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Miraculous Conception

The idea of a woman getting pregnant without the help of a male partner is not particularly amazing today. In vitro fertilization is commonly practiced. Test tube babies are a product of human ingenuity and modern science. Yet as remarkable as this is, male and female donors are still needed to create human life.

An incredible exception to this is recorded in Scripture, first as a prophetic prediction, then as a historic fulfillment.

Isaiah said to king Ahaz, “Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (which means God is with us)” (Isaiah 7:14, NLT).

We must admit, this sounds pretty bizarre. We could have easily forgiven Joseph (Mary’s fiancé) for not believing her story.

Hundreds of years after king Ahaz made his prediction, a peasant craftsman named Joseph found himself in the exact situation that Ahaz had described. The young virgin he was engaged to marry became pregnant, which could only mean one of two things. Either she had been raped, or she had willingly consented to a sexual encounter with another man. Either way it was not good.

Being a man of integrity, Joseph didn’t want to shame Mary, but what could he do?

“While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.’ This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Immanuel, Hebrew for ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:20, NLT).

The idea that God is with us seems far fetched at times. In a world besieged by crime, sexual abuse, moral corruption and greed; where evil people continue to have the upper hand! Where politicians game the system for their own good and lie to cover their tracks—Scripture has the audacity to claim that God is with us? Where? Where was God when little four-year-old Josiah was molested by his step dad? Where was God when hundreds of Syrian children were killed by ISIS guerrillas in Aleppo? Where was God when thousands of struggling families were tricked out of their homes by greedy bankers during America’s 2008 housing crisis?

“Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you” (Psalm 82:8, NLT).

We have a problem with God’s patience and mercy, except when it applies to us.

God’s answer to all of the world’s evil is not annihilation, revenge or brut force, but a humble virgin, miraculously impregnated with God’s seed. It is both bizarre and genius to think that such a quiet introduction of divinity could eventually result in human redemption! Yet God takes the long road to righting the world’s wrongs because he knows that “haste makes waste.”

“You must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:8-9, NLT).

The idea that God could conceal himself in human flesh and show up as one of us reminds us of the strategy that was used by the Greeks in a popular mythological tale.

“The Trojan Horse is a tale from the Trojan War about the subterfuge that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and win the war. In the canonical version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war” (Wikipedia).

God became flesh, not to use subterfuge or force, but to openly display the character of his Kingdom.

“The King of glory stooped low to take humanity. Rude and forbidding were His earthly surroundings. His glory was veiled, that the majesty of His outward form might not become an object of attraction. He shunned all outward display. Riches, worldly honor, and human greatness can never save a soul from death; Jesus purposed that no attraction of an earthly nature should call men to His side. Only the beauty of heavenly truth must draw those who would follow Him” (Desire of Ages, p. 43).

When we allow the seed of God’s character to impregnate our hearts with grace we can expect a harvest that bears heaven’s signature.

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT).

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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