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Immanuel

by David Johnson

IMG_0666(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and make personal application. The title for the lesson is simply, “Immanuel” and the text in the New Testament, the gospel of Matthew chapter one verses 22 and 23. Listen to the Word of God.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel, which means: God with us. Precious words, precious truths from the Word of God.

In Scripture there are many spectacular births. For example, Isaac, born by a previously barren woman when she was 90. And then there was Samuel’s mother that had also been barren and he, Samuel, became a priest, prophet and judge. And then John the Baptist, which it tells us in the Scripture, in Luke chapter one and verse 15 that he was filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. Amazing. But the most spectacular birth is, as according to Matthew chapter one and verse 23, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel, which means: God with us. The virgin will be with child is a spectacular, supernatural birth and this was prophesied about 600 to 700 years beforehand by the Hebrew prophet Isaiah in Isaiah chapter seven and verse 14 that says: Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.

Orthodox Jews today point out vehemently that the Hebrew word for virgin can mean maiden or just an unmarried woman. However the group of Jewish scholars that translated Isaiah chapter seven and verse 14 from the Hebrew language to the first century Greek language in the Septuagint, which means 70, which is, as believed, 72 Jewish scholars translated from the Hebrew to the Greek and this translation was for the Hellenistic or Grecian or Greek speaking Jews to be able to read the Old Testament. They translated using the Greek word that can only, exclusively and explicitly mean virgin. Seventy to 72 Hebrew scholars about 285 years before Christ sent from Jerusalem to Alexandria, Egypt to carefully and accurately translate the Hebrew language text. And the word that they used in the Greek can only mean virgin in the Septuagint. And this by Jewish scholars.

Furthermore, in the New Testament text the Jewish apostle Matthew inspired of the Holy Spirit to accurately write down the text quoted in his gospel Isaiah chapter seven and verse 14 and wrote in Greek and used the same exact word that can only mean virgin, as in the Septuagint can only mean virgin, not simply maiden or unmarried woman.

In Matthew chapter one and verse 23 he wrote: The virgin will be with child. Moreover, a most mysterious verse, according to the Hebrew language scholars, is found in Jeremiah chapter 31 and verse 22. Speaking here figuratively of the unfaithful people of Judah, which says: How long will you wander oh unfaithful daughter? The Lord will create a new thing on the earth, a woman will surround a man.

This verse in Hebrew according to Hebrew language scholars is puzzling. Even Jewish rabbi have interpreted this verse to mean Messiah would have a miraculous, supernatural origin. As one rabbi put it, quote: Like the dew of the Lord upon a woman, end of quote.

Now today, of course, no believers and liberals laugh at the possibility of a virgin birth. As believers in the inspired, inerrant Word of God, the Bible, all of it, we ultimately believe by fait, but also with reasonable, rational understanding of the text of Scripture and that virgin means virgin not simply maiden or unmarried woman.

Consider the inspired writing of a most qualified gospel writer, the evangelist Luke who may have been a Gentile. Others believe that probably he was Grecian or Greek Jew and also a doctor according to Colossians chapter four and verse 14 it says in part: Luke the doctor. And therefore this writer knew well, knew all about birth giving. After all, he was a doctor. And doctor Luke detailed this spectacular birth in Luke chapter one verses 27 through 34. And doctor Luke recorded the exact Greek word that can only mean virgin also three times, which resulted in the conception and incarnation of Jesus Christ. Also notice the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary, not in a dream, but while she was wide awake and able to question, to understand what the angel Gabriel had revealed to her. And Mary did not question in unbelief, but in wonder.
In Luke chapter one and verse 31 the angel Gabriel said to Mary: You will be with child and give birth to a son. Now notice Mary’s initial reaction to this revelation in Luke chapter one and verse 24. She said: How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin? And, of course, Mary knew that she was a maiden, that she was betrothed to Joseph. But that the consummation, the physical consummation of their marriage had not yet taken place. She physically was still a virgin. The angel responded and explained exactly what virgin meant here. In Luke chapter one and verse 35 it says: The angel answered: The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you, meaning here, obviously, not a natural, not a normal birth, but instead by the supernatural power of the most high God almighty, a most unusual, miraculous, unique, virgin birth. Obviously all of these details point to the word virgin being far beyond the simple meaning of maiden or an unmarried woman.

In fact, in Luke chapter one and verse 37 it underscores this meaning, for it says here: For nothing is impossible with God. Certainly, not even a virgin birth, because it was a virgin birth. And since she was betrothed, in the Jewish concept of betrothal, Mary and Joseph were considered married, already married, even though they had not consummated physically the marriage. She was still a virgin.

So at least four reasons stand out to believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, exactly and explicitly as revealed, described in detail in Scripture.

Number one: it was prophesied. It was predicted. It was written in Scripture in Isaiah chapter seven and verse 14. And, therefore, it had to come to pass, because God never lies. God cannot lie, nor will God ever deceive us. If he would, he wouldn’t be God, but he is God and his Word is truth and it cannot be broken.

Number two: Luke, whether he was a Gentile or a Grecian Jew, would have been very familiar with this prophecy in Isaiah and he recorded it in his gospel with the words that is in the Greek language meaning only virgin. Luke used the exact word that had been translated in the Septuagint, which can only mean virgin. And so doctor Luke recorded accurately, knowing, as a doctor, as a physician about conception and birth and yet still recognized and revealed that this was, in fact, a virgin birth.

Number three: In Luke chapter one and verse 35 it says, in part: So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Jesus is the holy one, absolutely without sin from eternity past to eternity future, even from his incarnation, even from his conception in his humanity and, therefore, he was without the inherited sin nature of man, having bypassed the seed of man, in this case Joseph, because he was virgin birth. In fact, Jesus Christ is referred to in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and verse 45 as the last Adam, as with the first Adam who originally existed without sin, he was created without sin, but once he sinned he passed that sin nature to all of mankind. But Jesus Christ did not inherit this sin nature and this was possible because Jesus was virgin born in his humanity. Mary his mother was simply, basically, his incubator, physically, because his birth, his conception was of the Holy Spirit of God, was supernatural, was miraculous, he was virgin born.

Number four: Not only was Jesus’ physical birth spectacular, conceived by God yet fully human in every way except without the inherited sin nature, without sin, he was sinless, he never sinned, but this same Jesus is also divine, deity, God in the flesh, even the Son of God. His unique, one of a kind, spectacular title, Immanuel, which means God with us.

And so this title, this name denotes the same concept of God man. He is God with us. The personal union of humanity and divinity, he is fully God and fully man at the same time in the person of Jesus Christ. How can this be? Well, he is God. And this is even emphasized in the epistle, the letter to the Colossians in chapter two and verse nine. The apostle Paul wrote: For in Christ all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form. Notice all the fullness of deity. Jesus Christ is not partly man and partly God. Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God at the same time.

The Hebrew writer wrote in Hebrews chapter one and verse three, in part: The Son—S O N, that is, the Son of God, even Jesus—the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. So Jesus is Immanuel, God with us, perfectly moral and ethical without any sin. Hebrews chapter four and verse 15 says, in part: One who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet was without sin.

Now we remember and memorialize Jesus’ death every week at the Lord’s table, in our communion with the Lord. However, we usually commemorate Jesus’ birth only once a year at Christmas time. We don’t know the exact date of Jesus’ birth. We don’t know the exact date of Jesus’ death. We don’t know the exact date of Christ’s second coming. But we do know from the inspired Scriptures which we believe are inerrant, without error, that Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit, that he was born of the virgin, that he was named Jesus, that he is Immanuel, God with us exactly, explicitly as revealed, recorded and preserved in Scripture as Immanuel at Messiah’s first coming to earth. He is God with his people Israel and his first coming when it was with Israel.

And yet he is also God with us with all of mankind. Jesus Christ today physically is tangibly at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, flesh and bone in his glorified body. Yet according to Scripture Jesus Christ is still God with us, the Church. God the Son, with us in his Spirit. And according to Matthew chapter 18 and verse 20 where Jesus said where two or three come together in my name there I am with them, that is, in his Spirit. And according to Matthew chapter 28 and verse 20, Jesus said, in part and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age… by his Spirit.

As persevering Christians we all look forward to the time and the truth revealed by Jesus in John chapter 14 and verse three where Jesus said: I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am. Immanuel is returning for his own physically, tangibly, bodily. Are you ready? You must be in Christ Jesus to be taken up in the air to be with him forever more when he comes first for his Church.

 

               David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, Indiana




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4