A sign points to a specific destination and is of value only relative to the destination. For example, a road sign foretells and points the way, but we never travel simply to get to the next sign. In this instance the Lord's sign points the way to the full realization of His eternal Purpose in Christ Jesus!
We are not suggesting that Jesus was sent merely as a sign. He is the redeemer, the Savior of the world! It is still true that the details of His birth and the name Immanuel give us prophetic signs that foretell end-time events. Just as He fulfilled all scripture in His first coming, his Body is destined to also fulfill prophecies and sometimes those prophecies that seem to apply only to Him are also being fulfilled in His body, the ekklesia. With this in mind let us carefully consider the Lord's sign, as prophesied by Isaiah in the passage quoted above.
Consider the words the virgin. In 2 Kings 19:21 we read about "The virgin the daughter of Zion." The prophet Jeremiah also prophesied about this same woman, "For I heard a cry as of a woman in travail, anguish as of one bringing forth her first child, the cry of the daughter of Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands, 'Woe is me! I am fainting before murderers.'" (Jeremiah 4:31)
Also Isaiah prophesied of Zion,
Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1 RSV)
Reading further, we find a reference to God as Husband in verse 5, and to Israel/Zion as wife in verse 6. Zion was the virgin betrothed to God.
And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. (Hosea 2:19-20 RSV)
This is the very language that Paul used to explain this mystery as related to the Church and Christ. As Israel was God's betrothed, so the Church is the bride of Christ.
The Hebrew word translated virgin in the above passage would more correctly be translated bride, one who is about to become a wife, one who is betrothed. This was exactly the case with Mary, the handmaiden of the Lord. She was a virgin, the betrothed of Joseph. Mary divinely conceived and bore a Son who was the fullness of God on earth, Immanuel--God with us. This sign also points to a future spiritual fulfillment. Another bride will birth a man-child, who will live to the full everything that is implied by the name Immanuel.
In Revelation chapter twelve God reaffirms the sign.
And a great sign was seen in the heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and being with child she cried, being in travail, and in pain to bring forth. And another sign was seen in the heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems; and his tail draws the third part of the stars of the heaven; and he cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bring forth, in order that when she brought forth he might devour her child. And she brought forth a male son, who shall shepherd all the nations with an iron rod; and her child was caught up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:1-5 Darby)
We read of two signs in this passage. The first sign is the sign of Isaiah seven fourteen, spoken of here in its future fulfillment. Earlier John heard a voice like a trumpet saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this" (Revelation 4:1 WEB).
We know then that the signs of Revelation affirm the sign of Isaiah and prophetically point toward future events. The details of this sign seen by John correspond so thoroughly to the birth and life of Christ that many theologians believe the sign must refer to Christ's physical birth. But these signs are a reference to things that must happen after this, after the time when John wrote about them. The woman and the man-child are a clear reference to the end time bride of Christ and the birth and maturity of the end-time Body of Christ.
We will here make a statement that at first may be misunderstood. Please bear with us! Just as Jesus was Immanuel, God with us, so is the Body of Christ. Paul wrote of a mystery regarding the Body, "For even as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12 Darby). We have used the Darby version because, in this instance, it is the closest to the original Greek. Notice the words, "so also is the Christ." The Christ that Paul was speaking of here was the whole Christ, Head plus Body. Christ is the Head. We are His Body. Together we make up the Christ. The definite article the, which is left out of most other translations, is significant. A thing is much different than the thing. The word the implies the genuine article, the real, exclusive and only one of its kind. Just as Christ in His physical body was Immanuel, the very temple or dwelling place of God, so the Body of Christ (Head plus Body) is the continuum of this mystery, the temple where God tabernacles on the earth. Immanuel--God with us!
We know that the Body Of Christ is also referred to as God's temple. Haggai prophesied, "'I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the Lord of Hosts. . . .'The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the Lord of Hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the Lord of Hosts" (Haggai 2:7 to 9, NKJV).
There will be a latter day manifestation of the Body that will far exceed anything that has occurred upon the earth before. This latter-day Body will show forth the fullness of the stature of Christ as one new man, having reached maturity. They will reign and rule with Christ. They will be caught up to God and to his throne.
And He has put all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22-23 MKJV)
And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ... (Ephesians 4:13 MKJV)
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell... (Colossians 1:19)
For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Colossians 2:9)
These scriptures show God's intention to fill all things with His Son by means of the Body of Christ. Satan knows this, and like any adversary he has set himself to oppose the advancement of the Kingdom.
There will be an end-time rebirthing of the Body of Christ. The primary target of Satan, the red dragon, is the Body of Christ, the expression of Christ in the earth. In creating the counterfeit body, his objective was to fully displace and scatter the true Body of Christ. There have been true believers down through the years, but the corporate expression where Christ is seen in His fullness was displaced early on.
There were individuals who shone with Christ's glory, as there still are, but one member does not make a body. Throughout history, whenever a corporate expression of Christ began to emerge, before long the red dragon came to devour it. He will tolerate every form of religion, but he cannot abide the thought of the many-membered body coming to its fullness and fully expressing the glory of God's Son. This fullness cannot be expressed through single members, however brightly they might shine, for they only possess a measure of the gift of Christ. The focus of all Satan's energies in the first century was to devour this corporate Body, and this effort continues today. Just as Herod tried to kill the infant Jesus, so the dragon wants to devour the man-child in His inception, before He should reach the fullness of the stature of Christ. Satan's proven and most effective means of offsetting the body of Christ is his substitute, religion.
Just as Jesus is Immanuel--God with us, in that God is resident in Him, so the Body of Christ in whom Christ now dwells, and will be fully manifest, is Immanuel on the earth. This is the mystery of the Body of Christ the fullness of Him who fills all things. This God with us existence in man is the glory of God. Paul taught extensively about this coming glory being restored to those who dwell in Christ.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8:29,30, NASB).
We who are the members of His body were predestined to be there. We were predestined to be made perfectly into His image as parts of His spiritual body. God has set a process in motion from the foundation of the world, a process in which we are predestined, called, justified, and finally glorified. If Christ is to be fully glorified, the body in which He lives must also be fully glorified.
So just how are we, his body, to be glorified? Paul continues in the next chapter of Romans.
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:22-24, NASB).
We existed before hand as spiritual members in His heavenly body and knew a certain level of His glory, but we are also being prepared for a greater glory, glory in its fullness. Just as Christ had to come to this earth and learn obedience through the things which he suffered, so we, too, are being perfected during our earthly sojourn for a greater glory. Christ was glorified in heaven before He came, and the Father had greater glory awaiting Him through His act of obedience. Consider this exchange with His Father over His impending crucifixion.
"Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Thy name." There came therefore a voice out of heaven: "I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again." (John 12:27,28, NASB).
To glorify the Father through His perfect obedience was also to glorify the Son. The same is true of His saints, the members of His body. To lay down our lives in obedience to Him is to glorify Christ. To glorify Christ by our obedience even unto death is to share in the Glory of the crucified Son. So many who call themselves Christians today want the power and the glory, without taking up the path of the cross which brings its fullness into our lives. We should consider Paul's prayer in his letter to the Philippians and make it your own.
. . .that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Philippians 3:10, NASB).
Even those who strive for an earthly prize know, "No pain, no gain." The city of God, the New Jerusalem, Mount Zion, will yet be adorned with His glory at His coming.
(Paul and Barnabas) strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22, NASB)
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2, NASB).
Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah. (Psalms 87:3, NASB).
God knew beforehand that we could not be made perfect without a time of testing. We are here on this earth among vessels of wrath to learn the patience of God as we suffer at their hands. We share the sufferings of Jesus who is our Head.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (Romans 8:16-19, NASB).
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica,
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14, NASB).
Paul speaks here of being chosen "from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth." This is the path we take to reach the glory of Christ. First God chooses us while we were yet sinners to be His sons and daughters. He makes us holy by enfolding us in Christ and giving us the gift of the Spirit of His righteousness. He gives us the faith of the indwelling Christ to believe in Him. Finally, He places His life-changing truth within us, conforming us into the very image of His Son. This is the process of His grace at work in us so that we can attain the glory of His Son as His joint heirs in the Beloved. It is this glorious bride who is without spot or blemish for which the Bridegroom comes, not a bride who has not been proven and tested.to top