Jesus Christ, The Fulfillment of God With Us
“Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’ ” Matthew 1:22-23 (NAS)
Two weeks ago we delved into the Apostle Peter’s quote of Isaiah 8:12 and in that study of the context of Isaiah’s utterance and the associated historical background, we brushed briefly upon the prophecy of Immanuel, the promised son to be born. In light of the reason the season is now being celebrated by many in the world, the birth of the promised Child of a virgin, it seems logical to consider this Old Testament quote by the apostle Matthew as found in His gospel account and “flesh” this subject out more completely.
The passage that Matthew references in Isaiah reads, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
As we had mentioned previously, this prophecy of the son born of a virgin was given King Ahaz as proof that he needn’t fear the impending invasion of the combined armies of Ephraim (Israel) led by Pekah, and Aram (Syria) led by Rezin. The LORD was going to take them out within a relatively short time, or as Isaiah spoke, “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” (Isa. 7:16)
True to His word, as always, the two kings who Ahaz presently despised and feared, would be gone within a about-2-3 years from the time of Isaiah’s prophetic statements. The Scripture states that Ahaz took the throne in Judah in the 17th year of the reign of Pekah in Israel. Shortly after taking the throne, the Syro-Ephraimitic invasion takes place but was unsuccessful in accomplishing the purpose of deposing Ahaz. It’s recorded that King Rezin of Aram is put to death by the king of Assyria, probably within about a year (C. f. 2 Kings 16:9) after Isaiah’s prophecy and Pekah’s reign ended after twenty years (2 King 15:27), when he was assassinated by Hoshea (2 King 15:30).
There is controversy surrounding this prophecy of a child being born of a virgin, since the statement is directed to King Ahaz. Many say it cannot be about Jesus Christ since He wouldn’t be born for approximately 700 years into the future. Many would contend that due to the language of the prophecy, it had to be about the birth of either a child to Ahaz, or about the child that is spoken of as being born to Isaiah in chapter eight, verses 1-4, because of the immediacy of the projected fulfillment of this prophecy and the similarities. Suffice it to say there are many arguments concerning this.
But why not use the principle that the Lord Himself has revealed to us concerning His use of types and foreshadows? Could not a child born to the prophetess of Isaiah in chapter eight be a useful type of what was to eventually come through the true fulfillment in the birth of Christ? Sure it could. Some say that’s not possible because Isaiah already had a son named Shearjashub. No way she could be an “almah”, a virgin woman of marriageable age, which is what this Hebrew word means. Well, who’s to say that the prophetess of Isaiah 8 isn’t to be his second wife, an almah, as yet a virgin, and that the mother of Shearjashub had died? That’s the only inference that makes sense. Another objection: The child wasn’t named Immanuel, but rather Maher-shalal-hash-baz. So? Hebrew children often were called by other names. Couldn’t it be a figurative appellation? These would offer proof to Ahaz and that generation that all the things God had spoken through Isaiah including the coming judgment and destruction of Israel (Isa. 7:8-9) and the chastening of Judah at the hands of Assyrians would be executed. Proof God was with them in his fulfillment of Isaiah’s words.
If we follow chapter eight into the context of Isaiah chapter nine, we find the prophecy of the child to be born to us, and a son to be given us, a Messianic prophecy (Isa. 9:1-7). His names are several. He will be “Mighty God”, “Eternal Father”, “Prince of Peace”. These three communicate divine royalty.
Matthew insures we understand that Mary, the “almah”, is a virgin. The conception takes places by means of the Holy Spirit, part of the Godhead, meaning Jesus is born of divine origin. This makes the Child’s father God. Jesus’ earthly origins are traced to the princely tribe of Judah, the rulers. The child Mary will name Jesus, is God with us in the flesh, therefore Immanuel.
Back briefly to King Ahaz. What was his concern with the alliance of Israel and Syria? Wasn’t it the loss of his seat upon the throne, being deposed and the possible destruction of the kingdom of Judah (the tribe promised the scepter to rule)? Yes. What was the Devil’s goal once Jesus was born? Wasn’t it to attack and kill Him, preventing Him from taking the throne in heaven, destroying the eternal spiritual nation that was to be multiplied with the inclusion of the Gentiles (Isa. 9:3)? Yes indeed. What sign did the Father give us that His eternal kingdom would be safe and that this king of evil in the spiritual realm, one who is dreaded would be forsaken? The birth of Jesus the Christ, Immanuel, for the purpose of his sacrificial death, resurrection from the dead and ascension to the throne in heaven. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and those of Isaiah 9:6-7 now perfectly fulfilled as the substance of God’s true prophetic intentions. Behold, a child was born in the flesh so the Son could be given in our place. Praise God!