an old woman down in the middle of the street. What should we think? If that’s all we know, then he’s a scoundrel. If, however, he is doing it to get her out of the way of an oncoming car, he’s a hero. What we see here in Isaiah is subject to the same sort of interpretive conundrum.
Now, I talked at length about the context of this verse in my sermon from this past Sunday which is this past Monday’s blog entry. Go back and read that here if you are interested. It will certainly give you more perspective on what’s happening. This morning, I want to keep my focus a bit narrower than that.
There are two ways that a virgin can become pregnant; one mundane, one miraculous. Isaiah’s original audience as well as his audience over the next several hundred years would have thought of it in mundane terms. This was a prophecy about a young woman becoming pregnant by the normal means. In its original context, this would be a sign of God’s impending judgment.
But neither God nor Isaiah had a mundane fulfillment as the most significant way this prophecy should be understood. You see, while Isaiah had his sights fixed firmly on King Ahaz, he was simultaneously looking much further down the road than that.
As a matter of fact, he was looking almost 700 years down the road to a time when another virgin would become pregnant, but this time the means would not be mundane at all. You see, this young woman was engaged—betrothed, really—but chaste. And before the day of her wedding arrived, she became pregnant all by herself. Well, she had some help, but it was not the help all her contemporaries surely thought it was.
She would be the second fulfillment of this prophecy, and this time it was entirely miraculous. She conceived as a virgin and remained a virgin until the day she delivered a beautiful, healthy, baby boy into this world, her faithful fiancée by her side the whole time.
Now, I want you to think for a minute because this is important. What are the odds of this kind of thing happening? A million to one? A billion to one? Those are way too generous. I mean, a virgin conceiving? From everything we know about the science of human reproduction that is a physical impossibility. There’s no way this could have happened…unless there was someone monkeying with the system to make it so. What’s more, you figure that if that happened everyone would eventually find out about it because it would be such a big deal. Well, we know of it happening exactly once. That’s all it took.
Christmas was a miracle from start to finish. Jesus’ coming was a miracle if for no other reason that no one else could have fulfilled all the prophecies about Him in the Scriptures. What we are celebrating at Christmas is the miracle of miracles. Jesus has come in exactly the right way and at exactly the right time. Our perfect and wise heavenly Father planned it all out in specific detail starting way, way before it came about. His love for us is that big.
So, as we continue forward in this season of miracles, may you know the joy and life found only in the greatest miracle of all: God is with us. God is with you. Rest in His arms of love and find what you are looking for. You’ll be glad you did.