“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
— Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
Have you ever asked God to give you a sign? Some kind of notice of what is to come, or direction for an important decision? Ever get frustrated or discouraged when God doesn’t seem to deliver the sign you are looking for? Yeah, me too.
The prophet Isaiah told the people of Israel to look for a particular sign. And when they saw it, they could know that the Messiah had come. Did you ever think of Jesus’ miraculous birth as a sign? Did you ever think of Jesus’ birth as a sign for us in the 21st century too? Consider this: Sometimes when we ask for a sign, God may be saying to us, “I’ve already given you the sign you need for the situation you’re in, and it’s the sign of Jesus’ birth.” Hmmm. . .
God told us a lot about Jesus through the prophet Isaiah. Even if we just look at the highlights, we can see that Isaiah’s prophecies painted a pretty accurate picture of how the Messiah’s life on earth would unfold, starting with His birth, predicted exactly as it miraculously occurred. Isaiah continued to tell his listeners that the Messiah would be preceded by a messenger, He would be called God, He would perform miracles, He would be spat upon, beaten, and rejected. He would remain silent before His accusers and would be killed for our sins.
Sound familiar? Of course it does! But wait! There’s more.
The eternal plan that started with Jesus’ miraculous birth has concluding chapters still to come. We can feel particularly privileged to look forward to this exciting conclusion, because the Messiah Himself told us about it. In His own words, it goes like this:
“. . .They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” (Matthew 24:30b-31 (NIV))
Again in His own words — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 (NIV))
The concluding chapters to the story that begins with the miraculous sign of His birth, have Jesus returning to earth once and for all, to rid it of all its brokenness and sin, restoring it to its original design – free of all the sadness, tears, death, and struggle that man has brought into it. (see Revelation 21:1-4)
But what does this sign have to say to us as we face important decisions today? Again, Jesus provided the answer in the form of several parables. Let’s look at a few…
Be ready (Matthew 25:1-13)
In the parable of the 10 virgins, five virgins prepare for the coming bridegroom by bringing extra oil for their lamps. Five others do not. When the bridegroom finally arrives, the five virgins without extra oil are missing, having gone back to get more oil. They miss out on the wedding banquet intended for them all. In each decision we face each day, we are to choose that which prepares us for His coming.
Seek to hear the precious words (Matthew 25:14-30)
In the parable of the talents, servants are given portions of a master’s wealth to manage. When the master returns, some have advanced the master’s wealth, one does not. The master responds to those who have worked hard and earned more, “well done good and faithful servant.” The master responds to the one who didn’t with a severe rebuke and an eternity filled with darkness. In each decision we face each day, we are to choose that which would garner a favorable evaluation, the precious words, from Jesus when He returns.
Be sheep, not goats (Matthew 25:31-46)
In the parable of the sheep and the goats, people are separated into two groups based on how they treated those around them, particularly those who were hurting, down-trodden, and often overlooked. The sheep are those who offered food, drink, hospitality, clothes, care, and compassion to those most in need. Doing these things is like doing them for Jesus Himself. The sheep inherit the Kingdom. The goats are those who didn’t. Overlooking these things is like overlooking Jesus Himself. The goats are eternally punished.
Rather than looking at Jesus’ miraculous birth as a sign for those who lived 2,000 years ago, look at it as a sign of the entire eternal plan, some of which is still to come. If we do this, we will be ready when the trumpet sounds, when the clouds come down, and we will hear Him say, “well done good and faithful servant.” That’s the truth.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. This sign will provide you with direction for each day, so that you can prepare for His coming again, that you will hear those precious words “well done”, and you will inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.
©2008, 2010 Dan Buckhout
Scripture marked (NKJV) taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by Permission. All rights reseved.
Scripture marked (NIV) taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Internatonal Bible Society.
Used by permission of International Bible Society.