The Sign in the Depth and in the Height

Isaiah 7

Who is it to whom the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi so constantly points, raising in our hearts the very highest expectations, as it speaks of “the Woman’s Seed,” “Abraham’s Seed,” and “David’s Seed”? Who is this through whom all the world is to be blessed? What is His name? Has He come? Is He living?

The first chapter of the New Testament answers these questions. There we are introduced to the only One who could be truly called “the woman’s Seed”—the promised Son of the Virgin (vv. 21-23). The first verse of the New Testament shows Him to us—“JESUS CHRIST, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” The glorious Fulfiller of the promises has come! The “Yea” and “Amen” of them all! Yes, He lives! for though He was slain, He could not be holden of death, He rose from the dead and is alive for evermore!

“The woman’s Seed,” but—meditate on the divine wonder here—He is also “Emmanuel”—“God with us.” He is “Abraham’s Seed,” but, stupendous fact! He could also say, “Before Abraham was I AM”“(John 8:38). He is “David’s Seed,” but He is also “David’s Lord” (Matt. 22:41-46). Yea, “Jesus Christ of the seed of David raised from among the dead,” says, “I am the ROOT,” before David, as well as “the Offspring” after David. He is THE FIRST, as well as THE LAST.

We will join Isaiah “at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the Fuller’s field” (chap. 7:3). Ahaz the king of Judah comes there also, and is told to ask “A SIGN” of the Lord, and what is most striking is that he is requested to ask it “either IN THE DEPTH, or IN THE HEIGHT above” (v. 11). The monarch, however, for some ulterior reason, will not do so. Close dealings with God were not congenial to him. Consequently, a marvellous disclosure is made in verse 14. Ahaz, of “the house of David,” would not ask for the sign “either in the depth, or in the height.” God therefore says, as it were, I will give the sign Myself without your asking! I will give it both in the depth and in the height; and, as we see from other Scriptures, in that very “house of David.” Mark then, the wonderful words: “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name IMMANUEL.”

What a vast store of divine wealth is laid open to us here. The Virgin’s Son becomes THE SIGN, given of God in “the depth” and in “the height” also. Who but the blessed God, who is infinite in wisdom, could have thought of or given such a sign? Behold in “the depth” of human weakness that wondrous Babe nursed on the Virgin’s lap; but even there His name tells us of “the height” of His glory—“IMMANUEL,” “GOD with us.” He is truly the Sign in “the depth” and “the height.” The Sign in the depth and height is that which the Holy Spirit of God introduces at the very opening of the New Testament. Here in “the house of David” appears the promised Sign!

What a commotion immediately takes place! In the seen and unseen; among the learned and the unlearned; among the great and the small; among the wicked and the pious. Why?

 “Unto us a Child is born!”
    The Sign in the depth behold!
  The break of the glorious morn
    By prophets long foretold.
  See the virgin mother lair
    In yon stable, lowly, meek;
  And in the manger cradled there
    The Babe whom the shepherds seek.

  Creation moves at the sight!
    Angels cry “Glory to God!”
  The star in the heavens shines bright,
    To guide wise men on the road;
  The faithful behold and sing;
    The pious worship the Lord;
  They talk of the new-born King;
    Come forth to fulfil God’s word.

Could the New Testament have an opening more striking and glorious? The wisdom which knows not God may see no glory here, but such wisdom is the folly which led the princes of this age to crucify the Lord of Glory.

The angel of the Lord said, “Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a SIGN unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

Again, Simeon, a just and devout man, came by the Spirit into the temple and said to Mary, the virgin mother, “Behold this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a SIGN which shall be spoken against … that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:24-35). Surely this Sign in “the depth” of sorrow and woe, and yet in “the height” of the glory of “THE CHRIST THE LORD,” is worthy of God who is “the ALL WISE.” “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; but the glory of kings is to search out a thing. The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable” (Prov. 25:2-3). Search the Scriptures! “These are they which testify of ME,” said the Son of God! Finding Him we shall fill our treasures with the finest gold and enrich our store with all manner of precious things.