God's Remarkable Signs

by Joseph Hunting

In some nations early events in their history can give cause to a claim to fame by the descendants whose forebears either shared in the arrival of the Mayflower, or in the landing of William the Conqueror, or in the arrival at Sydney Cove of the First Fleet in 1788.

But in spite of these claims to notoriety by the descendants of Japheth, there are Jewish claims that far outweigh any of the above events in both antiquity and in magnitude. As we trace the ancestry of the Hebrew people from the Bible we read that Abraham married Sarah and that she was barren.

Had there not been Divine intervention to enable Sarah to bear a child, Abraham's seed would have passed on solely through Ishmael. There would have been no Israel, no Bible, no Redeemer!

"Through Faith also Sarah ..."

God did intervene, but not until Sarah was ninety years old and well past child bearing. "Then God said to Abraham, 'As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.'

" Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?' And Abraham said to God, 'O that Ishmael might live before you!'

"Then God said: 'No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac: I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year'" (Genesis 17:15-21).

At the time appointed God performed a biological miracle in Sarah's body and the child of promise was born in whom were the promises of God to Abraham confirmed.

A Bride for Isaac

The choosing of a bride for Isaac reads like a Divinely-ordained love story. Abraham instructed his servant to return to his people for a bride for Isaac: "The LORD God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my kindred, and who spoke to me, saying, 'To your descendants I give this land,' he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there" (Genesis 24:7).

So the servant asked the Lord to guide him to the bride of His choice, which He did, straight to the grand daughter of Abraham's brother Nahor. The girl was called Rebekah, and she was willing to return with the servant to be Isaac's wife.

How strange that this girl, Divinely chosen to be Isaac's wife should also be barren! Yet God's promise to raise up a mighty nation had been repeated to Isaac! So we are forced to the conclusion that God deliberately organized a situation that once again required a miracle in the body of Rebekah for her to bear children.

"Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived" (Genesis 25:21).

Rachel Barren Also

Yet once more, for the third time, was this drama repeated. Jacob, the Divinely-chosen son of Rebekah so loved Rachel that he worked fourteen years to win her. And again, the third in succession of Israel's great matriarchs was also barren, as also probably was Leah.

"When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren ... Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. And she conceived and bore a son ..." (Genesis 29:31;30:22,23).What significance lies behind the multiplication of biological miracles necessary to bring the nation of Israel into being? Was there some special function this nation would perform that required such special preparation? The Bible supplies the answer:

"For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon him? And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgements as are in all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:7,8).

"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your fathers …" (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).

Sign to the House of David

If God should choose to perform a series of miracles in order to fulfil His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, should it be thought incredible that He should choose to give to the house of David a miraculous sign?

The Lord spoke to Ahaz king of Judah : " 'Ask for a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.' But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!' Then he said, 'Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin (Heb. Ha almah, the chaste young woman, the virgin) shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel'" (Isaiah 7:10-14).

In the course of time God fulfilled this promise also to the house of David. The Child of promise was born in exactly the manner prophesied by Isaiah.

Surely the miracles wrought in Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel pointed forward to the far greater event which fulfilled the first part of Isaiah's great prophecy: " For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6).