The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song. The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent. At Crave Something More and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.” Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.
Day 3: The Sign of Christmas
If you had to pick just one symbol or sign for Christmas, what would it be? If Google Images is of any help, then Christmas is symbolized by the Christmas tree, or bells, or snow fall against a lit home, or Santa, or ornaments, or gifts, or candy canes, or Homer Simpson on a rooftop in a Santa costume.
But God’s sign was much simpler than all of this. God’s sign was a baby.
“Ask a sign of the LORD your God,” the Lord said to King Ahaz of Judah, “let it be deep as Sheol or as high as heaven.” Ahaz was facing a great threat when he heard this from the Lord. Rezin, the king of Syria, and Pekah, the king of Israel were at the foothills of Jerusalem, readying an attack. And the hearts of Ahaz and his people “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.” There was no steadiness of heart; there was no resolve. There was only the unsettling fear that blew gusts of dread among the people.
So the Lord sent Isaiah to calm Ahaz and his people: “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass…If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.”
Ahaz’s faith must not have been firm, because this is where the Lord came to Ahaz to tell him to ask for a sign—an impossible sign! How deep is Sheol? There is no depth to speak of. How high is heaven? There is no height to measure. God was basically saying this: My word will stand, Ahaz. What I have promised, I will bring about. I will deliver My people. In fact, you can ask anything you can think of as a sign to prove it—anything at all. Because I have power and control over all things.
And when Ahaz refused God’s offer, saying “I will not put the Lord to the test,” God promised a sign anyway. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (which means, “God is with us”).” This is a strange sign to be sure. I’m not sure how Ahaz would have felt at hearing this sign. Great, who is the virgin? Is she conceiving soon, because those two armies are still encamped against us?
But God’s story was greater than Ahaz’s story, just as God’s story is greater than our own. And God’s sign was the impossible sign. Virgin’s don’t conceive and bear sons. No one would think to ask for a sign like this. But all things are possible with God. And wrapped up in this sign, for Ahaz and for us, is the promise of God for deliverance, the promise for salvation from our enemies, the promise that God has our good in mind.
Jesus is this sign. He is this promise. He is our deliverance from sin, and our salvation from Satan’s grasps, and our promise of God’s goodness to us. So when we see the symbols of Christmas in our homes and on our streets and in the public squares this month, let us see through them to the impossible sign that God promised, the glory of a helpless baby who would be our great Deliverer.
For the rest of the 21 Days of Crave Something More Christmas, go here.