Isaiah 7:14 “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.”
Jesus’ birth is a sign. That means that there is more to it than meets the eye. As true as it is that a baby was born, and born into humility and poverty, there is something more beneath the surface. Jesus’ birth means something.
Interestingly, God sent Isaiah to give this sign to an unbeliever! Ahaz was the king of God’s chosen people, a king in David’s royal family. But King Ahaz didn’t want God to give him any signs. That may seem hard for us to understand. People are begging for a spectacular sign. They want spectacular proof that God exists, and that he cares. But Ahaz was firm–he didn’t want any signs.
You see, Ahaz had already made up his mind that he didn’t want to follow the God of his fathers. He enjoyed worshiping the gods he had chosen instead. Maybe there really was only one God who exists, but Ahaz didn’t want to be confused by the facts. He didn’t want a sign.
Even when Ahaz was in deep trouble, he didn’t want a sign. Ahaz was afraid for his life, because two neighboring kings named Pekah and Rezin had made an alliance and decided to remove him from the throne in Jerusalem. They were going to put an end to the dynasty of David, and install their own man as king of Judah instead.
Though Ahaz was an unbeliever, the Lord could not let the family line of David be destroyed. That would be the end to the promise of a Savior. So the Lord sent Isaiah to Ahaz with a promise that the Lord would take care of Ahaz and his kingdom. As proof that his word was good, the Lord even offered to let Ahaz ask for a sign, any miraculous sign he wanted. But Ahaz realized that if he asked for a sign and got it, he would have to admit the power and truth of the Lord and his word. Ahaz refused to ask for a sign.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign,” Isaiah insisted. God is faithful. His promises can be trusted. He wants this to be known. If Ahaz wouldn’t ask for a sign, the Lord would provide one of his own making. Then, at least, others could be certain of his promises. That sign is contained in the birth of our Savior and the events surrounding Christmas.
Do you see a warning for us in Ahaz’s refusal? Perhaps we aren’t tempted to worship other gods–at least not the kind that are made of wood and stone and sit in pagan temples. But we daily set our hearts on things God forbids in his word. We daily desire to do things our own way rather than trust God and his ways. That desire is strong. We simply want what we want. Like Ahaz, we don’t want to be confused by the facts!
But God’s word hasn’t changed. He is faithful to his word and promises. Jesus’ birth is a sign which has proven this. So we must conclude that we ignore or defy God’s word at our peril.
But “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” As God’s believing children, we find the greatest assurances in the sign of Jesus’ birth. God has sent a Savior to redeem us from our sin! God has fulfilled his greatest, most difficult, most painful, and most needed promises in Jesus’ life and death.
If he has done this, can’t we be sure that his angels camp all around us–as he has promised? Can’t we be sure that he will give us our food at the proper time, that he will satisfy the desires of every living thing–as he has promised? Can’t we be certain that he will come again, and take us to be with him–just as he has promised? Our Savior has no ordinary birth. It is a sign that we can trust all of his other promises, too.