24 December 2008
Two things in view and a baby born of a virgin
For the first, the story is told of two ladies sitting on the porch on a Wednesday evening in Tennessee. One is listening to the church choir practicing and the other is listening to the sounds of the crickets. The first, "Don't they make beautiful music?" Replied the second, "Yes, and I hear they do it by rubbing their legs together."
For the 2nd, and more timely to the season is the story told by Isaiah the Jewish prophet some 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah is writing his prophecy to encourage two different sets of folks. One living in his time, much like the wall and bridge we see in the photo, and the other group of people who are living 7 centuries later, much like the faint far-away building in the background of the photo.
The hint of how this works in found in Isaiah chapter 7 verse 14. There we read "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."
The hint? The Hebrew word for 'you' in verse 14 is in the plural. Whereas the context of the comforting words is a message to the king, King Ahaz, all of a sudden, there is a shift to make this plural. So a larger group can be assured of the sign, of the guarantee of God's presence. I believe this is the double view of the prophet.
The significance for us? God wanted to speak words of comfort to the king in 700 BC (or so) and that's good news for him. And God wants to speak good news and comfort to us about a virgin having a baby and his name would be "God with us" (That's how Immanuel translates).
When I hear the Christmas story, I don't think of Santa, or of presents or reindeer. I think of God comforting us, of sending his presence and of the redemption that's found only in the Son of the Virgin, Y'shua (Jesus), who gives eternal life to all who believe.
That's good news!
To all who read this blog... a very merry Messiah-mas!
Actual text of Isaiah says this, "Not long after this, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: "Ask me for a sign, Ahaz, to prove that I will crush your enemies as I have promised. Ask for anything you like, and make it as difficult as you want." But the king refused. "No," he said, "I wouldn't test the LORD like that."Then Isaiah said, "Listen well, you royal family of David! You aren't satisfied to exhaust my patience. You exhaust the patience of God as well! All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin* will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel--`God is with us.' By the time this child is old enough to eat curds and honey, he will know enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong. But before he knows right from wrong, the two kings you fear so much--the kings of Israel and Aram--will both be dead. " (Isaiah 7.10-16)
My new friend Alvaro, who lives in Madrid, shot this photo on a trip to Pamplona last month. Gracias, amigo, por la foto. Y Feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo.