Each week on Thursdays we highlight a trustworthy discipleship resource that can help you in your mission to make disciples. This week’s post is from The Full Picture of Christmas, a six-session study in the Winter 2019 Bible Studies for Life. Fill out the form at the end of this post by Friday, October 5th at 11:59pm to enter for a chance to win 10 free copies of the Winter 2019 Daily Discipleship Guide!
Read Isaiah 7:10-14.
If God came to one of us and said we could “ask for a sign”—any sign, even a sign “as deep as Sheol or as high as heaven,” I wonder what most of us would ask for. The Lord gave King Ahaz that opportunity, but he put forth a false humility and wouldn’t ask for a sign. Here was a king whose country was under attack and his people were terrified (7:1-2). God offered to give Ahaz a sign that He was powerful to take care of their enemies, but it Ahaz already may have been planning to ask Assyria for help and therefore didn’t think he needed God’s help.
Upon hearing King Ahaz’s refusal to ask for a sign, Isaiah the prophet broadened his audience beyond the king. He told the whole faithless house of David that God would give a sign anyway! The house of David’s wickedness had tested God’s longsuffering patience, but God had a sign for them: “See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.”
Take yourself back to grammar class for a moment. You probably remember the basic definition of a verb, noun, and adjective. But do you recall what a homonym is? It’s each of two or more words that have the same spelling and pronunciation, but different meanings and origins. For example, the word crane can be a bird, a piece of equipment, or a way to move your neck.
In a similar way, prophetic passages in Scripture can have multiple meanings: an immediate meaning for the initial hearers and an added meaning for future generations. Isaiah 7:14 has just such a double meaning.
Initially the prophecy was a word of comfort and hope to the original recipients of the prophecy. It is not clear who the woman and child were, but perhaps it was a child born in the king’s house. The birth of this child was a reminder of God’s prophecy and the comfort that “God is with us.”
The second meaning involves a prediction of the future virgin birth of Christ. Matthew quoted this prophecy word for word as he gave an account of Christ’s birth. “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us’” (Matt. 1:23).
Historically, this phrase was intended to convince King Ahaz that God could rescue him from his enemies. Our sovereign God spoke something to encourage ancient Israel and inspire generations to come with the hope of the Messiah. Therefore, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy was in Jesus Christ who is “God with us.”
What captures our attention in this passage is that “the virgin will conceive.” The virgin birth of Christ is an important truth; Jesus had to be one of us—human—to die in our place, but He couldn’t offer the perfect sacrifice if He was like every other human with a sin nature. The virgin birth means Jesus had no human father—God is His Father—therefore, Jesus was born without a sin nature. Jesus is fully man and He is fully God. God is with us!
What does God being Immanuel (“God with us”) mean for us as believers?
What does this truth mean for Christ-followers?
This article is an excerpt from The Full Picture of Christmas, a six-session study in the Winter 2019 Bible Studies for Life. Learn more about this study here.