“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NASB)
This is a familiar Christmas passage, but it is interesting to look at the context from which it comes (Isaiah 7). Ahaz, king of Judah, was fearful because his kingdom was anticipating an attack by the forces of the kings of rebellious Israel and Syria. The LORD sent Isaiah the prophet – along with his son, whose name meant “a remnant shall return” – to Ahaz to reassure him, telling him, “Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands…” Even though the plan those kings were formulating was for evil against Judah, GOD unequivocally stated, “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass.” And the LORD told Ahaz to ask for a sign, to request a proof from God that what He was telling him would actually become reality. Ahaz, in disobedience, refused to ask for a sign; but that is when the prophet told him (and us) what would be the indication that God’s word would come to pass, that the enemies of God’s people would be defeated – namely, the virgin birth.
Wow! Did you catch that? The birth of Jesus, which we celebrate each year at Christmas, is God’s indication, His promise really, that our enemies – Satan and sin and death – would be defeated. Of course we know (at least theologically), being on this side of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, that those enemies have already been conquered – Hallelujah! – and Christ is seated triumphantly on heaven’s throne (Ephesians 1:20). But we’re still living in the confines of time on this sin-sick and cursed planet where our enemies are still very busy causing problems and grief. However, no matter what the enemies’ plans are against God’s people, no matter how much noise or smoke the attackers generate to try to shake us up, God says they are has-beens – “smoldering firebrands” – doomed to defeat. And the proof of that is Christ’s birth, which is probably the most well-known and well-documented birth in all of human history!
But this unusual birth would be much more than just a sign, because the Child who was born would Himself bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. The New Testament sheds further light upon this remarkable prophecy. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (Matthew 1:21-23) The miraculous result of the virgin birth is “God with us”. The human baby born to Mary is also the only begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9). And He came with a mission, which even His name proclaims, as the angel had explained to Joseph (Matthew 1:21). Yeshua (the Hebrew name translated in Greek as Jesus) means The LORD saves.
The eternal, incomparable, Creator and Supreme Ruler of all that has ever existed condescended to take on human form and flesh to rescue us from our enemies! And only He – the perfect man, the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) – could do so. But why would He? The answer is found in that very familiar verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
The great, immeasurable, inexhaustible love of God is the message of Christmas. God gave because He loves. God saves because He loves. Love is much more than a feeling for God. It is more than an action. Love is part of the very essence and nature of our God (1 John 4:8,16). And He is the One we celebrate on December 25th, knowing that the virgin birth of Jesus is a sure and irrefutable sign that we need not fear any enemy who comes against us, because God Almighty Himself is with us to save us.