Advent Devotion for December 21
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “A virgin will conceive a child.”
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 7:10-16
10 Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: 11 “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
12 But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? 14 All right then, 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’). 15 By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. 16 For before the child is that old, the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-35
26 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.
SOME THOUGHTS: A word of context for the Isaiah passage will be helpful. The nation of Israel split into the ten Northern Tribes (Israel) and the two Southern Tribes (Judah) in 931 BC. It was now 734 BC and Ahaz was king of Judah. Israel and Syria had made an alliance to take over Judah and Ahaz was afraid. The Lord challenged Ahaz to trust him for deliverance and said that he would give a sign to Ahaz to confirm. But Ahaz was afraid to trust God, and so made an alliance with Assyria, which later overran Judah. The Lord also told Ahaz that before the boy, Immanuel, born of the virgin, was twelve (the age of knowing right and wrong), he’d be eating yogurt and honey. These were delicacies, but by then there would be so few people left in Judah that they would be available to everyone. Within the twelve years (722 BC) both Israel and Syria were overrun, and their kings deposed, just as God had said. Luke, in his gospel, sheds further prophetic light on the Isaiah passage in the angel Gabriel’s encounter with Mary. What was an historical shadow, now became a specific reality in that the baby conceived within Mary’s womb, was the result of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary. Literally, God was the Father and Mary the mother of the Savior. It is quite likely that Mary herself gave Luke all the information concerning the birth of Jesus. For some people, the virgin birth of Jesus is a stumbling block, yet the Scriptures are so clear, Jesus is fully God and fully human. It could be no other way for his birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension to be efficacious. Unless God comes to us, we have no hope, for we can never attain unto God. Only a sinless human can make the connection and that is exactly what our great God has done! If it is not a virgin birth, then it is not a sinless Christ. And if we have not a sinless human Christ, we have no salvation. But we are “in Christ” as a new creation and in that we greatly rejoice! The nativity is so much more than the simple birth of Jesus.
MUSIC: “The Jesus Child” The Cambridge Singers (YouTube)
PRAYER: How deep is the mind of God’s wisdom, of his knowledge; how inscrutable are his judgments. How undiscoverable his ways! Who has ever understood the Lord’s thoughts or been his counselor? Who ever was the first to give, and so earned his favors? All things find in him their origin, impulse, and goal; to him be glory throughout all ages. Amen. - Romans 11:33-36