Monday, December 19, 2011

Virgin Nativity

Isaiah 7:11, 14 (NLT) “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation... Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” Wow! What a challenge! Do you want confirmation about something? Ask for any sign you can imagine. But the offer is deferred. So God takes up His own challenge; Isaiah 7:14 ...the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). For thousands of years Jews have pondered the challenge avoided by Ahaz, but forced by God. A sign 'as high as heaven or as deep as hell'. A pregnant virgin? Everyone knew that was silly impossible. For thousands of years. Of course there have always been girls who could not understand how their pregnancy occurred. And yes, there have been myths about sex with gods. But never did pregnancy and virginity go together in any of these incidents. Sensible people knew. Until God stated His own sign. The sign will be a virgin birth. And until Joseph and Mary. For the first time, someone had the audacity to claim impregnation by God... and still be a virgin. Luke 1: 26-38 (NLT) In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”  29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”  34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”  35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God... 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”  38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. And from Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT) This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:  23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!       She will give birth to a son,    and they will call him Immanuel,       which means ‘God is with us.’”  24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Oh, scoffers with sly smirks mocked believers on that one! For the last two thousand years smart people knowingly acknowledged the claim as a 'symbolic' story... or less. All believers could do was quote the Angel, “With God, all things are possible.” Right... Until the early 1940s. Thousands of years after the sign was pronounced, nearly two thousand years after the sign was fulfilled, artificial insemination was first successfully performed on a human. The possibility of a virgin bearing a child was scientifically proved. Science finally caught up with the sign. Now a sign always is less that the event it validates. But this, this was not a small sign. It was a sign 'as high as heaven, as low as hell,' pronounced by God Himself! What event on earth could be greater than a sign like that? Nothing on earth. Only Immanuel. God with us.

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