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An Unexpected Sign for the Messiah's Birth

(Isaiah 7:13-17; Luke 1:30-38)

Lesson 2 -- first quarter 2010
December 13, 2009

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2009

Introductory questions to chew

"With God nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37) -- Have I sufficient faith to rest in that and live by that?

"Be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38) -- Do I trust God enough to yield to His unexpected ways and plans?

What is yieldedness to God worth to me?

What's it worth to God?

Mary, committed virgin

Isaiah prophesied many centuries before Mary that a virgin would conceive and bear a son. But he didn't specify what kind of virgin. Surely in all of Israel God could have found a holy-but-unbetrothed-and-uninvolved virgin to choose instead of Mary!

Imagine the heartache and misunderstanding God could have spared Joseph and Mary had the Spirit come upon her in one of these scenarios:

Scenario 1:

God arranges the events in Mary's life so that she never even "dates" nor is interested in a young man prior to the annunciation.

Scenario 2:

God acts sooner than He did in the Biblical record, sending Gabriel with his message before Mary is betrothed to Joseph.

Scenario 3:

God waits till immediately after Joseph and Mary's wedding, but before their marriage is consummated.

Obviously, we do not know why God decided to chose a betrothed girl to be the Lord's mother. But we do know that God chose the route of greatest blessing and efficacy. And Mary knew God well enough to have that same kind of confidence and faith in Him and His ways. We also know that Mary had her priorities straight -- God before Joseph. She was willing to lose her beloved if pleasing her Beloved required it. How readily would you yield to God's will if it threatened to cause a "break up" between you and your fiancee? Well, you answer that for yourself and we will get back to Mary's experience.

We have no inkling how long Gabriel chatted with Mary nor how many details of the divine plan he revealed to her. Maybe she expected to be spared the appearance of illegitimacy through a Scenario 3 set up. If so, morning sickness likely dashed those hopes fairly quickly. On the other hand, she may just have assumed Joseph would divorce her quietly. If so, her response as recorded in Luke 1:38 shows her readiness to patiently bear the double shame of divorce and apparent immorality. Or perhaps she remembered Job's story and wondered if the circumstances of her selection didn't reflect God's confidence in Joseph and her. If so, she knew in her heart God's limits on Satan and God's limitless grace would serve to sustain her, Joseph, and their relationship. We could hypothesize quite a bit more, but of this we can be confident -- Mary was primarily "the handmaid of the Lord" who would accept His word above all else. She knew the potential cost...and gave God a blank check.

This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: Touched With Our Weakness.

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