Have you ever asked for a sign? You know – “God, if this is the job you want me to take, let them email me by 5pm today” or “God if this is the guy you want me to go out with, make it rain for5 minutes and then stop”. Yeah, some signs we ask for can be a bit dodge, sort of like asking God to be your own personal magician. Yet this Sunday in Advent, we hear God himself begging us to ask him for a sign:
“Ask for a sign from the Lord your God; let it be as deep as Hades or as high as the sky!”
But Ahaz (the king of the day) felt bad about asking for a sign – it just wasn’t cool to put God to the test (a bit like ‘Hail Mary full of grace, help me find a parking space”). Then God gets so frustrated that he busts out a Messianic prophecy:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel (which means ‘God with us’).” – Isaiah 7:10-14
I love this story. It’s like God was busting to let us in on ‘his big secret’. What secret? That very soon he planned to send his own Son – who would be God himself on earth with us - hence the code name ‘Emmanuel’. But then in the gospel we read that Mary and Joseph name him Jesus, which means “he will save the people from their sins” (Mathew 1:18-24). Wait - what happened? Didn’t they get the memo? Put the two names together though and there’s one pretty big sign that God has given you and me: God is coming to be with us – ‘Emmanuel’ – and not only that, but to save us from our sins – ‘Jesus’.
Yeah I’d love a sign from God. I’d love to know what to do next year, what numbers will win me the lotto, a sign to know what direction will make me, rich, happy or successful. Wouldn’t you? Hell yeah! But God has already given us the greatest sign he could ever give. A virgin – think about it - gave birth to God. That kind of thing just doesn’t happen every day!
Next time you see a star in the sky, drive past some Christmas lights, or are about to ask God for a sign – stop and thank him for the greatest sign he could ever give. Jesus. God with us!
This Sunday's Scripture readings:
ISAIAH 7:10-14 | PSALMS 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 | ROMANS 1:1-7 | MATTHEW 1:18-24