(Post 2 of a series of 3)
This is the second post in a three-part series on why we should believe in Christ’s virgin birth. With the first post, I explained that we should believe in the virgin birth because scripture demands it. With this one I want to show that we should believe in it because Bible prophecy demands it.
In Matthew 1:22-23, Matthew weaves an Old Testament prophecy into his God-inspired writing. He writes: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.'”
This prophecy was given by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before Jesus was born. We find the story in Isaiah chapter 7. The Lord instructed Ahaz, the king of Judah (Israel’s two southern tribes), to ask for a sign as proof that the allied forces of Syria and Israel (Israel’s ten northern tribes) would not invade and conquer Judah. God said the sign could be anything on earth or in the heavens. Ahaz, however, refused to name a sign. His problem was that he had pretty much already set his heart on getting his help from another group of people, the Assyrians.
The Lord was displeased with Ahaz’s refusal, and He went ahead and named a sign anyway. God said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” That is the part of the prophecy that Matthew quotes in his gospel.
However, for the rest of the prophecy, God went on to say other things about the child. First, the child would eat curds and honey. Second, before the child would be old enough to know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the kings of Syria and Israel would meet their doom and the king of Assyria would invade the land of Judah.
There is much debate as to how God’s sign actually played out in the life of King Ahaz. It seems clear, though, that if the sign was only fulfilled in Christ’s birth that wouldn’t have been any sign to Ahaz. After all, Ahaz lived centuries before Jesus was born.
Therefore, the sign surely had some kind of partial fulfillment in Ahaz’s time. Perhaps a virgin that Ahaz knew got married shortly after God gave this sign. Perhaps then the newly married virgin got pregnant by her husband and gave birth to a son in less than a year. Some even contend that the woman was Isaiah’s second wife, his first wife having died.
Frankly, we just don’t know the exact details of how God’s sign played out to King Ahaz. What we do know is how the sign was ultimately and perfectly fulfilled. Matthew leaves no doubt about that. That final fulfillment came when Jesus was born to the virgin Mary.
And here again we see in the careful wording of the Old Testament text that Mary was a virgin when she bore Jesus. The Hebrew word that is used to define the young mother in the Isaiah passage is almah. This word comes from the root word alam, which means “to hide or conceal.” This shows us that the word specifically refers to a virgin. One writer has said: “The name was given to a virgin because she is said to be hidden or concealed in the family of the parents.” And so, based upon Matthew’s use of the prophetic passage from Isaiah, we can say assuredly that Bible prophecy demanded the virgin birth.
Before we move on, though, let me tell you about another prophecy that Christ’s birth fulfilled. This one goes all the way back to the garden of Eden. According to Genesis 3:15, after Adam and Eve had sinned in the garden, God said to Satan (who was inside the serpent at the time), “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He (her Seed) shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
What jumps out at us as we read this prophecy is the strange idea of a woman having reproductive seed. That isn’t the way the human reproductive system works, is it? So why did God prophesy to Satan about the Seed of the woman?
He did it as a way of telling Satan about the virgin birth. Thousands of years from that fateful day, Jesus (the One who would strike a blow to Satan’s head) would be conceived in the womb of a virgin. He wouldn’t be the product of the seed of a man; He would be history’s only seed of a woman. This is why that Genesis 3:15 prophecy is called “the first gospel.” And that prophecy, along with the one from Isaiah chapter 7, is undeniable proof that we should believe in the virgin birth because Bible prophecy demands it.