“Late in Time, Behold Him Come, Offsrping of the Virgin’s Womb”
Every 4th of July, my family gathers at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for a party to see the nearby fireworks display. I say “see”, but perhaps the better word is “hear”, because every year, without fail, the trees at the edge of the property obscure a large chunk of the show. For some reason, we have not yet grasped the reality that those trees will continue to obscure our vision. Regardless of this, there is one thing that is clear, and that’s when the finale begins. Suddenly the sky begins to light up, and the explosions that were once heard every few seconds are repeating without pause.
For those of you who can actually see the fireworks on July 4th, you’ve experienced this firework-finale formula. We see beautiful lights explode intermittently, but every show ends with a dazzling display that surpasses anything before it. In many ways, the virgin birth is the finale of one of the Old Testament’s most noticeable plot threads.
It’s sort of amazing how often Old Testament stories begin with events that can be simplified to “so and so had an unexpected baby” Women like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Samson’s mother, Hannah, and Elizabeth are all in a state of barrenness, yet each of these women end up giving birth to a child who will become significant in the history of Israel. With a history like this, we might expect to find that Jesus comes from a mother who is barren as well, but what we find is altogether more incredible- a virgin birth.
With a firework-finale model in mind, we begin to understand why God would send his son by way of a virgin. He is not decrying sex as sinful or impure, nor is he making a statement about the genetic nature of sin as some may theorize. Instead, he is placing a finale at the end of his Old Testament story of unlikely births. For generations he has shown us he is capable of overcoming obstacles that seem complicated or improbable, but now, as Jesus finally arrives, God declares that his plan is capable of overcoming obstacles that are altogether impossible. Barrenness and old age have never been able to stop God, and now, even in birth, Jesus shows us that not even the laws of our reality can either!
-Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:34-37