SIGN OF A VIRGIN, Twelve Days of the Nativity, DAY 7
In this series of articles, titled “Twelve Days of the Nativity, ” We take a deeper look into the nativity and all of it’s beautiful symbols. The Twelve Days of Christmas take on a whole new meaning as we discover Jesus Christ and His Ministry!
SIGN OF A VIRGIN
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew Chapter 1)
THE SIGN OF A VIRGIN
The virgin birth was prophesied hundreds of years prior in the Book of Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). If you read this verse anciently, would you have understood it’s fulfillment when the time came? I’ve asked myself that very question over and over. If the Lord gives “signs,” what would these signs of a “virgin birth” look like in the “fulfilled” scripture of the New Testament?
A VIRGIN BIRTH
Did you know that there is debate among religious scholars about whether or not Mary was an “actual” virgin in the physical sense? I don’t bring this up to cause confusion, but rather to make a point. The Apostle Paul says that “our adoption” as “sons of God” is a spiritual one that we “put on.” Meaning, our spiritual adoption makes us as “virgins.” Paul’s words sound like he interprets virginity as a spiritual representation, but Mary’s conception, as recorded in scripture, sounds tangible. But of course, how do we discern whether a “sign” should be tangible or spiritual in its fulfillment —is it both? And so rather than debating whether or not Mary was or wasn’t an actual virgin—I want to rule out fact from fiction, and then lay a foundation for spiritual truths. What “spiritual” applications can we gather from an actual virgin birth found in nature?
IS IT POSSIBLE?
Do virgin births actually occur in nature? The answer is a resounding, yes! The scientific name of this occurrence is called parthenogenesis. It is a process in which an “embryo” develops without “fertilization” in the female. It happens in various different types of animals, specifically, reptiles, vertebrates and invertebrates. In a normal birth, DNA comes from both male and female parents, but in the instance of virgin births, it comes entirely from the mother. What causes these virgin births to occur was initially not fully known, but scientist believed this occurred as a survival instinct (from the study of virgin births occurring in snakes). Scientist believed that since these female snakes were kept in captivity and had no access to males, instinct kicked in and produced “seed”. HOWEVER, after careful observation, they learned something different that contradicted their original suspicions.
WHAT DID SCIENTIST DISCOVER?
After more observation, scientists posed a new question—do virgin births occur naturally in the wild, outside of captivity? The answer was also, yes! Evidence suggested that these species were able to do this all along. These virgin births were discovered “because of” captivity, NOT as a result of it. Scientist originally speculated that it was a survival instinct that kicked-in because these snakes had been in captivity, but evidence now shows that these animals always have been able to produce this way, and that when and if it occurs is more likely related to genetics and bloodline. Can you apply this understanding in a spiritual way to the scriptures and the bloodline (and spiritual bloodline) of Christ?
A FAMILIAR SCENARIO
Ponder with me on a scenario that we are all familiar with here in the United States—the tradition of Thanksgiving. Let’s pretend that you came from a background of poverty and religious persecution. You were essentially born into bondage. Because of circumstances beyond your control, you lived in captivity, and you, feeling caged, decided to break the cycle that had plagued your family for generations—having no knowledge beforehand of even how to do it. So you, being from a long line of people who were in “bondage” decide you were going to do something different. YOU were willing to take a leap of faith to break the cycle and do what has never been done before —you’re even willing to risk your own life to see it through. YOU are going to travel to a “new land” and seek a “new life” for your family. What “set you apart” from all those generations prior? Why, now suddenly, is your behavior different that all the previous generations who remained in slavery?
THE EXTENDED HAND OF MERCY
It’s in this journey of “accomplishing” the impossible that you discover that God’s promises are tangible. God “reveals” his “hand” extending it “symbolically” out toward you—so obvious, that you know HE is the one delivering you. The miracles are so great because you are doing the impossible. You come out of “captivity,” and discover God in the process. Not because of “being captive” but because you are of a “royal priesthood.” As it says in Peter, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).
CREATING A REMEMBRANCE
You want your children to know what “God” did for you (and for them) for generations to come, and so you create a “tradition” in your family where every year you “feast” as a “sign” of the sacrifices you made that brought you to this place of “prosperity.” You eat the same food and you share in the joy and knowledge that God was your “deliverer” and STILL IS—This “tradition” is an “outward performance” for you and your family. It’s a symbol for generations to come of the sacrifices you made to “break a cycle” of bondage, and in the process of acting in faith, you discover the “hand of God’, not because of your captivity, but because you were HIS all along. When future generations live in “continuous” times of “plenty” will your children and their children know as they continue on in this “feast”— will they know “God” like you did? Will they believe that God answers prayers in these times of plenty just as he did in times of poverty and ‘barrenness”, that it is more than just “conincidence?” Will they “know” they are of this royal priesthood?
“SIGNS” IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
The word “sign” in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew word “avah” to mean, “banners, omens, witnesses, standards.” What does this actually mean? Have you ever made a change in your life, and that change was reflected “outwardly.”
MORE THAN COINCIDENCE
Have you ever heard the quote, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Well, that’s true! When we label something a “coincidence” after asking God in prayer for it, yes, God remains anonymous. But, if we could rather, take those “coincidences,” and recognize the “pleading prayers of our heart” and its “connection” to “answered prayers from God” would it bear witness that “He is with us,” and cause us to reach out more to Him in prayer? If we knew that He would answer even the smallest prayers, would we reach out to Him and ask?
SIGNS FOR TIMES AND SEASONS
Why does God give us signs? I think Genesis 1:14 explains it all. And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,and for days and years.” He gives us “times and seasons,” so that we can sort through what is to come. So that we can prepare for times of feasting and times of famine—to always walk in peace knowing He is always with us. When we take a study of the Old Testament in context, we find that the Children of Israel lived their lives around these “times and seasons.” Certain points in the year marked when the winter season was to begin, and other points marked a time for summer to plant crops. The people’s survival depending on their ability to “know” the “times and seasons.” Their very food supply depended on it in their agricultural society. And when there were things “unseen,” He was there to prepare them. Our very “spiritual” oil—even our “filled lamp” depends on knowing these ‘seasons.’
THE SIGN OF THE VIRGIN
The greek word for virgin is “parthenos”—sound familiar? This word is used in not only the story of Mary, but also in Matthew Chapter 25, referring to “The Parable of the Ten Virgins” which serves as a visual for last day fulfillment’s, as well as several other passages in Acts, Corinthians, and even Revelations Chapter 14. The word parthenos describes not only physical virgins, but spiritual virgins. These references provide us with “shadows” of prophecy for the last days. As we come to know more about the way God “reveals” His wisdom, we can gain deeper insight into future “fulfillments” and be prepared for the ‘times and seasons.”
VIRGIN BIRTHS IN HUMANS
Is it possible for parthenogenesis to occur in humans? While there are no “documented” cases of this occurring in humans in the field of science, there is an interesting case of partial-parthenogenesis that occurred in a young boy, where his DNA tests were identifying him as “female” because of a partial-parthenogenesis that occurred in his mother’s womb. You can read about this case HERE. It’s fascinating, and gives further insight into God’s ability to reveal both “temporal” and “spiritual” truths. Furthermore, as we know, science is the process of proving something that is already true. We don’t know what we didn’t know until we discover it.
SO WHAT’S THE POINT?
We know that the ancients probably knew and understood that snakes kept in captivity would eventually “spawn” seed in their virginity, (as snakes were kept in captivity for centuries in various ancient cultures, specifically Ancient Egypt). In Ancient Egypt, the symbol of the the “raised serpent” on the crown of the Pharaoh was more than just a symbol. The symbol of a raised serpent “tried by fire,” parallels the same passages of scripture referring to the serpent on Moses’ staff that if the children of Israel would look to it, they would live (Numbers 21) (Don’t forget, Moses came out of Egypt, and would have understood these symbols).
A “raised” serpent, as a symbol, referenced great power. Moses and Pharaohs “wore” these symbols, but these symbols were merely reflections of their authority. How did the ancients obtain this authority, or knowlege–why did they wear these symbols? What did they do with this knowledge when they obtained it? Did the ancients ever use knowledge they obtained to abuse power? We know that the ancients probably realized that snakes produced seed in their virginity, but did the ancients realize that it was not because of their captivity, but in spite of it? And if they had this knowledge, when did they have it, and did they apply the correct or incorrect understanding to it depending on what they knew and when they knew it? What did Mary know? What does her virginity symbolize? What caused Mary to bear seed?
THE HANDMAIDEN OF THE LORD
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to John the Baptist’s father in the the Temple and tells him he will have a son, Zechariah’s “doubts,” and is struck dumb. However, when that same angel appears to Mary in her virginity and tells her that she will have a son, she not only believes, but “ponders” these things in her heart, and refers to herself as, “the handmaiden of the Lord.” The term handmaiden comes from the greek word doulas, which means slave. She submits herself to the “bondage” of the Lord, and bears a seed that would save and redeem the family of God. Why did the family of God need to be redeemed? Look no further than the New Testament encounters Jesus Christ has with the ruling religious class of the pharisees and scribes–the people needed a savior!
REDEEMING THE FAMILY OF GOD
At the time Jesus comes to redeem the family of God, the jewish nation is in great turmoil. I find it fascinating to study the new testament and discover Jesus’s references to the scribes and pharisees who “devour widows houses.” At the time Mary conceives, women were not spiritually or physically protected–rather the religious rituals and rites of the time robbed them of their rites and privileges as wives and mothers. They were “put away”, and had lost their spiritual and physical right to husband’s and sons that they could call on for spiritual and temporal protection. Why did Mary conceive? Why did Zechariah’s wife conceive? Why is Zechariah struck dumb? And why is Mary declared, “the handmaiden of the Lord?” Was it because of Mary’s physical bloodline or spiritual bloodline? I say both. Was it because of her ritual and spiritual purity? I also say both. Mary descended from a royal priesthood–on both sides of the veil!
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