Subject: Evidence #4 for Christmas: Isaiah 7:14 = Jesus Christ, our Virgin-Born Savior of Children
Christmas as a national holiday is centered around the Person, Jesus Christ. In preparing for Christmas, we spent the last three weeks investigating specific Old Testament prophecies that gave solid evidence for our faith in Jesus Christ Himself as coming in the flesh (we looked at Daniel 9:25-26, “The Coming Prince”, on Dec. 1st, then Joshua 1:9, “Immanuel”, on Dec. 8th, then Daniel 7:13, “The Son of Man”, on Dec. 15th).
This week, we’ll focus on the incredible Virgin Birth prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Next week we’ll connect Isaiah 7:14 to two other sections of Isaiah, that when taken as a whole give us a clear picture of Jesus Christ not only as the Baby born in the manger, but also our supernatural Redeemer who is always with us and our King in heaven who is now holding those precious 20 Newtown, CT children in His arms.
How can we make such statements? What gives us any right to say that there is a real God who not only has these children safely in His arms but also is there in CT as our Great Counselor? By the EVIDENCE that was put on display for our entire nation to witness. Two days after the tragedy in Newtown, CT, a televised interfaith church service was held in Newtown High School’s auditorium. Many different leaders of various religious faiths spoke with deep humility and respect for the families who lost their children, all offering their versions of how their God has these precious little children safe with Him in heaven. There was a Catholic priest, a Muslim leader, a leader from the Bahai faith, a Lutheran pastor, and many more. Each religious leader claimed God knows their pain, loves these little children, and is active to bring healing in time to their community. The theme of this service seemed to be that it is God’s gift of personal faith that sustains each person through such unspeakably tragic events.
President Obama closed the service with a beautiful memorial to each of the children by reading their names and using Scripture to console the families and the community, again appealing to our faith that makes us strong and able to, in time, weather such tragedies and mend our broken hearts.
Are we to view this very public, very American, way of expressing our hopelessness and despair as a meaningless formality? Is the appeal to a transcendent, all-powerful, knowing and loving God mythological? Unless all these people in Newtown (including our President) are lying, the answer is no.
But, of course, there is another worldview that was not part of the service in Newtown. We are now receiving the published responses to the nonreligious segment in our culture, one such article published by Sam Harris (recognized leader in the secular humanist movement in America) asking the question, “If God exists, and he is all-knowing, and all-loving, and all-powerful, why didn’t he intervene and stop it?” The point being made by the secular humanist members in America is that this type of evil (and most everyone would agree this is evil), is evidence for why there is no God.
Why, when all the interfaith leaders participated in Newtown’s interfaith service, the secular humanists did not? If your immediate thought is ‘that’s because secular humanism is not a religion’, then please explain why Harvard University is now into its 35th year since it established secular humanism as the makeup of its corps of chaplains. Secular Humanism is more than a philosophy – it is a belief system (yes, faith based).
So why weren’t they part of Newtown’s’ service, to offer hope for these children? Because they cannot offer any hope since they do not believe there is a personal God who cares for us. Their belief system has nothing to say in times of such tragedy. They offer no evidence for a life after physical death. Their worldview is restricted to the material world we live in, period. In the word of Cornell Professor William Provine, “If Darwinism is true, then there are five inescapable conclusions: 1) there’s no evidence for God, 2) there’s no life after death, 3) there’s no absolute foundation for right and wrong, 4) there’s no ultimate meaning for life, 5) people don’t really have free will.” And how about Richard Dawkins explaining, in his book “Out of Eden”, that evil doesn’t really exist (if anyone bothers to check, this is the prevailing philosophy now taught to our kids in colleges and universities across America): “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.”
At this time in our history as a nation, the majority of us reject secular humanism as a belief system. Why? Because Christianity does offer EVIDENCE that gives hope to the faith we have in God, that very faith demonstrated in Newtown, CT. The faith we’ve been detailing, and will continue to detail, in this weekly article.
As Christians, the SOURCE of this faith is the Bible. This week, from the Bible, here is ISAIAH 7:14, written in 730 BC and then fulfilled in Jesus Christ in MATTHEW 1:21-23, explaining how God Himself came to be with us as the Christ child, a baby in a manger, to provide His answer for defeating the kind of evil we saw in Newtown, CT. He defeated it with His own death, and has saved those 6-7 year old children, and does hold them in His arms in heaven.
Isaiah 7:14 = His Birth Predicted “..Behold, a VIRGIN shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name IMMANUEL (‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:21-23 = His Birth Fulfilled “’..she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Isaiah), saying: ‘Behold, a VIRGIN shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name IMMANUEL, which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
Skeptics’ charge #1 = people added these verses to Isaiah after Jesus’ death, to make him out to be the promised Savior. The response to charge #1 = we’ve covered this in the Oct. 13th article. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date 125 years before Jesus was born, not only contain these verses in Isaiah but match our bible today almost exactly. So they were not added in later. These amazing prophecies were always there. So Matthew is using logic and pointing to the evidence, by saying “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Isaiah)”…
Skeptics’ charge #2 = the word for virgin is Isaiah 7:14 isn’t a woman who has never had sexual relations, so it doesn’t point to Christ. The response to charge #2 = No, it’s a real virgin. In Dr. Victor Buksbazen’s commentary on the Book of Isaiah, he makes it easy for any of us to understand: “ the Hebrew word used here in Isaiah 7:14 is ‘almah’, and it is first used in the Old Testament in connection with Rebekah, the future bride of Isaac, in Genesis 24: 43. But in Genesis 24:16, she is also called a ‘virgin’, and this time the Hebrew word is ‘bethulah’. Both ‘almah’ and ‘bethulah’ can be used in the Old Testament for a virgin, but ‘almah’ is never applied to a married woman, while ‘bethulah’ is sometimes, which means it can also mean a married woman who is no longer a virgin (see Joel 1:8 and Deuteronomy 22:19). There are only 7 uses for ‘almah’ in the Old Testament, and each time it’s a virgin:
Genesis 24:43 = applied to Rebekah, the future bride of Isaac
Exodus 2:8 = applied to Miriam, the sister of Moses
Psalm 68:25 = translated ‘damsels’ playing with timbrels (plural of ‘almah’, or ‘alamoth’)
Song of Solomon 1:3 and 6:8 = virgins of the royal court
Proverbs 30:19 = “the way of a man with a virgin”
Isaiah 7:14 = “Behold the virgin” = ‘ha-almah’”
Blaise Pascal, the famous Christian mathematician and philosopher, wanted people to see that God desired to make Himself known personally through the Person of Jesus Christ: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus…. the evidence of God’s existence and His gift is more than compelling, but those who insist that they have no need of Him will always find ways to discount the offer.”