The Sign of the Child (Advent)


“Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:18)

As he looked towards Israel’s future, why did the prophet Isaiah keep using the metaphor of a child?

And why –for that matter– did God inspire him to do so?  Why did God choose a child as a suitable vehicle in the effecting of His purpose (even to the point of coming to us Himself in the form of a child)?

I suppose that, first of all, a child symbolises new beginnings. Ask any parent. Things are different when the baby is born!

And that new beginning is inevitably mixed with hope, optimism and attended with joy. Something totally new is upon us. It’s good news!

Perhaps this is what God is saying to us. God intends the child to be the sign of the transition from the old into the new. “Sorrow endures for the night but joy comes in the morning.”   And this wonderful joy is actually effected in and through Isaiah’s prophecy of a child—the ultimate child of Christmas.

Jesus was the ultimate “sign and symbol in Israel from the Lord Almighty.” He was announced as such in the nativity account of Luke (2:12): “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Lord, I want to read the “sign of the child” with great care and attention this coming Christmas. You are doing something new; it’s something small and apparently insignificant but a thing that changes everything for ever.

The sign of the child is a hope for my future wrapped in a tiny frame.

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