Summary: Immanuel - God has always been with man, but He came as a man to help us know God. He has always been with you.
Immanuel – God With Us 10-19-03
Matthew 1:22-25 (NIV) 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
This is the first of Matthew’s 16 prophetic proofs fulfilled in Jesus. He has already given us several in the genealogy, but this is the first formal one in which he says this took place to fulfill the word through the prophet Isaiah. He is referring to a sign that God said He would give the king of Judah, Ahaz. 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)
Let’s consider what was happening at that time in the nation of Judah. Ahaz was one of the wicked kings. Israel, the northern ten tribes, had attacked Judah and killed 120,000 in one day. In addition, they carried away captive 200,000 men, women and children as slaves. Syria had attacked and defeated one of Judah’s fortified cities and taken the captives to Damascus. In the midst of this very low point in Judah’s history, Ahaz is wondering if Judah is finished along with the royal line of David. Had the promises of God failed?
The prophet Isaiah was trying to tell him that God was not done with Judah, and His promise to David was still in effect. Ahaz will not listen, so Isaiah told him to ask for a sign to verify it. Ahaz refused to ask a sign. He gave some pious remark about not tempting God. Isaiah told him that God was going to give him a sign anyway. A virgin will give birth to a son and before he can tell right from wrong those two kings that were enemies of Judah will be gone. This child would be referred to as Immanuel. It sounded utterly impossible. How could weakened Judah survive these powerful enemies? Yet it did by the Divine direction of God.
God was speaking to something greater than the survival of Judah. He was speaking of keeping His promises. He was addressing His ability to keep His word in ways that are above and beyond what we can imagine. Ahaz is worried about his power and the physical holdings and positions of men. God is addressing man’s need for the intervention of God and the ultimate fulfillment of all His promises.
Thousands of years before Isaiah, God had promised that the Deceiver’s head would be crushed by the seed of the woman. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Gen 3:15 (NIV) It was the first promise of a Savior. What did that mean, the offspring of the woman? How can a child be only the offspring of the woman? God elaborated through Isaiah, “A virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son.” That means the bloodline is from God. A child’s blood type is determined by his father. Since the Law declares the life of the flesh to be in the blood, the promise of a virgin conceiving a child brings into the world someone free from the curse upon Adam and his offspring.
Bible critics, desperate to disprove the miraculous, claim this word for virgin does not mean virgin, but young lady. If God miraculously visited man through the virgin birth, then we are all accountable to hear and obey what our Creator came to tell us. Since this is not something they are willing to consider, they search for a reason to discount it. In doing so they site Proverbs 30:19 as their example that the word used does not necessarily mean virgin. “…the way of a man with a maid.” Not only is the translation there questionable, but so is their interpretation. Many versions have translated it “the way of a warrior in his youth.” Even if the translation is correct, it may mean the wooing of virgin, not the relationship of a married couple.
The very word, almah means to be hidden or covered. Mary had not been uncovered by a man. The Holy Spirit could not have chosen a better word to describe her. When Gabriel told her she would be with child, her response was, “How can this be since I have not known a man?” (Luke 1:34) In the Isaiah prophecy, Ha-almah is best translated ‘the virgin’. God had chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus, the virgin that would conceive, the woman whose seed (offspring) would crush the head of the Deceiver.