Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
A fishing analogy can help us better understand this prophecy.
One time-honored ritual for fishermen and women is cleaning out tackle boxes in the early winter. While cleaning out the tackle boxes a list is made of fishing tackle to replace. Not long after the list is made, fishers go shopping for new tackle.
The new fishing tackle is the key for this analogy. It’s amazing how many bright and shiny new lures end up luring fishermen into purchases. Yet when the next winter arrives, some of those lures sit unused in the tackle box. Why is this?
It’s because the fishermen bought the lures based on the appearance of the lure, not on what they wanted to accomplish with the lure: catch fish. The craftsmanship of a lure doesn’t matter if it doesn’t actually attract fish where the fisherman casts his line.
This prophesy from Isaiah is best known for the virgin who will be with child. Because this is an astounding miracle, the virgin birth is the bright and shiny lure the passage. The virgin grabs our attention. We marvel at this miracle.
But the prophesy isn’t really about the virgin Mary. Instead, the prophesy about Mary is a sign that points to the Messiah. The prophesy is really about the child who will be named “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.” This is a most fitting title for Jesus, due to His divine nature. God did miraculously come to dwell among us.
Given enough time, many fishermen learn to keep the purpose of lures in mind when restocking tackle boxes. Like these fishermen we also learn to keep our focus on the Messiah. In fact, that is the whole point of Advent.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)