This devotional is Day 3 of the 25-Day Advent Series “The Wonders of His Love.” Follow along with us as we grow in grace through the Christmas story by subscribing or visiting the home page above!
Scripture: Isaiah 7:10-14
“Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”
And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:10-14
It’s Christmas time! And if you’re anything like me you also love taking long strolls through Christmas décor (hello, Hobby Lobby)!
The feeling is almost magical as I walk through what seems to be a winter wonderland. Christmas trees galore. White frosted garland that takes my breath away. Aisles and aisles of the most darling ornaments. Adorable gingerbread men and gigantic sparkling peppermints! And of course, the beautiful handcrafted calligraphy signs.
In beautifully scripted lettering many signs read, “the most wonderful time of the year” and “joy to the world.” Absolutely dreamy.
One of my favorite signs, however, reads one word: believe. Just one word that carries so much meaning for the believer.
There’s no doubt that we live in a skeptical world. A world that’s doubtful of miracles and cynical of a loving God that sent His son for us. But THAT’S the Christmas story!
And Christians believe in the miracle of Christmas. Not like an adult trying to believe in Santa or a fable, but a belief set in faith, historical record, and eyewitness accounts!
But for the skeptic? The virgin birth specifically keeps them away.
What the Old Testament prophecy proclaimed and whether Jesus actually fulfilled it is all under question by unbelievers alike.
Years ago, while attending a biblically sound college I had the opportunity to write a persuasive paper affirming the virgin birth. And as Peter states in 1 Peter 3:15 we should “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
We as believers need to be prepared to give our foundational proof and reasoning as to why we believe what we do! And what a beautiful opportunity Advent gives us to do so!
Let’s dig in, shall we?
A Virgin Birth Foretold
In our main passage Ahaz, King of Judah, refused to respond to God’s invitation to ask for a sign. A sign so incredibly miraculous that there could be no confusion – only God could have done it!
So, despite Ahaz’s cold, hard heart, God introduced the sign He would give to the people: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
With this incredible sign there would be no mistake that the child was the long awaited one – the Savior of the world.
Almah is the Hebrew word that is then translated virgin in our language. Although some claim that almah usually refers to an unspecific “young woman,” here in this passage it doubtlessly refers to a “maiden.”
In the Old Testament context a maiden was an unmarried young woman who was sexually pure. Virginity was one of her characteristics. Isaiah wasn’t speaking of any woman who was young in age. He was speaking specifically of a virgin. What is the proof that almah did indeed refer to “virgin” and not simply a “young woman”?
First, would be the usage of context in which almah is used in other places of scripture. Almah is used a handful of times in the Old Testament and every time it’s used it refers to virginity. Check out Genesis 24:16, 43; Exodus 2:8, “girl”, Psalm 68:25, Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8; and Proverbs 30:19.
Yes, I’ve looked into and researched each of the verses. And you should too! See for yourself!
The second proof would be the word Jewish scholars used to translate almah in the Septuagint (the earliest Greek version of the Old Testament), a couple hundred years before Christ.
Jewish scholars used the Greek word parthenos which exclusively means “virgin”. Um, hello! This means the Jewish people understood the Hebrew term as being virgin. They had understood who this woman would be two-hundred years before Jesus was born!
So, to the critics who say that Matthew in the New Testament wrongly applied parthenos to the virgin birth is simply not the case. It was all in accord with the Septuagint and other Greek writings that took place hundreds of years before.
Call me a word nerd or history geek but, girl, that is pretty cool stuff to know and understand. That means when we read Isaiah 7:14 we can be sure that the prophecy clearly spoke of a virgin conceiving and bearing a son.
A Virgin Birth Fulfilled
Now that we understand and can give evidence to the validity of the virgin birth prophecy how can we give a defense that Jesus Christ actually did fulfill it? That Matthew 1:23 actually happened? That one star filled night, surrounded by the sounds of tired stable animals, and with a godly husband holding her hand a young virgin, Mary, gave birth to the Son of God?
I mean, couldn’t some willy nilly come along and decidedly write it down? Mm, I don’t think so. And many New Testament scholars would agree. Here’s why: first century persecution.
People who proclaimed the gospel were being executed in barbaric and excruciating ways. That was the real life reality for the early Christian church. They were being crucified, fed to wild beasts, and burned alive because of the beliefs they unashamedly spoke up about.
Obviously, the writers had absolutely nothing to gain from making up facts to go with their made up religion. But they sure had everything to lose. No person in their right mind would do such a thing unless what they documented actually happened.
Not only that, Christ is recorded as fulfilling many prophecies – not just the virgin birth. Here’s a handful to get the ball rolling:
- He’d be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2
- Ministry would begin in Galilee – Isaiah 9:1-2
- He would perform miracles – Isaiah 35:5-6
- He’d be proceeded by a forerunner – Isaiah 40:3-4
- He’d be despised and rejected – Isaiah 53:1-3
- He would set the captives free – Isaiah 61:1
- He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey – Zechariah 9:9
- He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver – Zechariah 11:12-13
First, to fulfill all these prophesies literally makes Him 1 in millions. There is greater probability of you becoming the next president of the U.S. than all the above prophecies being completed. Yet, here we are reading eyewitness accounts of Jesus Christ doing just that.
And for the skeptics who question the truth and reliability of the biographies of Jesus? Well that’s just a whole other can of holy worms to be opened. To condense the answer here, I’d say to him or her examine the gospels for yourself. Read them.
They are composed in sober minded thinking and with attention to the details surrounding what happened. When you read the gospels you see the meticulous thoroughness and visible care in which they were written.
The recorded gospels weren’t anything like many other ancient documents full of obvious mythology and ridiculous embellishments. That being said, it’s credible that the gospel writers were truly recording what had actually taken place.
This Christmas, as you celebrate what this season is all about, be still and think of what an incredible miracle the virgin birth was! A sign from God Himself.
Jesus Christ left His heavenly home to come into our world. Fully God and fully man through the virgin birth. To live a perfect life, die for our sins, and three days later be resurrected so all that call on His name may have peace with God.
And we believe it.
Questions for the Heart:
- How does this truth about God’s Word give you confidence to share your faith?
- Why was it important for Jesus to fulfill this specific prophecy? How does it also show us His holiness – making Him worthy of being the perfect sacrifice for our sin?
- With this God again shows us His ability to do the impossible. Praise Him in prayer today and ask for Him to keep revealing His glory to you.
About the Author
Hi there! My name’s Hannah and I’m the girl behind Lattes with the Lord blog! I’m crazy about this guy named Jesus, I drink way too much coffee, and I believe laughter and encouragement are good medicine.
Dosey Doe on over to my website, get cozy, and stay awhile. I have this great feeling we’re going to be friends!