I love the story of the birth of Jesus for many reasons. We can learn so much from this story in God's word.
I have been thinking and meditating on one specific part of His
birth story though.
"This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths
and lying in a manger." (Luke 2:12, NIV - emphasis added mine)
Before that scripture verse, there is a lot to read and understand---much
depth. We can gain knowledge, insight, and wisdom from this particular
Let's pick up with this story, starting in v8.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over
their flocks at night. An angel of the
Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they
were terrified. But the
angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause
great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the
Messiah, the Lord. This
will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a
manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the
angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those
on whom His favor rests.” When the angels had left
them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to
Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us
about.” (Luke 2:8-15, NIV - emphasis added mine)
An angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, and they
were terrified. Does that remind you of
anyone else in the Bible?
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV - emphasis added mine)
An angel of the Lord also appeared to Joseph in a dream. This angel also told Joseph to not be afraid. However, in this case, the word was spoken to Joseph to take Mary home to be his wife. This prophecy was given by the angel to Joseph about his future with his wife, Mary.
The previous passage in Luke was also a prophecy from the angel foretelling future events regarding the birth of Jesus. However, in this specific part, the angel spoke to the shepherds about the expected environment surrounding Jesus' birth.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved----and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (Philippians 1:27-30, NIV - emphasis added mine)
Paul wrote this letter to the believers in the church at Philippi. He was encouraging them to live worthy of the Gospel. He wanted to make sure that they knew to stand firm in the spirit and strive together in the faith. He told them that it would be a sign to them. Their opponents would be destroyed, but they would be saved by God.
We are not to live by signs in this natural and physical world. However, God does speak to us as His children. Often throughout scripture, He uses phrases such as "This will be a sign to you." God prophesies through other people. He spoke through the angel to the shepherds regarding Jesus' birth. He also spoke through an angel to Joseph in a dream. In addition, He spoke through the Apostle Paul and foretold what the Lord had told him to the people in Philippi. God tells us, His children, what is to come regarding His purpose and plan for us.
Some people need signs in this natural world, before they will actually believe God and His promise to them. However, God does not want us to live that way. Neither does Jesus as He spoke about signs and wonders in John's account.
"Unless you people see signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe." (John 4:48, NIV)
Jesus had said this to a royal official before the man's son had actually received his physical healing from Him. He seemed somewhat 'put off' or irritated by the man's doubt and unbelief beforehand. He wants all of us to trust and believe Him. We just need to take Him at His word. Additionally, we need to know that He first reveals things to us by His Spirit before they manifest in this world.
"...What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived"---the things God has prepared for those who love Him---these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, NIV - emphasis added mine)
Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.