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What is the Bible saying about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ?
Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?” King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”
The virgin birth doctrine was and still is under heavy attacks from the atheists and liberal theologians. It is one of their favourite topics to mock Jesus and the Christians. They question this fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith from any and every angle.
But the virgin birth of Jesus highlights the supernatural. In the words of John Piper
On one end of Jesus’ life lies his supernatural conception and birth; on the other, his supernatural resurrection and his ascension to God’s right hand. Jesus’ authenticity was attested to by the supernatural working of his Father.
Moreover, it shows the fully human and fully divine nature of Jesus!
The virgin birth of Jesus in the Bible
Isaiah 7:14 (TLV)
Therefore Adonai Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin [‘almah] will conceive [‘is with child’ or ‘will be with child’]. When she is giving birth to a son, she will call his name Immanuel.
But this verse is quoted only once in the entire New Testament, by Matthew, in chapter 1 verse 23.
Matthew 1:23 (TLV)
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”
Let us look a little closer to the above scriptures.
The virgin birth of Jesus and Isaiah 7:14— the context
Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the tribe of Judah went through a great crisis. They were being attacked by their brothers in the north, the Israelites, together with the Arameans. Moreover, these armies were heading towards Jerusalem to take the city, remove the king (in Judah the king was always a descendant of David), and put their own man on the throne.
Most importantly to understand, this was an attack on God’s established dynasty through which the promised Messiah would come.
However, Ahaz, the current king of Judah was a faithless man who relied more on foreign help than on God. Therefore, the Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to speak to him urging him to put his trust in YHWH (God) and assuring him that Judah’s enemies would be defeated (Isaiah 7:7-9).
What the prophecy meant for the original hearers
In spite of Isaiah 8:8 and 8:10, the context does not make the matter clear. In the light of the text, the birth of the child has something to do with the future of the house of David— because the Lord says He will give a sign to the unbelieving house of David.
As Michel L. Brown says:
From our current vantage point, it is impossible to determine exactly what the prophecy meant to the original hearers when it was delivered, other than that it was a promise of a supernatural sign, a birth of great importance to the house of David, a token of divine intervention and deliverance, and a rebuke to unbelief and apostasy.
Isaiah 7:14 points to the virgin birth of Jesus
Isaiah 7:14 was God’s answer to the attack on the Davidic dynasty and was meant to demonstrate His power. Matthew saw the same thing as he looked back at Isaiah 7:14— he did see the birth of Immanuel as extremely significant in the context of Isaiah 7-8, and he saw the two Messianic prophecies in Isaiah 9 and 11. Moreover, Matthew saw that Jesus/Yeshua’s birth was a supernatural sign and that Yeshua was Immanuel— the fulfillment of the sign prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 (and many other prophecies)!
A linguistic objection against the virgin birth of Jesus
The main objection is against Matthew’s translation of the word ‘almah with ‘virgin’. I am sure that you are aware of the countless debates over this topic. However, the word ‘almah can refer to a virgin but it does not always mean virgin. Its basic meaning is primarily related to adolescence— young woman. Most importantly, in Biblical Hebrew language, there is no single word that always and only means ‘virgin’. Indeed, not even the word
And the Septuagint translates the Hebrew word ‘almah with
In other words, it is possible that the Septuagint indicated an expectation that the birth spoken in Isaiah 7:14 would be virginal and thus supernatural. So, no need for anyone to attack the Scriptures when the text allows you to give the above translations.
The virgin birth of Jesus— a hidden gem
Therefore, the deepest meaning of the prophecy became apparent as the fullness of time arrived and Matthew pointed to any person who wants to see that Jesus/Yeshua fulfilled the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy. Matthew 1:18 (ESV)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
That was God’s plan from the beginning. It took seven hundred years for us to clearly see the fulfilment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, in the Gospel of Matthew.
Now what? So what?
Mark Driscoll says
If the virgin birth of Jesus is untrue, then the story of Jesus changes greatly; we would have a sexually promiscuous young woman lying about God’s miraculous hand in the birth of her son, raising that son to declare he was God, and then joining his religion. But if Mary is nothing more than a sinful con artist then neither she nor her son Jesus should be trusted. Because both the clear teachings of Scripture about the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life and the character of his mother are at stake, we must contend for the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
My aim is to help you strengthen your faith in the Word of God. And keep the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus at the foundation of Christmas.
The story of the birth of Jesus is amazing and beautiful. And we can learn so much from it. Also, read my last year’s post about Christmas and let me know what you think of it too.
Do you agree?
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