Sunday, December 6, 2015

the Christmas Sign

bethlehemswarriorbabysmall (2).jpgMoses captured the enslaved Israelites' attention through the signs and wonders Yahweh did through him. Until then, it would seem that the people were in a dejected and defeated mood. The Lord God also revealed the impotency of Egypt’s idols at the same time. The ten plagues were God’s declaration that He, and He alone, is sovereign. As such, He will bring judgement upon the gods of the nations (Exodus 12:12).
Signs became a feature of the Eternal God’s dealings with the people of Israel. The apostle Paul expresses this in 1 Corinthians 1:22: ‘Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom.’  Time and again in His ministry Jesus was asked for a sign, presumably from Heaven, that would verify who He was and what He did. Why they couldn’t grasp His miracles as such is beyond understanding. Jesus, however, did give them one sign, the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38,39).

There is another sign, God given, which validates Christmas for all – especially a Jewish person. It was given at the Lord’s direction through Isaiah to King Ahaz that a virgin would bring forth a child and call his name Emmanuel (7:14). The sign would be from Yahweh and done by Him. Somehow or other, God would bring this sign to fruition without the power, cunning or strategy of man.

It was that glorious night the angels shattered the Bethlehem darkness when the promised sign came into being. Luke 2:11-12: ‘Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager.’ What was so striking about this birth? We know the story so well that we miss the emotional aspects of it. How would anyone have known the details of Jesus’ birth unless Mary and Joseph, at God’s direction, told Matthew and Luke! The intimacy of pregnancy and, in Mary and Joseph’s case, the potential for embarrassment and misunderstanding, reveals how important the uncovering of this sign was. It remains so today!

You can imagine the innuendoes, wagging tongues and slander that erupted when the Gospel began circulating. Who would put themselves into such an emotional and religious cauldron if the birth of Jesus had not taken place this way? Then again, if He had never risen from the dead, no one would have been interested. Therefore, what is recorded about the birth of Jesus is to authenticate it as the fulfilment of the Isaiah declaration. Matthew makes this quite clear when he writes what the angel of the Lord said to Joseph: ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, because he will save his people from their sins all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, 'God with us.’ (Matthew 1:20-23).

Some think it unimportant to stress the virgin birth of Jesus. Part of their claim comes from the paucity of direct reference to it in the Epistles. However, the necessity for such a birth is everywhere inferred. Without it Jesus could not have been the second Adam; Jesus could not have been sinless, for He would have had a soul nature corrupted by the fall; His human spirit would have been dead to God (Ephesians 2:1-4); if He was born of ‘the flesh’ then He would be blemished in the sight of God the Father. There is no way Jesus’ crucifixion would be able to deal with humankind’s sin through substitution and identification, for He would have been in need of saving Himself.

This is a chapter from the 31 day devotional 'Bethlehem's Warrior Baby' available from Christian bookshops, Amazon etc and as an ebook.

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