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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jesus Predicted in the Old Testament

The Virgin Shall Conceive

Isaiah was instructed to say the following to King Ahaz -- "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, NKJV]. There are a few things to note. First, some biblical translations (such as the NKJV, which is here quoted) have done some interpretation as well as translation of this particular passage. The words "Son" and "His," by way of example, are capitalized, signifying the belief that this child is the Messiah. Although that is probably a correct assumption, at least on one level of fulfillment, it is nevertheless still a matter of interpretation, and such personal assumptions, even though they may be correct, should not be imposed upon a biblical text by those entrusted with the task of translation. Second, it should be noted that the NKJV has correctly rendered the text to read "the virgin." The definite article (which is present in the original -- Hebrew: ha almah) has been totally ignored by some translations and versions (thus rendering the passage: "a virgin"). Isaiah clearly had a specific person in mind.

There has been great difficulty over the years in seeking to interpret the significance of this prophecy. "Few prophecies have been the subject of so much controversy, or called forth such a variety of exegesis, as this prophecy of Immanuel" [Pulpit Commentary, vol. 10, p. 129]. "This one verse has received more discussion than any other passage in the OT, yet without any consensus emerging among commentators. While Christians agree that it refers ultimately to the birth of Christ, they remain divided about its original and primary meaning" [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 990]

It should be noted that this child was to be called "Immanuel." This is a word meaning "God with us." An angel told Joseph, with regard to the pregnancy of Mary, his betrothed, "That which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son; and you shall call his name Jesus" [Matt. 1:20-21]. "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'" [Matt. 1:22-23]. Thus, we clearly have a Messianic fulfillment to the passage, as declared in the gospel account of Matthew.

Isaiah 7:14, "like many other prophecies, had a double (both a typical and a true) fulfillment. The first was in the reign of Ahaz, a sign concerning a temporal deliverance, but the higher reference is to the spiritual Deliverer of the world"

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