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.
This is a prophecy about the Messiah being born of a virgin. We sometimes hear it read during this season.
As wonderful as this verse is, it’s even richer when you know the whole story. I believe in the importance of context. So I want to talk about how this prophecy came about.
King Uzziah was one of the greatest kings of Judah. He served God faithfully and gained victory after victory. One of his failures was that he didn’t remove the high places where people worshiped other gods in Israel.
Then one day, in an act of pride, he decided that he was holy enough to burn incense in the temple. Because of this, he was struck with leprosy until the day of his death.
Then Uzziah’s son Jotham became king. He served God and kept the status quo. Just like his father, he didn’t remove the high places. During his rule, Israel and the nation of Aram start to attack Judah.
After Jotham, Ahaz became king. He didn’t serve God at all. He actually worshipped at the high places. Then Israel and Aram begin to step up their attacks. Judah is in absolute fear over this.
It’s at this point in their history that God sends the prophet Isaiah with a Word for Ahaz.
“Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood — because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.’”
Isaiah prophesies about victory. But then he says something interesting.
Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
This is absolutely incredible. He is told to ask anything, even to the point of raising the dead. That rarely happens.
We serve a God of signs. A sign, in Scripture, means a signal – like traffic signals. A sign is a signal of God’s will.
Stop, do not enter, one way. It’s one of the things God uses to make sure we’re on track.
The world is full of signs. We were given the sun, moon and stars. God has established them as signs for times and seasons. A rainbow is a sign to remind us of God’s covenant.
I want to take a few posts to talk about supernatural signs, and how they fit into the plan of God for us.
Question: Can you think of any other signs that God has used?
© Nick Zaccardi 2015