“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
Over the years some have looked at this verse with skepticism in regards to the use of the word, “virgin.” Some would have us believe that it ought to be translated “young unmarried woman.” This really is just a device to avoid the miracle of Christ’s virgin birth. The word actually refers specifically to a “maiden”, that is, to a young woman who is unmarried and sexually chaste and thus has virginity as one of her characteristics.
The name Immanuel, “God with us,” is the message of the sign. It is so important that Matthew translates it for his readers in Matthew 1:23.
Emmanuel (the same as “Immanuel” except spelled with an E) is Jesus’ name descriptively but it was never spoken to Him directly. You’ll never read in Scripture about someone saying, “Emmanuel, come over here please.” You’ll hear them say, “Jesus,” “Rabbi,” or “Master,” but never Emmanuel. This name Emmanuel is a descriptive title of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ—God with us. Emmanuel clearly describes the perfect holiness of God with all of His righteous attributes. Perhaps this is the reason during the millennial Kingdom Jesus will be called, “Yahweh-Tsidkenu,” or “the LORD is our righteousness!” (See Jeremiah 33:16).
Yahweh (Self-existent One) is not only righteous Himself but has declared us to be righteous as well! Not on the basis of anything that we have done or because of anything intrinsically good within us but rather, because of Jesus’ obedience to the Father in going to the cross on our behalf. (See Romans 5:19)
Isaiah 9:6,7 is another prophecy that elaborates further on the concept of Immanuel, the child born to the virgin (7:14). The virgin child will also be the royal Son of David with rights to the Davidic throne. This coming King is clearly divine, for there has not been any king in the Davidic line that was like the one described here in Isaiah 9.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
While on our trip to the Middle East last month, our guide in Israel was a wonderful God-fearing archeologist named Ruthie. We grew to love her in a matter of days. She was extremely knowledgeable and had guided tours for notable people like Bible scholar Chuck Missler, Hal Lindsey, Mike Huckabee, and even Pat Boone. I call her God-fearing because she would say things like, “Never question the Bible, always question yourself.”
As we were driving at the end of our trip, I asked her, “Ruthie, why is it that you do not accept Christ as the Messiah?” She thought about it for a moment and then said, “He does not fulfill all the prophecies found in Isaiah!” I thought more about that and in some sense I could understand what she was saying. The prophecy of Isaiah 9 has only partially been fulfilled. Christ the Messiah does not have “the government upon his shoulder,”…at least not yet. The Thousand Year Reign known as the Millennium will bring this prophecy to fulfillment (See Revelation 20:2). I asked her what her Messiah would do and she said, “Deliver Israel from her enemies and bring about lasting peace.” She then said something profound, “Perhaps when your Messiah comes back he will be my Messiah too.”
Friends, never underestimate the power of subversive questions. I use the word subversive not in the negative or destructive sense but to refer to questions that motivate people and encourage them to re-conceptualize long held positions. When asked with sincerity and love we get very insightful answers from others!