Christmas is a wonderful time of the year in so many ways. It is a time for miracles. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied about his miraculous birth.
14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.
The historical context of Isaiah’s words was the pending battle that the southern tribes of Israel anticipated from the northern tribes who were partnering with the Syrian army. King Ahaz was tempted to call upon the assistance of the Assyrian forces to win the battle, but such an alliance would come at a price and would demonstrate Ahaz’s lack of dependence upon God.
Isaiah’s prophecy had a double fulfillment. First, it was fulfilled during the time of Ahaz’s reign. God was going to deliver Jerusalem from the attack. It was going to be obvious to everyone that God was with them, bringing the victory. Now it was a common practice in those days to name your child after a significant event. Names had meaning. This is seen throughout the Old Testament. In this instance, to demonstrate the people’s faith in God and recognition of His presence in their nation, one young woman would give birth to a son and name him Immanuel, which literally means, “God with us.”
One item of extreme importance should be pointed out. The conception of this child during Isaiah’s day was not a immaculate conception. (There was only one of those, and more about that in a moment.) The timing of the birth and naming of the child was significant, but the conception itself came about in the normal way. The Hebrew word translated “virgin” can mean either “virgin” or “young woman.” The fulfillment of the prophecy during the time of Isaiah means the young woman who gave birth around 700 BC was still unmarried and therefore a virgin at the time that Isaiah prophesied, yet soon after that she got married, conceived, nine months later delivered a baby boy, and named him Immanuel in fulfillment of the prophecy.
The second fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy came 700 years later with the birth of Jesus. His birth was truly a miraculous birth. Mary was a virgin. The child placed in Mary’s womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit. God became flesh to live among us and be our Savior. Miraculous! Too unbelievable to believe. God spoke to Mary’s fiancé Joseph to confirm that what Mary said about her pregnancy — the word prophesied by Isaiah — were true.
18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.
20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”
24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.
Christmas is a time for miracles. The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 and its ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus demonstrates that:
> The Lord knows exactly what we need. “Therefore the Lord Himself…”
> The Lord gives us what we need. “…will give you…”
> The Lord keeps His Word. “…a sign…”
> The Lord does the impossible. “…the virgin will conceive, have a son…”
> The Lord is with us. “…and name him Immanuel.”