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Behold a Virgin shall Conceive Part 3

We began this series by examining the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14, and continued by looking at the historical aspects surrounding the verse, and finally, we are going to tie this all together as to why this chapter is about not only the Messiah, but also why there had to be two advents.

To do this, we have to actually back up to chapter 6, which begins with Isaiah seeing the Lord, to Whom he cries out:

Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

He is, no doubt, thinking of when Moses was allowed to see only the hinder parts of God least he die.

Isaiah 6:6-7 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: (7) And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

This could be a study in and of itself, but for the sake of brevity just note that his sins are forgiven.

Isaiah 6:9-10 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. (10) Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

God told Isaiah that they would not understand. Understand what? Well, the next several chapters, especially chapters 7-14, if not all of what He would say, but it is particularly important to note that Jesus tells us that this is part of the first advent. Observe:

Matthew 13:10-16 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (11) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. (13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. (14) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: (15) For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

Isaiah 6:11-12 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, (12) And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

This means that they are going to be taken all away, and they are not going to understand until AFTER their return. They still have not returned, not all, and certainly not the House of Israel, that is to say the ten northern tribes.

Take special note of this final verse of the chapter:

Isaiah 6:13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

This translation really doesn’t cover what the Bible is saying here because we don’t eat teil trees or oaks, as they are deciduous trees, and the word eaten, here, is more along the lines of “used up,” not “consumed”. What it is really saying is that the trees (note there are two trees for both the houses of Israel and Judah) are going to shed their leaves, and their substance will be in them, just like how a deciduous tree moves it’s sap, etc., down into the roots (remember the root of Jesse?) to survive winter or a dry season.

“So the Holy Seed shall be the substance thereof.” This is the exact same seed God spoke about, and has been protecting, way back since the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

And that, my friends, is the first prophecy concerning Jesus Christ.

This brings us back to chapter 7.

Isaiah 7:3 Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field;

When God gives us a specific place and specific people, it’s time to open those eyes. A fuller’s job was to cleanse impurities from cloth or wool, and the fuller’s field is where they did their work. So, why did God tell him to speak to Ahaz here? It was to let us know that all the crud is going to get scrubbed, that is to say the wickedness and sinful behavior will be removed. If we then pair that location with Isaiah’s son, Shearjashub, which means, “a remnant will return,” it gives us the message that Israel shall return after they are cleansed.

Isaiah had two sons (that we know of), and this is the only place this son is mentioned. His other son, Mahershalalhashbaz, which means, “hastened-booty speedy spoil,” is only mentioned at the beginning of chapter 8. Most students of the Bible recognize that the second child, Mahershalalhashbaz, is the sign promised to Ahaz, and that the name itself (given by God in Isaiah 8:1) tells us how the Assyrian will come.

Isaiah 8:3-4 And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

What most people read over is:

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

That is “children,” plural. This means both children, and Isaiah (which means, “Yahaveh’s Salvation.”) himself. What does that mean if we put all of this together? It means, “From Yahaveh’s Salvation (Isaiah) comes two children, Shearjashub and Mahershalalhashbaz.” This tells us that God’s salvation plan has two parts, and if we pay attention, we will know that means two advents. That is why John asked:

Luke 7:19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

He didn’t ask if we should look for another because he didn’t know who Jesus was at this point: he had already baptized Him, and the Holy Spirit announced who He was. He asked because he knew that God’s salvation plan had TWO parts.

Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

These verses do not describe Mahershalalhashbaz. That child was only the type to prove the words of Isaiah were true. I didn’t really want this article to turn solely into a post about the two advents (I feel that should be a topic in a of itself). I began by just wanting to address some of the criticisms that the word, “virgin,” receives, and it has turned into all of this. I hope you have learned something worth-while, and it has caused you to look deeper into His word for yourself. I can’t help but close with these two verses:

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

This is the first advent.

Zechariah 9:10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

This is the second advent.

Until next time, May God bless you and keep you.

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Behold a Virgin shall Conceive Part 2

In Part 1, we addressed the use of the Hebrew word, almah (virgin), as it is used in Isaiah 7:14. Today we are going to look at the whole of chapter 7 and onwards to understand the historical aspects of what is written, which will lead to how it pertains to the birth of Christ, and then into His future return.

Many people ask why the historical context is important, and the answer is really twofold. First, it’s important because God gave us a very specific set of instructions to tell whether a prophet came from Him or not.

Deuteronomy 18:20-22  But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. (21) And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? (22) When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

Many scholars will look at historical prophecies, like those given in Daniel, and say that they have already come to pass, and that they were given to those specific people for that specific period of time, and that those prophecies don’t have any more meaning for us today. The problem with that is there are many parts of Daniel and this book of Isaiah that have not come to pass even to this day. Why? Because God gave us the prophecy and allowed it to be partially fulfilled to show that prophets like Isaiah and Daniel truly came from Him. If we only have prophecy given for the end of the world then we wouldn’t know if they came from Him until after the end of the world and by then it wouldn’t matter. God wants us to know before hand.

Mark 13:23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

The second reason is that the historical context gives us the example for the future. Thus, if we can see the physical past events that happened, it helps us to understand not only the physical events that will happen, but also the spiritual ones.

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Therefore, we need to know and understand what happened historically during the time of Isaiah.

Isaiah 7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

What did the world look like at this point in history? The kingdoms of Judah and Israel, having been split, are sometimes called the northern and southern kingdoms.  The northern kingdom didn’t want to go down to Jerusalem to worship, and instead they set up two golden calves to worship.

To the north of the northern kingdom, you have Syria, and to its east you have the big daddy superpower of the world Assyria. The Assyrian empire was extremely aggressive and had, in the not too distant past, threatened the northern kingdom during the reign of Menahem. Menahem decided to pay tribute to Assyria instead of fighting, however as anyone knows, if you feed a problem it only makes it hungrier.

Israel was a mess and was well past the four sons that God had promised Jehu would sit on the throne, Jehoadaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam II and Zechariah. Now we have a pile of evil generals and politicos that started with Shallum and there is even some evidence that supports the notion that the northern kingdom was split between Israel and Ephraim. Regardless, God wasn’t happy with any of it.

Did Israel care? No, of course not. So they decided to join up with Syria and attack Judah. Now it’s hard to say for sure why Israel decided to attack Judah. Some speculate that Israel and Syria joined forces to stave off the mounting pressure of Assyria and wanted Ahaz to join them. Ahaz refused so they attacked him. It would seem strange for a pair of kings, worried about an Assyrian assault, to attack a southern neighbor, but it isn’t unheard of. I mean, Hitler did the same thing with Russia while fighting the west. The bottom line is people do strange things when they don’t stop to consult our Father.

Now Ahaz wasn’t a peach. He was just as evil as… well he was a bad dude. He sacrificed, not only to other gods, but he participated in Molechism, which is tossing children into fire. But when you decide to join up with a foreigner (Syria) and attack your brother (Judah), you’re going to be in a heap of hurt. Those of you that have kids can relate. If your sons or daughters have a fight with one another, that’s one thing, but if one of your sons grabs some other kid and uses him to beat up their brother that is crossing the line. Quite frankly, it’s unthinkable for most of us, but that is what Pekah did.

Reading on in Isaiah chapter 7, we will find that God sends Isaiah and specifically tells him to bring his son Shearjashub (this will be important to remember in the next part) to meet with Ahaz and tell him that Syria and Ephraim are not going to prevail, and that within 65 years they are not going to even be a people. Then God says:

Isaiah 7:10-11  Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

Pause a moment. God tells you to ask for a sign would you ask? I mean He didn’t say I’ll give you one if you would like. He TOLD him to ask, but what does the mighty Ahaz do?

Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD.

He can sacrifice children to Molech, but he won’t tempt God by doing what He tells him to do. That calls to mind a verse earlier in this book of Isaiah doesn’t it?

Isaiah 3:4 And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.

Anyway, that brings us to the well-known verse 14

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This is the SIGN for the above prophecy. Namely, that God is going to make it so that Syria and Ephraim are no longer a people. Historically, this happened which is why most of Israel is scattered to this day, not knowing who they are.

Fast-forward to chapter 8:

Isaiah 8:1-4  Moreover the LORD said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Mahershalalhashbaz. (2) And I took unto me faithful witnesses to record, Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah. (3) And I went unto the prophetess; and she conceived, and bare a son. Then said the LORD to me, Call his name Mahershalalhashbaz. (4) For before the child shall have knowledge to cry, My father, and my mother, the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the king of Assyria.

Clearly the prophetess isn’t a virgin (though she could’ve been prior), but obviously this is the child of which God spoke that would come, but only in part. This child is a proof that what Isaiah said was true. How do we know Mahershalalhashbaz isn’t the child Immanuel? Because if you read on through to chapter 9 you come to:

Isaiah 9:6-7  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (7) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Did Mahershalalhashbaz accomplish this? No, and because he wasn’t of the house of David, we know that ultimately this isn’t the child God intended. Thus, we know that God intended this for a future messiah.  Also if you read on through to chapter 14, where this whole sequence continues on to, you will see that Mahershalalhashbaz doesn’t come close to fitting the bill in it’s entirety.

But, was Mahershalalhashbaz the one Isaiah (or God rather) was speaking about in 7:14? Well Isaiah seemed to think so:

Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.

But wait, it says Children not child. Hey I’m glad you noticed that. It does say that, doesn’t it? That’s why I told you to note how God told Isaiah to bring his son, Shearjashub which means, a remnant shall return. And we will cover what that sign means prophecically even onto this day when we return in part 3.

If this was helpful please share and God bless.

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Behold a Virgin shall Conceive Part 1

Critics like to attack the book of Matthew, and they usually begin those attacks in the very first chapter.

Matthew 1:21-23 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (22) Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

For Christians we call these verses to mind every year, and it becomes a large bedrock of our faith. Others will say that the prophecy he is referring to doesn’t use the word virgin, nor is it speaking about the Messiah.

When I began this post I thought that I was going to just going to look at the prophecy it comes from:

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,

and examine the Hebrew word that the King James Bible translates as ‘virgin’ and leave it at that, but it would seem that God wouldn’t let me stop there and what began as a single article has grown into what will be probably three or four.

So without further ado, let’s pull up the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14:

H5959  עַלְמָה  ‛almâh
al-maw’
Feminine of H5958; a lass (as veiled or private): – damsel, maid, virgin.

So what’s the problem? Clearly virgin is on the list of possible translations right? It is, but there is a group of Hebrew scholars that say it shouldn’t mean virgin, but rather it should be a young girl or woman. Now if that’s true, then why was it ever translated virgin? Good question. The claim is that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), completed probably around the 3rd century, used the Greek word for virgin instead of young woman, and that it was the Septuagint that Matthew referenced to compose his gospel. So, they say that Christians have been using the wrong translation ever since. A point which I feel is rendered moot when you consider the Septuagint was translated by 70 or more Hebrew Scholars that didn’t have any Christian influence since it was translated 2-300 years before Jesus was born.

Where does that leave us? First if you think about it, even if the word meant young unmarried woman or maid, it would almost certainly imply she is a virgin. But let’s not just say that because Hebrew scholars will say that, if it meant virgin, it would have used the word ‘bethulah,’ which leaves us with the fact that, if you grab from Christian sources, you will find many reasons (some good and some bad) as to why the word should be ‘virgin,’ and if you grab from Jewish sources (some good and some bad) you will find a myriad of reasons why ‘almah’ doesn’t mean virgin.

For now let’s back up from the word a bit and look at the context.

Isaiah 7:10-14 Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, (11) Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. (12) But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. (13) And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

God tells Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses and God says He is going to give one anyway. Right? So think on this a moment. God says there is going to be a sign, whether Ahaz wants one or not, which must mean this sign is pretty important. It would also mean that the sign would be special. Correct? In the book of John, when God gives us a sign, He raises the dead. When He wanted to give Egypt a sign, He split the Red Sea. So here, when God wants to give a special sign, He says that a woman will give birth? I don’t know about you guys, but it doesn’t seem to me that a woman giving birth is very earth-shattering.  I mean, I don’t want to make it sound that I think the miracle of birth isn’t special, but it isn’t rare. It happens every few seconds.

That being said, chapter 8 gives us the birth of Mahershalalhashbaz (which means hasten-booty speed spoil) who God names. This is probably the real reason that they used the word, almah, and not ‘bethulah,’ because the first child wasn’t born from a virgin, and that child didn’t complete everything given in the prophecy (we will cover more on this in the next post), whereas the second, Jesus of Nazareth, did.

The next segment is where things really start to get interesting because you see that “A virgin shall conceive” isn’t the prophecy, not really. It is the sign God would give so that we would know that the prophecy in Isaiah 7 was not only true, but that we would have the time frame of the whole thing. Until next time, may God bless you and keep you.

 

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