Luke 2:11-14: “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Angels were giving out clues to local shepherds who were camping out in the desert under the Middle Eastern Skies. For days on end, shepherds would work and sleep outdoors, allowing the flock to graze on the steep slopes and spending the nights guarding the open sheepfolds. Desert nights can be pretty cold. They most likely had a fire burning while taking turns in their night watch when, all of a sudden, night turned into day. Angels from Heaven came with some exciting news: “The Messiah is born!” The shepherds were awestruck. “The Messiah is born? Here, in this neighborhood? Where would we find him?” This is where it gets interesting. And here goes: “You’ll find the baby sleeping in a feeding trough.” Then the angels were gone. Armed with a very good clue – baby sleeping in farm equipment is a good one – the shepherds went to meet Jesus.

From Mary’s and Joseph’s point of view, out of the blue there was a knock on the barn door. Resting after a long and treacherous journey, which was topped off by Mary going into labor, the couple must have been exhausted; but they were probably too excited to go to sleep right away. Gazing at their newborn in wonder, many questions must have raced through their minds.

And then, there they were: Shepherds who have listened to angel reports; Shepherds who could not have known that Mary just gave birth to an extraordinary baby; Shepherds who knew that they were laying eyes on the Son of God. Overwhelmed, everybody bowed their heads and prayed.

I believe God still speaks to us through signs and clues. We all can have our divine moments. However, we need to pay attention. God may have been speaking to us all along, but we’re too busy to notice. Although at times God can be very obvious (it’s hard to overlook a host of angels), I believe most of the time He is more subtle. And if we pick up on God’s language, we too have a story to share – one of the best stories in God’s point of view is our story how we met Him. As we continue to pick up on God’s way of communicating we’ll find that our story has just begun!

Isaiah 7:14: “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’).”

During Prophet Isaiah’s lifetime the home country of the Jews was divided between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. The split happened after King Solomon had died, and ever since the two kingdoms had been at odds.

Now Judah’s King Ahaz was threatened by Israel’s King Pekah. King Pekah made an alliance with the Syrian King to overturn the kingdom of Judah. Naturally, King Ahaz became extremely anxious about the impending war.

In this situation God spoke words of encouragement to King Ahaz and the people of Judah by saying that the planned invasion of Israel and Syria won’t happen. And in order to confirm the prophecy, God asked King Ahaz to request a sign from Him. For reasons unknown to us, King Ahaz refused to do so. His official statement (Isaiah 7:12):

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”

Here is Isaiah’s response to King Ahaz’s reaction (Isaiah 7:13-14a):

“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? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign.”

So, the Lord insisted on choosing a sign, since this was not really just about King Ahaz but about every son and daughter of Adam and Eve. And here is the sign God chose (Isaiah 7:14):

 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Virgins don’t get pregnant, so this is obviously a supernatural phenomenon. Also, the name of the virgin’s son is very remarkable: “I Am with you” contains God’s name “I Am”. What would you think God is suggesting with this kind of name choice other than bestowing His family name to the baby, thus implying that a pregnant virgin will give birth to the Son of God.

When Virgin Mary gave birth to a baby boy 700 years later, Isaiah’s stunning prophecy was fulfilled.

The virgin birth stands out and is different from any other demonstration of God’s involvement in human history. Supernatural phenomena such as stopping the Sun in its tracks or parting the Red Sea show God’s unlimited power. God born into a human family, Mary’s and Joseph’s family, shows His desire to be near us, so near that He becomes our relative. This very special relative of ours has a name: “The One who saves”, aka Jesus.

Bells of Night written and performed by Bill and Evelyn Snyder, recorded by Alpha Recording LLC. All rights reserved.