There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. —Soren Kierkegaard. "…truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity–it is simply true and that is the end of it" – Os Guinness, Time for Truth, pg.39. “He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
“Hebrews 9 is a chapter rich in biblical theological intratextuality, which is a complex way of saying: Hebrews 9 is an explosion of biblical glory, which brings together all the elements of God’s story—the the covenants, the priests, sacrifices, etc. And when all of them find their fulfillment in Christ, we see that the story of the universe has a place for us, if we will draw near to God in Christ.”
(David Schrock) Imagine that you were writing the script of your life. In your story, the place was yours to decide, as well as the people, the problems, and the pleasures. As the author of the story and the inventor of your universe, you got to decide how you would do it.
So, how would you do it? How could you write up something so large, so complex, so weighty? And would it even be possible to write a grand story without imitating the story that God has written? View article →
“By this logic, Joe Rogan and others — who have had covid-19 and choose not to take the jab because they trust their natural immunity — are akin to terrorists or cult members.”
(Matt Agorist) In 2016, after the horrifying attacks by extremists in Paris on Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine, on a Jewish supermarket, and on the Bataclan concert hall — which left 107 people dead — France made the decision to open reeducation camps….
In these camps, alleged radicalized Islamists would “be taught their patriotic duties and forced to undergo psychological treatment in an attempt to counter jihadist indoctrination.”
The move was highly controversial and drew criticisms from human rights experts, including survivors of China’s reeducation camps for Uighurs. Though the criticisms were well-founded, the crimes of those they were trying to stop were well documented, and left a blood trail that shook the country to its core. View article →
The storm broke Pharaoh’s obstinacy once more. “It is enough!” he cried; and “I have sinned!” and again “I and my people are wicked.” For the third time he promised that the Israelites should be allowed to depart; and once more Moses stayed the plague; though he said coldly to Pharaoh that he knew this promise also would be broken. It was; and the eighth plague, that of locusts, was sent. Moses gave the Egyptians forewarning of this; for it was a visitation whose meaning they understood, a calamity which in all ages has threatened the eastern lands. Sometimes swarms of locusts eat up every sign of vegetation, they destroy every seed; and in their wake comes famine. Hence at this dread threat even Pharaoh’s own servants begged him to let the Israelites go, crying “Knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed.” Yet not until the locusts actually came, did Pharaoh yield; and when they were gone he broke his word the fourth time.
Then came a darkness over the land, such darkness as men could feel; and for a time all movement, all life seemed to be blotted out. Fear came upon all the people, fear lest the darkness was forever, so that men screamed out where they sat, and many must have gone mad with the screaming.
Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
“Why,” cries one, “this is no promise of God.” Just so, but it was a promise of man, and therefore it came to nothing. Peter thought that he was saying what he should assuredly carry out; but a promise which has no better foundation than a human resolve will fall to the ground. No sooner did temptations arise than Peter denied his Master and used oaths to confirm his denial.
What is man’s word? An earthen pot broken with a stroke. What is your own resolve? A blossom, which, with God’s care, may come to fruit, but which, left to itself, will fall to the ground with the first wind that moves the bough.
On man’s word hang only what it will bear.
On thine own resolve depend not at all.
On the promise of thy God hang time and eternity, this world and the next, thine all and the all of all thy beloved ones.
This volume is a checkbook for believers, and this page is meant as a warning as to what bank they draw upon and whose signature they accept. Rely upon Jesus without limit. Trust not thyself nor any born of woman, beyond due bounds; but trust thou only and wholly in the Lord.
7:14 The Hebrew word ‘almah refers to a young woman before the age of marriage, and is sometimes translated “virgin.” Some interpreters claim that Matthew misappropriated this verse (Mt 1:23) in applying it to the birth of Jesus. They believe Isaiah was referring to a woman in the time of Ahaz—either a son born to an ‘almah in Ahaz’s harem or a son to Isaiah’s wife (Is 8:1–4), and that this “Immanuel” was a sign of hope for the future when “God will be with us.” Others accept this immediate application, but also view the passage as prophetic of Christ (a “double fulfillment” approach). But Ahaz’s good son Hezekiah was already born at this time; and Isaiah already had children, so his wife would not be called a “virgin” at this point in her life. Thus, many believe this prophecy only referred to the future birth of the Messiah. If so, this messianic application was expanded and verified through progressive revelation in 9:6–7, which announced that “a child will be born for us … He will reign on the throne of David.”
7:14 The context indicates that the preliminary fulfillment of this sign must have taken place within a few years of its utterance—the time between a child’s conception and his knowing right from wrong (vv. 15–16), traditionally at age twelve. The Hebrew word translated virgin means “young woman of marriageable age” and often has the implication of virginity. Thus many scholars feel that the referent is a woman whom Isaiah would marry and, if so, then the birth is mentioned in 8:1–4. This may be the immediate fulfillment of this sign. But its ultimate and more exalted fulfillment is noted in Mt 1:23 as it cites the more specific Greek word found in the Septuagint, parthenos, which means “virgin.” Immanuel means “God With Us.”
7:14 The Hebrew word ʿalmah refers to a young woman before the age of marriage, and is sometimes translated “virgin.” Some interpreters claim that Matthew misappropriated this verse (Mt 1:23) in applying it to the birth of Jesus. They believe Isaiah was referring to a woman in the time of Ahaz—either a son born to an ʿalmah in Ahaz’s harem or a son to Isaiah’s wife (8:1–4), and that this “Immanuel” was a sign of hope for the future when “God will be with us.” Others accept this immediate application, but also view the passage as prophetic of Christ (a “double fulfillment” approach). But Ahaz’s good son Hezekiah was already born at this time; and Isaiah already had children, so his wife would not be called a “virgin” at this point in her life. Thus, many believe this prophecy only referred to the future birth of the Messiah. If so, this messianic application was expanded and verified through progressive revelation in 9:6–7, which announced that “a child will be born for us … He will reign on the throne of David.”
7:14˓Almah (Heb.) is one of two words translated as “virgin.” The other term, betulah (Heb.), is very specific, only meaning “virgin,” whereas ˓almah is more general and can sometimes mean “a young woman of marriageable age.” The ambiguity of this term is reflected in its being translated “virgin” in some places and “maiden” in others. It has been maintained that the seven uses of this word in the O.T. (Gen. 24:43; Ex. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song 1:3; 6:8; Is. 7:14) all have the meaning of “virgin.” This view is supported by the fact that translators of the LXX chose the Greek word parthenos, which means “virgin,” to translate ˓almah. In view of the importance of this verse to the N.T. doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, it is puzzling why Isaiah chose the ambiguous term, ˓almah, over the more frequent and specific one, betulah. The answer may be related to vv. 16, 22, which suggest a double fulfillment to the prophecy. The prophet may have used ˓almah instead of betulah because the impending birth which would be a sign to Ahaz would not be a virgin birth, but the future birth of Immanuel (see note in center column) would be the Virgin Birth. The virgin birth of Jesus is essential to faith because only through this miracle can Christ (1) be fully God and fully Man simultaneously; (2) be the “New Adam”; (3) be sinless and perfectly obedient to the law of God on behalf of sinners; and (4) be the payment for sins as One who is both God and Man. The term “Immanuel” (“God with us”) was not meant as a proper name but as a description of the Person and work of the Messiah (cf. 9:6; 11:1–10).
7:14 virgin. The Hebrew word occurs seven times in the Old Testament. It means a young woman of marriageable age, normally a virgin (Gen. 24:43). The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament made about 150 b.c.) translated with a word more specifically meaning “virgin.” The New Testament understands Isaiah to be designating the Virgin Mary (Matt. 1:23). See “The Virgin Birth of Jesus” at Luke 1:27.
Immanuel. “God with us.” The name conveys God’s promise to save, bless, and protect His children. The identity of the virgin and the child has been the subject of considerable discussion. Three major views have been proposed. First, some, especially Jews of the second century a.d., understood the prophecy to mean Ahaz’s wife and her child, Hezekiah (2 Kin. 18:2). But as Jerome (c. 400 a.d.) pointed out, Hezekiah was already born. Second, others identify the woman as Isaiah’s wife or a woman betrothed to him (8:3). The child is then Isaiah’s son, Maher-shalal-hashbaz. This interpretation is questionable. The Hebrew term translated “virgin” would not normally be used for a woman who was already a mother (of Shear-jashub, 7:3). If someone engaged to the prophet is meant, it becomes necessary to assume that his first wife had died. Also, the interpretation requires that the child have contradictory names: “God Is With Us” (Immanuel) and “The Spoil Speeds, the Prey Hastens” (Maher-shalal-hash-baz). Though not impossible, it seems unlikely. Finally, the child’s diet of “curds and honey” suggests that He would grow up after Judah’s destruction (v. 15 note). Tradition suggests a third interpretation, identifying the child as the Messiah, a divine personage whose birth is above nature. It equates the Child named “Immanuel” with the Child possessing God’s titles in 9:6, and with the “Branch” of ch. 11. According to Matthew, the virgin is Mary and the Child is Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:22, 23). In v. 16, the birth seems nevertheless to be imminent. Perhaps the prophecy has a partial fulfillment in the birth of Isaiah’s son Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:1–3), while the definitive fulfillment waits for the birth of Jesus Christ, who secures God’s throne forever.
7:14the virgin The Hebrew term here, almah, indicates a young woman of marriageable age. In the ancient world, a young unmarried woman who had reached puberty could reasonably be assumed to be a virgin because of the close social and familial restrictions on her activities.
There is ongoing debate about whether almah technically denotes a virgin, since the Hebrew term bethulah is the more precise word for “virgin.” If almah does not denote virginity, the implication would be that the nt interpretation of the virgin birth is mistaken (see note on Matt 1:23). However, Hebrew and Greek use a variety of terms to refer to young unmarried women or girls, indicating that physical virginity was the cultural norm and did not need to be explicitly expressed.
The overlapping use of almah and bethulah in Gen 24 to refer to the unmarried Rebekah demonstrates that these terms were considered to be interchangeable (see Gen 24:16, 43). The Septuagint uses the Greek term parthenos to translate almah in Isa 7:14 and Gen 24:43. Drawing on the Septuagint, the nt interpretation is based on the Greek word parthenos, also a more precise word for “virgin.” The nt describes the fulfillment of Isa 7:14 with the birth of Jesus in Matt 1:18–23. Matthew focuses on the miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth and the scandal of Mary’s pregnancy prior to the consummation of her marriage to Joseph. While Isaiah focuses on the child and the symbolic nature of his name, Matthew emphasizes the remarkable nature of the birth.
God with us Means “God with us.” The three symbolic names of these children point to the three phases of God’s future work: imminent judgment, coming restoration, and future redemption (compare Isa 7:3; 8:1).
The concept that God is present among His people is prominent in the ot. The symbolic name Immanuel can be understood as an affirmation of trust in Yahweh, as it is in 8:10. Such affirmations of trust are common in divine promises and prayerful statements of faith (e.g., Psa 46:7). God’s presence among His people was an important theological symbol for Israel (the presence of Yahweh enters the temple in 1 Kgs 8:10–11). The people’s sinfulness puts that privilege in jeopardy. The sign of Immanuel should remind Ahaz that—at least for now—God’s presence remains with Israel.
The name Immanuel symbolizes the full restoration of Yahweh’s broken relationship with His people. While the immediate context of the sign itself points to a short-term fulfillment (see note on Isa 7:10–25), the larger context of Isaiah heavily stresses the future time of redemption and reconciliation between Yahweh and Israel. The coming salvation is depicted in the royal role of the Messiah in 9:2–8 that weaves divine titles into the description of the ideal righteous ruler—the Davidic messiah. The close relationship between messianic and divine roles and titles supports the understanding of Immanuel as a messianic figure. In 11:1–10, the Messiah is given the divine right to judge the nations; His reign inaugurates an era of worldwide peace. The suffering, death, and destruction that entered the world through sin will be replaced with peace, justice, and righteousness as predator and prey live together in harmony (11:6). The time of Immanuel will reflect the perfection of creation as originally formed in the garden of Eden.
7:14the Lord himself. Failure of the human king to respond to the invitation (v. 12) results in the divine King again taking the initiative (cf. v. 17). Similarly, two such signs would be offered to Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son and successor (see 37:30; 38:7).
Although some claim that the word translated virgin (Hb. ‘almah) refers generally to a “young woman,” it actually refers specifically to a “maiden”—that is, to a young woman who is unmarried and sexually chaste, and thus has virginity as one of her characteristics (see Gen. 24:16, 43; Ex. 2:8, “girl”). Thus when the Septuagint translators, 200 years before the birth of Christ, rendered ‘almah here with Greek parthenos (a specific term for “virgin”) they rightly perceived the meaning of the Hebrew term; and when Matthew applied this prophecy to the virgin birth of Christ (see Matt. 1:23), it was in accord with this well-established understanding of parthenos (“virgin”) as used in the Septuagint and in other Greek writers.
Isaiah prophesies further that it is “the virgin” who shall call his name Immanuel. Bestowing a child’s name often falls to the mother in the OT (e.g., the naming of the patriarchs in Gen. 29:31–30:24; but cf. 35:18; also Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 1:20), although other women (cf. Ruth 4:17) or even the father (Gen. 16:15; Judg. 8:31) could be involved in the naming. The name itself, Immanuel, “God is with us,” is the message of the sign. Such is its importance that Matthew translates it for his readers (Matt. 1:23). Immanuel is used as a form of address in Isa. 8:8 (“your land, O Immanuel”), and as a sentence in 8:10 (“for God is with us”). To say that God is “with” someone or a people means that God is guiding and helping them to fulfill their calling (Gen. 21:22; Ex. 3:12; Deut. 2:7; Josh. 1:5; Ps. 46:7, 11; Isa. 41:10). As such, it would provide a pointed message either to the fearful Ahaz or to the failing royal house.
Christian interpretation follows Matthew in applying this verse to the birth of Jesus. However, some aspects of Isaiah’s prophecy also relate to the significance of the sign for Isaiah’s own day. This being the case, a number of questions are raised: To whose family does the virgin belong, and how should her marital status be understood? What is the precise significance of the child’s name? Is it a personal name, or should it be understood as a title? Most importantly, does the fulfillment of this sign belong to Isaiah’s own day, or does it rather point (even in his day) to a much more distant and complete fulfillment? Christians have typically answered these questions in one of two ways.
Some hold that the sign has a single fulfillment—that is, the sign points originally and solely to the birth of Jesus as the “ultimate” Messiah. Those who hold this view emphasize the understanding of ‘almah only as “virgin,” thus precluding any “near term” fulfillment before the birth of Jesus; this view understands “Immanuel” as a title (as in 8:8) rather than a personal name. It is also noted that the variation in reference to a “son” (Hb. ben) in 7:14, as compared to a “boy” (Hb. na‘ar) in v. 16, further distinguishes between the child of miraculous birth and a more generic reference to a male child unrelated to the divine promise. This has the effect of separating the reference to Isaiah’s day (vv. 16–17) from the fulfillment of the announced miraculous son to be born at a future time (v. 14). According to this interpretation, then, the prediction of the virgin birth in v. 14 is a straightforward prediction of an event cast well into the future, and Matthew’s application of this prophecy to Jesus (Matt. 1:20–23) provides the divinely inspired testimony to there being a single fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. By this interpretation, the sign is directed to the “house of David,” to affirm God’s intention of preserving David’s dynasty (in keeping with the promises of 2 Sam. 7:12–16), in order to bring Israel’s mission to its glorious fulfillment (Isa. 9:6–7; 11:1–10). God will use any means to do this, even miraculous ones: this is a rebuke to the faithless and secular outlook of Ahaz.
Those who see in this sign a more immediate application to Ahaz and his times usually argue that the prophecy has a double fulfillment—that is, both an immediate fulfillment in Isaiah’s day and a long-term fulfillment in the birth of the Messiah. Those who hold this view argue that it is natural for the name “Immanuel” to be understood in terms of double fulfillment, since two other “sons” perform similar symbolic roles in the context (cf. 7:3; 8:3–4). They argue further that the prophet’s own interpretation of the sign in 7:16–17 applies it directly to Ahaz’s own day. It should be observed that this understanding of the text in no way diminishes Matthew’s affirmation of the supernatural conception and virgin birth of Jesus (cf. also Luke 1:34–35). Even if the prophecy does include an immediate application to the time of Ahaz, however, the prophecy cannot have been fulfilled completely by the birth of someone like Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isa. 8:1, 3) or by Hezekiah, as some have suggested, since 9:6 prophesies the birth of a son whose name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—a statement that could apply only to the Davidic Messiah. On this understanding, then, the prophecy of 7:14 foretells the birth of Immanuel, which was fulfilled partially in Isaiah’s time but fully and finally in the person of Jesus Christ.
Faithful interpreters can be found on either side of this debate. One should not, therefore, lose sight of those truths on which all agree: the prophet speaks authoritatively for God; Ahaz and his house stand under judgment; the prophetic sign directly meets the failures of Ahaz’s day; fulfillment of the prophecy comes about through direct divine intervention in human history; and the sign finds its final fulfillment in the virgin birth of Jesus the Messiah, who is literally “God with us.”
7:14 The prophecy concerning Immanuel (see also Gen. 3:15) is fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:20–23). It is related to the larger OT theme in which God brings new life and offspring to barren women (see note on Gen. 18:10).
7:14 a sign. Since Ahaz refused to choose a sign (vv. 11, 12), the Lord chose His own sign, whose implementation would occur far beyond Ahaz’s lifetime. a virgin. This prophecy reached forward to the virgin birth of the Messiah, as the NT notes (Mt 1:23). The Heb. word refers to an unmarried woman and means “virgin” (Ge 24:43; Prov 30:19; SS 1:3; 6:8), so the birth of Isaiah’s own son (8:3) could not have fully satisified the prophecy. Cf. Ge 3:15. Immanuel. The title, applied to Jesus in Mt 1:23, means “God with us.”
7:14 — … Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
“Immanuel” means “God with us” and functions more as a title than a proper name. The angel told Mary to call her Son “Jesus,” which means “God saves.” So Jesus is the God among us who saves (Matt. 1:21, 23).
7:14 Again you is plural here. Isaiah turns from the king whom he has dismissed in judgment and addresses all who are present. The sign is for many. The word Lord speaks of the sovereignty of God, of His great control over all His creation. The pronoun Himself adds an absolute certainty to the impending sign. The Hebrew word rendered virgin means “a young woman of marriageable age.” But the word also connotes the idea of virginity, for the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made in the second century b.c., renders the Hebrew word with a Greek term that specifically means “virgin”.
7:14 Like many prophecies, this one seems to have had an early fulfillment (in the days of Ahaz) and later, complete fulfillment (in the First Advent of Christ). Verse 14 points irresistibly to Christ—the Son of the virgin whose name indicates that He is Immanuel, God-with-us. Again we quote Vine:
“Behold”, in Isaiah, always introduces something relating to future circumstances. The choice of the word almah is significant, as distinct from bethulah (a maiden living with her parents and whose marriage was not impending); it denotes one who is mature and ready for marriage.
Ver. 14. Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign.—God’s sign to King Ahaz:—
Perhaps more perplexity has been produced among commentators by this passage than by any other in Old Testament prophecy. The chief difficulties of the passage may be stated as follows: Does the prophecy refer to some event which was soon to occur, or does it refer exclusively to some event in the distant future? If it refers to some event which was soon to occur, what event was it? Who was the child intended, and who the virgin who should bring forth the child?
1. The first step toward the unravelling of the prophet’s meaning is to determine the exact significance of the words. What, then, is the meaning of the word אוֹת, which is translated “sign”? Delitzsch defines the word as “a thing, event, or act which may serve to guarantee the Divine certainty of some other thing, event, or act.” It does not of necessity denote a miracle. For example, in Gen. 17:11, circumcision is said to be a “sign,” or token. The context, together with the nature of the thing, event, or act, must decide whether the אוֹת is a miracle or not. All that is necessary to constitute a “sign” to Ahaz is that some assurance shall be given which Jehovah alone can give. And the certain prediction of future events is the prerogative of Jehovah alone.
2. We turn now to the word עַלְמָה, translated “virgin” and shall try to find its exact meaning. The derivation of it from עָלַם, to hide, to conceal, is now generally abandoned. Its most probable derivation is from עָלַם, to grow, to be strong, and hence the word means one who has come to a mature or marriageable age. Hengstenberg contends that it means one in an unmarried state; Gesenius holds that it means simply being of marriageable age, the age of puberty. However this may be, it seems most natural to take the word in this place as meaning one who was then unmarried and who could be called a virgin. But we must guard against the exegetical error of supposing that the word here used implies that the person spoken of must be a virgin at the time when the child is born. All that is said is that she who is now a virgin shall bear a son.
3. Let us now proceed to consider the interpretation of the prophecy itself. The opinions which have generally prevailed with regard to it are three—
(1) That it has no reference to any Messianic fulfilment, but refers exclusively to some event in the time of the prophet.
(2) That it has exclusive and immediate reference to the Messiah, thus excluding any reference to any event which was then to occur. On this view, the future birth of the Messiah from a virgin is made the sign to Ahaz that Jerusalem shall be safe from a threatened invasion
(3) That the prophet is speaking of the birth of a child which would soon take place of some one who was then a virgin; but that the prophecy has also a higher fulfilment in Christ. This last view we regard as the only tenable one, and the proof of it will be the refutation of the other two. The following reasons are presented to show that the prophecy refers to some event which was soon to occur.
1. The context demands it. If there was no allusion in the New Testament to the prophecy, and we should contemplate the narrative here in its surrounding circumstances, we should naturally feel that the prophet must mean this. If the seventh and eighth chapters, connected as they are, were all that we had, we should be compelled to admit a reference to something in the prophet’s time. The record in chap. 8:1–4, following in such close connection, seems to be intended as a public assurance of the fulfilment of what is here predicted respecting the deliverance of the land from the threatened invasion. The prediction was that she who is a virgin shall bear a son. Now Jehovah alone can foreknow this, and He pronounces the birth of this child as the sign which shall be given.
2. The thing to be given to Ahaz was a sign or token that a present danger would be averted. How could the fact that the Messiah would come seven hundred years later prove this?
Let us now look at the reasons for believing that it contains also a reference to the Messiah.
1. The first argument we present is derived from the passage in chap. 9:7. There is an undoubted connection between that passage and the one under consideration, as almost all critical scholars admit. And it seems that nothing short of a Messianic reference will explain the words. Some have asserted that the undoubted and exclusive reference to Messiah in this verse (9:7) excludes any local reference in the prophecy in chap. 7:14. But so far from this being the case, we believe it is an instance of what Bacon calls the “springing, germinant fulfilment of prophecy.” And we believe that it can be proved that all prophecies take their start from historical facts. Isaiah here (9:7) drops the historical drapery and rises to a mightier and more majestic strain.
2. The second and crowning argument is taken from the language of the inspired writer Matthew (1:22, 23). (D. M. Sweets.)
Who was the “virgin,” and who the son?—
1. Some have supposed that the wife of Ahaz was meant by the “virgin,” and that his son Hezekiah was the child meant. There is an insuperable difficulty against this view. Ahaz’s reign extended over sixteen years (2 Kings 16:2), and Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he succeeded Ahaz (2 Kings 18:2). Consequently, at this time Hezekiah could not have been less than nine years old. It has been supposed that Ahaz had a second wife, and that the son was hers. This is a mere supposition, supported by nothing in the narrative, while it makes chap. 8:1–4 have no connection with what precedes or follows.
2. Others have supposed that some virgin who was then present before Ahaz was designated, and they make the meaning this: “As surely as this virgin shall conceive and bear a son, so surely shall the land be forsaken of its kings.” This is too vague for the definite language used, and gives no explanation of the incident in chap. 8 about Maher-shalal-hash-baz.
3. Another opinion is that the virgin was not an actual but an ideal virgin. Michaelis thus presents this view: “By the time when one who is yet a virgin can bring forth (i.e., in nine months), all will be happily changed and the present impending danger so completely passed away that if you were to name the child you would call him Immanuel.” Surely this would not be a sign or pledge of anything to Ahaz. Besides, it was not a birth possible, but an actual birth, which was spoken of.
4. But the view which is most in keeping with the entire context, and which presents the fewest difficulties, is that the prophet’s own son is intended. This view does require the supposition that Isaiah married a second wife, who at the time of this prophecy was still a virgin, and whom he subsequently married. But there is no improbability in the supposition that the mother of his son, Shear-jashub, was deceased, and that Isaiah was about again to be married. This is the only supposition which this view demands. Such an occurrence was surely not uncommon. All other explanations require more suppositions, and suppositions more unnatural than this. Our supposition does no violence to the narrative, and certainly falls in best with all the facts. We would then identify Immanuel (as Ahaz and his contemporaries would understand the name to be applied) with Maher-shalal-hash-baz. With this view harmonises what the prophet says in chap. 8:18: “Behold, I and the children whom Jehovah hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion.” It is no objection to this view that another name than “Immanuel” was given to the child. It was a common thing to give two names to children, especially when one name was symbolic, as Immanuel was. Jesus Christ was never called Immanuel as a proper name, though almost all scholars agree that the prophecy referred to Him in some sense. (Ibid.)
A double reference in Isaiah’s prophecies:—
The careful, critical student of Isaiah will find this thing common in his writings, namely, that he commences with a prophecy having reference to some remarkable delivery which was soon to occur, and terminates it by a statement of events connected with a higher deliverance under the Messiah. His mind becomes absorbed; the primary object is forgotten in the contemplation of the more remote and glorious event. (Ibid.)
The Hebrew word rendered “virgin” in the A.V. would be more accurately rendered “damsel.” It means a young woman of marriageable age, and is not the word which would be naturally used for “virgin,” if that was the point which it was desired to emphasise. (Prof. A. F. Kirkpatrick.)
Our English word “maiden” comes as near, probably, as any to the Hebrew word. (Speaker’s Commentary.)
The Hebrew lexicons tell us that the word almah, here translated virgin, may denote any mature young woman, whether a virgin or not. So far as its derivation is concerned, this is undoubtedly the case; but in Biblical usage, the word denotes a virgin in every case where its meaning can be determined. The instances are, besides the text, that in the account of Rebekah (Gen. 24:43), that of the sister of Moses (Exod. 2:8), the word used in the plural (Psa. 68:25, 26; Cant. 1:3; 6:8), its use in the titles of Psalms (Psa. 46:1–11; 1 Chron. 15:20), and its use in Prov. 30:19. The last passage is the one chiefly relied on to prove that the word may denote a woman not a virgin; but, “the way of a man with a maid” there spoken of is something wonderful, incapable of being traced or understood, like the way of an eagle in the air, a serpent on a rock, a ship in the sea, and it is only in its application to that wonderful human experience, a first love between a man and a virgin, that this description can find a full and complete significance. The use of the word in the Bible may not be full enough in itself to prove that almah necessarily means virgin, but it is sufficient to show that Septuagint translators probably chose deliberately and correctly, when they chose to translate the word, in this passage, by the Greek word that distinctively denotes a virgin, and that Matthew made no mistake in so understanding their translation. (Prof. W. J. Beecher, D.D.)
Deliverance by a lowly agent:—
Not Ahaz, not some high-born son of Ahaz’s house, is to have the honour of rescuing his country from its peril: a “nameless maiden of lowly rank” (Delitzsch) is to be the mother of the future deliverer. Ahaz and the royal house are thus put aside; it is not till chap. 9:7—spoken at least a year subsequently—that we are able to gather that the Deliverer is to be a descendant of David’s line. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)
God’s sign to Ahaz:—
The king having refused to ask a sign, the prophet gives him one, by renewing the promise of deliverance (vers. 8, 9), and connecting it with the birth of a child, whose significant name is made a symbol of the Divine interposition, and his progress a measure of the subsequent events. Instead of saying that God would be present with them to deliver them, he says the child shall be called Immanuel (God with us); instead of mentioning a term of years, he says, before the child is able to distinguish good from evil; instead of saying that until that time the land shall lie waste, he represents the child as eating curds and honey, spontaneous products, here put in opposition to the fruits of cultivation. At the same time, the form of expression is descriptive. Instead of saying that the child shall experience all this, he represents its birth and infancy as actually passing in his sight; he sees the child brought forth and named Immanuel; he sees the child eating curds and honey till a certain age. But very different opinions are held as to the child here alluded to. Some think it must be a child about to be born, in the course of nature, to the prophet himself. Others think that two distinct births are referred to, one that of Shear-jashub, the prophet’s son, and the other Christ, the Virgin’s Son. Yet others see only a prophetic reference to the birth of Messiah. (J. A. Alexander.)
A prediction of the miraculous conception of Jesus Christ:—
While some diversity of judgment ought to be expected and allowed, in relation to the secondary question (of the child of the period that is referred to), there is no ground, grammatical, historical, or logical, for doubt as to the main point, that the Church in all ages has been right in regarding this passage as a signal and explicit prediction of the miraculous conception and nativity of Jesus Christ. (Ibid.)
The figure of Immanuel an ideal one:—
The language of Isaiah forces upon us the conviction that the figure of Immanuel is an ideal one, projected by him upon the shifting future—upon the nearer future in chap. 7, upon the remoter future in chap. 9, but grasped by the prophet as a living and real personality, the guardian of his country now, its deliverer and governor hereafter. The circumstances under which the announcement is made to Ahaz are such as apparently exclude deliberation in the formation of the idea; it is the unpremeditated creation of his inspired imagination. This view satisfies all the requirements of the narrative. The birth of the child being conceived as immediate affords a substantial ground for the assurance conveyed to Ahaz; and the royal attributes with which the child speedily appears to be endued, and which forbid his identification with any actual contemporary of the prophet’s, become at once intelligible. It is the Messianic King, whose portrait is here for the first time in the Old Testament sketched directly. (Prof. S. R. Driver, D.D.)
Immanuel, the Messiah:—
It is the Messiah whom the prophet here beholds as about to be born, then in chap. 9 as born, and in chap. 11 as reigning. (F. Delitzsch.)
What sign could the distant birth of Christ be to Ahaz?—
The answer is plain, as evidenced by the prophet turning away from the king who repudiated his privileges to the “house of David,” to which in all its generations the promise was given. The king was endeavouring to bring about the destruction of “the land,” but his efforts in that direction would be useless until the destiny of the house of David was fulfilled. The virgin must bear the promised Son; Judah is immortal till that event is accomplished. It matters not whether it is near or far, the family and lineage of David must survive till then. Hence the sign was plain enough, or ought to have been, to Ahaz and the people in general. The closing portion of this section of Scripture fully discloses the destruction that should befall Judah as well as Israel, but the final fall of Judah is after the birth of Immanuel. (F. T. Bassett, M.A.)
The virgin mother:—
To maintain that Isaiah did not mean to say that a certain Person in the future was to be born of a virgin, is not the same thing as to hold that Christ was not so born as a fact. (F. H. Woods, B.D.)
The mystery of the sign:—
The “sign” is on the one side a mystery staring threateningly at the house of David, and on the other side it is a mystery rich in comfort to the prophet and all believers; and it is couched in such enigmatic terms in order that they who harden themselves may not understand it, and in order that believers may so much the more long to understand it. (F. Delitzsch.)
A new thing in the earth (vers. 10–16):—
I. The pledge proposed.
1. The condescension which God displayed on this occasion was very remarkable.
2. There may be a semblance of regard for the honour of God, while the heart is in a state of hostility against Him.
3. God may sustain a certain relationship to those who are not His in reality.
II. The indignant rebuke administered. (Ver. 13.)
1. The persons to whom it was addressed. Not the king only, but the whole nation; which shows that they, or a large portion of them, were like-minded with their ungodly ruler. They are called “the house of David,” a designation which was doubtless intended to remind them of his character, and the great things which God had done for him. Well would it have been if he by whom David’s throne was now occupied had been imbued with David’s spirit, and walked in David’s ways; and that his influence had been exerted in inducing his subjects to do so likewise.
2. The feeling by which it was prompted. It was evidently that of holy indignation.
3. The grounds on which it rested. There were two things especially by which God was dishonoured on this occasion.
(1) Unbelief. Nothing casts a greater indignity upon the Divine character than for His word to be distrusted.
(2) Hypocrisy. Far better to bid open defiance to the Most High, and say with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?” than pretend to serve Him while we are resolved to act in opposition to His will.
III. The glorious event predicted. As to this striking prediction, in itself considered, there are several particulars which it sets before us—
1. The miraculous conception of Christ.
2. The essential Deity of Christ.
3. The design of the coming of Christ. For Him to be called “Immanuel, God with us,” shows that He appeared to espouse our cause.
4. The lowly condition of Christ. “Butter and honey shall He eat,” &c.
5. The moral purity of Christ. Although the expression, “before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” has literal reference to His attaining the age of discernment, yet it may be applied with special propriety to the spotless sanctity of His character. He knew, in a sense in which no one else ever knew, how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Anon.)
The birth of Christ:—
I. The birth of Christ.
1. We see here a miraculous conception.
2. Notice next, the humble parentage. Though she was not a princess, yet her name, Mary, by interpretation, signifies a princess; and though she is not the queen of heaven, yet she has a right to be reckoned amongst the queens of earth; and though she is not the lady of our Lord, she does walk amongst the renowned and mighty women of Scripture. Yet Jesus Christ’s birth was a humble one. Strange that the Lord of glory was not born in a palace! Let us take courage here. If Jesus Christ was born in a manger in a rock, why should He not come and live in our rocky hearts? If He was born in a stable, why should not the stable of our souls be made into a habitation for Him? If He was born in poverty, may not the poor in spirit expect that He will be their Friend?
3. We must make one more remark upon this birth of Christ, and that remark shall be concerning a glorious birthday. With all the humility that surrounded the birth of Christ, there was yet very much that was glorious, very much that was honourable. No other man ever had such a birthday as Jesus Christ had. Of whom had prophets and seers ever written as they wrote of Him? Whose name is graven on so many tablets as His? Who had such a scroll of prophecy, all pointing to Him as Jesus Christ, the God-man? Then recollect, concerning His birth, when did God ever hang a fresh lamp in the sky to announce the birth of a Cæsar? Cæsars may come, and they may die, but stars shall never prophesy their birth. When did angels ever stoop from heaven, and sing choral symphonies on the birth of a mighty man? Christ’s birth is not despicable, even if we consider the visitors who came around His cradle.
II. The food of Christ. “Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Our translators were certainly very good scholars, and God gave them much wisdom, so that they craned up our language to the majesty of the original, but here they were guilty of very great inconsistency. I do not see how butter and honey can make a child choose good, and refuse evil. If it is so, I am sure butter and honey ought to go up greatly in price, for good men are very much required. But it does not say, in the original, “Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” but, “Butter and honey shall He eat, till He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good,” or, better still, “Butter and honey shall He eat, when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” We shall take that translation, and just try to elucidate the meaning couched in the words. They should teach us—
1. Christ’s proper humanity. When He would convince His disciples that He was flesh, and not spirit, He took a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and ate as others did.
2. The butter and honey teach us, again, that Christ was to be born in times of peace. Such products are not found in Judea in times of strife; the ravages of war sweep away all the fair fruits of industry.
3. There is another thought here. “Butter and honey shall He eat when He shall know how to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” This is to teach us the precocity of Christ, by which I mean that, even when He was a child, even when He lived upon butter and honey, which is the food of children, He knew the evil from the good.
4. Perhaps it may seem somewhat playful, but I must say how sweet it is to my soul to believe that, as Christ lived upon butter and honey, surely butter and honey drop from His lips. Sweet are His words unto our souls, more to be desired than honey or the honeycomb.
5. And perhaps I ought not to have forgotten to say, that the effect of Christ’s eating butter and honey was to show us that He would not in His lifetime differ from other men in His outward guise. Butter and honey Christ ate, and butter and honey may His people eat; nay, whatsoever God in His providence gives unto them, that is to be the food of the child Christ.
III. The name of Christ. “And shall call His name Immanuel.”
1. The Virgin Mary called her son Immanuel that there might be a meaning in His name.
2. Would you know this name most sweetly you must know it by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The responsibility of revelation:—
1. This annunciation to Ahaz was a great opportunity for him—a crisis in his spiritual life. He was getting entangled in idolatrous ways, involved in disloyal relations with the Assyrian monarchy, and had already seriously compromised himself in sacrilegious appropriation of temple treasure. And here was a golden opportunity to break through his bonds, and cast himself loose, once for all, from his unworthy associations. He was only asked to trust on for a little while longer, to watch events, and, as they fell out in a certain direction, to recognise that they were of God’s special ordering, and that they constituted a claim on his obedience and trust in God. But he was incapable of profiting by God’s goodwill towards him. He rejected the Divine overtures of prosperity and peace; and, while God still carried out the dictates of His purpose, they came to Ahaz without blessing and without relief. His enemies were removed, but a direr foe stood in their place; he could not but learn that God was faithful, but the word that he compelled God to keep was a word of retribution.
2. And if we were capable of the combined mental and spiritual effort that such a course would require, and were to sit down calmly and without prejudice to dissect our past lives, and with unerring judgment were to separate cause from effect in every case, and to trace each important issue of life to its true turning-point, how often, probably, should we find that the unsatisfactory features of the past were largely due to our neglect of some revelation—some annunciation—of God! By experience, by example, by warning, by discipline; by difficulties significantly placed in our path, or by clearances unexpectedly but unmistakably made; by words in season, out of season; by a thousand things, and in countless ways, we have had annunciations from God—plain indications of His will and pleasure concerning us, and no indistinct prophecies of things that shall be hereafter. And our judgment upon a review of the whole is this—that our true happiness and our genuine success have been in very exact proportion to our faithfulness or our unfaithfulness in reading the signs of God. (E. T. Marshall, M.A.)
The mercy of God:—
The first word of this text joins the anger of God and His mercy together. God chides and rebukes the king Ahaz by the prophet; He is angry with him, and “therefore” He will give him a sign—a seal of mercy.
I. God takes any occasion to show mercy.
II. The particular way of His mercy declared here. “The Lord shall give you a sign.”
III. What this sign was. “Behold a virgin,” &c. (J. Donne.)
Miracle of miracles:—
King Ahaz saith, I will not tempt God, and, making religion his pretence against religion, being a most wilful and wicked man, would not. We may learn by this wretched king that those that are least fearful before danger are most basely fearful in danger (ver. 2). We may see the conflict between the infinite goodness of God and the inflexible stubbornness of man; God’s goodness striving with man’s badness. When they would have no sign, yet God will give them a sign. “Behold.”
(1) As a thing presented to the eye of faith.
(2) As a matter of great concernment.
(3) As a strange and admirable thing. It is atheistical profaneness to despise any help that God in His wisdom thinketh necessary to support our weak faith withal. The house of David was afraid they should be extinct by these two great enemies of the Church; but, saith Isaiah, “A virgin of the house of David shall conceive a son,” and how then can the house of David be extinct? Heaven hath said it; earth cannot disannul it. God hath said it, and all the creatures in the world cannot annihilate it. How doth friendship between God and us arise from hence, that Christ is God in our nature?
1. Sin, the cause of division, is taken away.
2. Our nature is pure in Christ, and therefore in Christ God loveth us.
3. Christ being our head of influence conveyeth the same Spirit that is in Him to all His members, and, little by little, by that Spirit, purgeth His Church and maketh her fit for communion with Himself.
4. The second person is God in our nature for this end, to make God and us friends. (R. Sibbes.)
Christ in prophecy:—
You will find that the presence of one Person pervades the whole book If you go into a British navy-yard, or on board a British vessel, and pick up a piece of rope, you will find that there is one little red thread which runs through the whole of it—through every foot of cordage which belongs to the British government; so, if a piece of rope is stolen, it may be cut into inch pieces, but every piece has the mark which tells where it belongs. It is so with the Bible. You may separate it into a thousand parts, and yet you will find one thought—one great fact running through the whole of it. You will find it constantly pointing and referring to one great Personage. Around this one mighty Personage this whole book revolves. “To Him give all the prophets witness.” (H. L. Hastings.)
The three names taken together would mean this—the Assyrians would spoil the countries of Syria and Ephraim, and though they would threaten Judah, God would be with His people, and save them, and so a remnant would be left which would return at once to religious faith and to national prosperity. For these two last are almost always associated in the prophet’s view. (F. H. Woods, B.D.)
A prophecy of the Messiah:—
When Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Jews saw quite clearly that this was indeed nothing less than the claim to be Divine, and they cried out that this was blasphemy. And what was His reply? Jesus reminded His hearers that the earliest judges and leaders of the people of Israel, as testified by the language of their Scriptures, had been called gods. “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken; say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” The judges and rulers of the early days of Israel had been called gods because their office and function was just this—to represent God on earth to men, to reflect His character, and do His will, and lead His people. They often failed to do this because they were merely human. In some cases they were false to their trust, and then God’s vengeance overtook them. Yet they pointed to that one far-off Divine event when One who should perfectly fulfil that name was to interpose for the world’s deliverance. And thus, just as the implied prophecy in calling men gods was to be one day fulfilled, so the prophecy of Isaiah before us was also a prophecy of that same later far-off event, when one who was in every sense “God with us” should come to satisfy the needs and the longings of the human heart. (Canon Ainger.)
Immanuel, the Sympathiser:—
“God with us.” This means omnipotence with us, omniscience with us, perfection with us, and the love that never fails. Some of us, perhaps, have tried, in conformity with the passion for getting rid of the supernatural that marks the latest struggle of the scientific world, to construct a new religion out of the old, in which the same pathetic and lovely figure as before shall be placed beside us for our example, but from whom the aureole of Deity has been taken away; they have been trying to find all that life needs in the presence only of a fellow-man, however superior to ourselves in holiness and purity. There are moments in our lives when we feel ourselves face to face with sin, in the presence of sorrow or of death from which no man can deliver us. In the sad hours of your life, it has been said, the recollection of that Man you read of in your childhood, the Man of sorrows, the great Sympathiser with human woes and sufferings, rises up before you. I know it is a reality for you then, for you feel it to be not only beautiful but true. In such moments does it seem to you as if Christ were merely a person who eighteen hundred years ago made certain journeying between Judea and Galilee? Can such a recollection fill up the blank which some present grief, the loss of some friend, has made in your heart? It does not. It never did this for you or for anyone. But the comfort that came to you from the thought of Him may be safely trusted not to betray you, for that voice that came to you in your anguish says, “You may trust Me, you may lean upon Me, for I know all things in heaven and earth. I and My Father are one.” (Ibid.)
Nature, God, and Jesus are words often used to designate the same power or being, but are suggestive of very different associations. The word “nature” veils from our view the glory of the Godhead, and removes His personality from our consciousness. It removes the Deity to a distance from us, but Jesus, the newer and better name, the latest revelation, brings Him nearer to us. The associations of the name Jesus, as a name of God, are most tender and endearing. Jesus does not remind us of blind power or unfeeling skill, as the word nature does; nor yet of overwhelming greatness, distant force and vast intelligence, the conception of which strains our faculties, and the realisation of which crushes our power, as the word God does. The name of Jesus reminds us chiefly of sympathy, kindheartedness, brotherly tenderness, and one-ness with ourselves. The word God presents a picture of the Deity to the mind, in which those attributes of the Divine character which are in themselves most removed from us, occupy the most prominent position, and are bathed with a flood of light, while those features of character, by which the Divine Spirit touches the delicate chords of human affections, are dimly seen amid the darkening shadows of the background. The picture is reversed in Jesus. The great attributes are buried in the light of love, as the stars are covered by the light of day. (Evan Lewis, B.A.)
“Immanuel,” a stimulus to the prophet himself:—
Isaiah may have meant the Name to speak to him as well as to the nation. He may have desired to bring the message of the Name into his personal and family life. For, after all, a prophet is but a man of like passions with ourselves, subject to the same infirmities and fluctuations of spirit, “warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer.” There were times, no doubt, when even Isaiah lost faith in his own function, in his own message, when the very man who had assured a sinful nation that God was with them could hardly believe that God was with him, or could even cry out, “Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man!” And in such moments as these, when, weary of the world and weary of himself, he lost courage and hope, he may have felt that it would be well for him to have that in his very household which would help to recall the truths he had recognised and taught in hours of clearer insight, help to restore the faith with which he had first sprung up to greet the Divine message. We may believe that there were many darkened hours in his experience, hours of broken faith and defeated hope, when he would fall back on his earlier faith and brighter hopes; when he would call his little son to him, and, as he fondled him, would repeat his name, Immanuel, Immanuel—God-with-us, God-with-us,—and find in that Name a charm potent to restore his waning trust in the gracious presence and gracious will of Jehovah. (“Niger” in Expositor.)
The child Immanuel:—
Isaiah may have felt, as we feel, that God is with a little child in quite another sense, in a more pathetic sense, than He is with grown men. To him, as to us, their innocence, their loveliness, and, above all, their love, may have been the most exquisite revelation of the purity and love of God. “Heaven lies about their infancy”; and in this heaven the prophet may often have taken refuge from his cares, despondencies, and fears. Every child born into the world brings this message to us, reminds us that God is with us indeed and of a truth; for whence did this new, pure, tender life come if not from the central Fountain of life and purity and love? And from this point of view Isaiah’s “Immanuel” is but the ancient analogue of our Lord’s tender words: “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Ibid.)
The text is a prophecy of the Messiah (Matt. 1:23).
I. The circumstances under which it was spoken.
II. Its fulfilment. For more than seven hundred years devout Jews waited for the Divinely predicted sign. Then came the day which Christmas commemorates.
III. Its practical import. To Christians this prophecy is significant of those blessings which are pledged to us in Christ. In Him we have the assurance of God being—
1. With us in the sense of on our side. Nature shows us God as above us; law shows us God as against us, because we have made ourselves His enemies; but the Gospel shows us God with us to defend us from the power of sin and to deliver us from the penalty of sin.
2. With us in the sense of in our nature. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”; became one of ourselves, shared with us—
(1) The trials of a human life;
(2) The temptations which assail us;
(3) The penalty of sin—death of the body, the hiding of God’s countenance. And so in Christ Jesus we have the pledge of the three cardinal blessings of all Divine revelation—
(a) The Divine sympathy, because He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
(b) The Divine salvation, because He has “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
(c) The Divine succour, because He “ever liveth to make intercession” for us; and His parting word to His Church is, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” (T. H. Barnett.)
God with us, though His presence is not always realised:—
Professor Tyndall has told us how, as he wandered through the higher Alpine pastures in the earlier months of the present summer (1879), he was often surprised to find at evening lovely flowers in full bloom where in the morning he had seen only a wide thin sheet of snow. Struck with the strange phenomenon, unable to believe that a few hours of even the most fervent sunshine had drawn these exquisite flowers to their full maturity, he carefully scraped away the snow from a few inches of pasture and examined the plants that were growing beneath it. And, to his surprise and delight, he found that the powers of life had been with them even while they seemed wrapped in death; that the sun had reached them through the snow; that the snow itself had both held down the rising warmth of the earth upon them, and sheltered them from the cold biting winds which might else have destroyed them. There they stood, each full grown, every flower maturely developed, though the green calyx was carefully folded over the delicately coloured petals; and no sooner was the snow removed, no sooner did the rays of the sun touch the green enfolding calyx, than it opened and revealed the perfect beauty it had shrouded and preserved. And so, doubtless, we shall one day find that God, our Sun, has been with us even during the winter of our self-discontent, all through the hours of apparent failure and inertness, quickening in us a life of which we gave but little sign, maturing and making us perfect by the things we suffered; so that when the hindering veils are withdrawn, and the full light of His love shines upon us, at that gracious touch we too may disclose a beauty of which we had not dreamed, and of which for long we gave no promise. (“Niger” in Expositor.)
Life’s best amulet:—
A Mohammedan negro in Africa was once taken prisoner in war. He wore suspended around his neck an amulet or charm. When this was taken from him he became almost frenzied with grief, and begged that it be returned to him He was willing to sacrifice his right hand for it. It was his peculiar treasure, which he valued as life itself. It was a very simple affair—a little leather case enclosing a slip of paper on which was inscribed in Arabic characters one word—“God.” He believed that the wearing of this charm secured for him a blessed immunity from ill. When it was returned to him he was so overjoyed that the tears streamed from his eyes, and falling to the ground he kissed the feet of the man who restored to him his treasure. That poor negro had but the bare name—we have God! Not a distant monarch seated lonesomely away from any human voice or footstep. There is one name that ought to be dearest of all to every Christian—“Immanuel.” It means not a Deity remote or hidden, but “God with us.” (Christian Endeavour.)
God with us:—
An old poet has represented the Son of God as having the stars for His crown, the sky for His azure mantle, the clouds for His bow, and the fire for His spear. He rode forth in His majestic robes of glory, but one day resolved to alight on the earth, and descended, undressing Himself on the way. When asked what He would wear, He replied, with a smile, “that He had new clothes making down below.” (Gates of Imagery.)
14. Against the background of divine exasperation (13) and the change from ‘your God’, therefore draws a conclusion: the sign he proposes is no longer a movement of grace opening a door of faith to the king (10) but a movement of displeasure spelling out the dire result of his faithlessness. But can the sign itself be of less magnitude than the promise to ‘move heaven and earth’ (11), especially since its giver is the Lord himself (’ǎdōnāy, ‘the Sovereign One’)? The virgin (hā‘almâ): it is widely urged that, had Isaiah intended virgo intacta (as Matt. 1:23, 25 understood him to mean), he would not have used ‘almâ but bĕtûlâ and that, by using ‘almâ, he meant no more than a ‘young woman’ who, since she was to become pregnant, must charitably be assumed to be married. But it is argued here that Isaiah did indeed intend virgo intacta (see Additional note, pp. 90–91).
Be with child … give birth: cf. Genesis 16:11; Judges 13:5. The expression is ‘timeless’, with the context deciding in each case. Immanuel: ‘God with us’ (niv mg.). The case for expecting a divine Messiah is strong in the Old Testament and was, in fact, Jesus’ understanding (Matt. 22:41–45). It is clear that at some point the expectations originating in 2 Samuel 7 developed into the hope of a perfect King who would reign universally for ever (9:7) and who would be both son of David and Son of God (see on 4:2; Pss 2:7; 45:6; cf. Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4; Heb. 1:5; 5:5). The view that the ‘almâ means, collectively, the young marrieds of Judah, who in the coming troubles would either express faith by naming their sons ‘God is with us’ or voice prayer by naming them ‘God be with us’, must surely be doubted. The you (pl.) to whom the Sovereign One gives this sign is the ‘house of David’, represented by Ahaz. In what sense would a rash of little Immanuels, which Ahaz would dismiss as women’s hysteria, constitute a heaven-sent sign, matching the momentousness of this passage, or prepare for the developing Immanuel-theme through 8:8 into 9:6?
14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Ahaz had already refused the sign which the Lord offered to him, when the Prophet remonstrated against his rebellion and ingratitude; yet the Prophet declares that this will not prevent God from giving the sign which he had promised and appointed for the Jews. But what sign?
Behold, a virgin shall conceive. This passage is obscure; but the blame lies partly on the Jews, who, by much cavilling, have laboured, as far as lay in their power, to pervert the true exposition. They are hard pressed by this passage; for it contains an illustrious prediction concerning the Messiah, who is here called Immanuel; and therefore they have laboured, by all possible means, to torture the Prophet’s meaning to another sense. Some allege that the person here mentioned is Hezekiah; and others, that it is the son of Isaiah.
Those who apply this passage to Hezekiah are excessively impudent; for he must have been a full-grown man when Jerusalem was besieged. Thus they show that they are grossly ignorant of history. But it is a just reward of their malice, that God hath blinded them in such a manner as to be deprived of all judgment. This happens in the present day to the papists, who often expose themselves to ridicule by their mad eagerness to pervert the Scriptures.
As to those who think that it was Isaiah’s son, it is an utterly frivolous conjecture; for we do not read that a deliverer would be raised up from the seed of Isaiah, who should be called Immanuel; for this title is far too illustrious to admit of being applied to any man.
Others think, or, at least, (being unwilling to contend with the Jews more than was necessary,) admit that the Prophet spoke of some child who was born at that time, by whom, as by an obscure picture, Christ was foreshadowed. But they produce no strong arguments, and do not show who that child was, or bring forward any proofs. Now, it is certain, as we have already said, that this name Immanuel could not be literally applied to a mere man; and, therefore, there can be no doubt that the Prophet referred to Christ.
But all writers, both Greek and Latin, are too much at their ease in handling this passage; for, as if there were no difficulty in it, they merely assert that Christ is here promised from the Virgin Mary. Now, there is no small difficulty in the objection which the Jews bring against us, that Christ is here mentioned without any sufficient reason; for thus they argue, and demand that the scope of the passage be examined: “Jerusalem was besieged. The Prophet was about to give them a sign of deliverance. Why should he promise the Messiah, who was to be born five hundred years afterwards?” By this argument they think that they have gained the victory, because the promise concerning Christ had nothing to do with assuring Ahaz of the deliverance of Jerusalem. And then they boast as if they had gained the day, chiefly because scarcely any one replies to them. That is the reason why I said that commentators have been too much at their ease in this matter; for it is of no small importance to show why the Redeemer is here mentioned.
Now, the matter stands thus. King Ahaz having rejected the sign which God had offered to him, the Prophet reminds him of the foundation of the covenant, which even the ungodly did not venture openly to reject. The Messiah must be born; and this was expected by all, because the salvation of the whole nation depended on it. The Prophet, therefore, after having expressed his indignation against the king, again argues in this manner: “By rejecting the promise, thou wouldest endeavour to overturn the decree of God; but it shall remain inviolable, and thy treachery and ingratitude will not hinder God from being continually the Deliverer of his people; for he will at length raise up his Messiah.”
To make these things more plain, we must attend to the custom of the Prophets, who, in establishing special promises, lay down this as the foundation, that God will send a Redeemer. On this general foundation God everywhere builds all the special promises which he makes to his people; and certainly every one who expects aid and assistance from him must be convinced of his fatherly love. And how could he be reconciled to us but through Christ, in whom he has freely adopted the elect, and continues to pardon them to the end? Hence comes that saying of Paul, that all the promises of God in Christ are Yea and Amen. (2 Cor. 1:20.) Whenever, therefore, God assisted his ancient people, he at the same time reconciled them to himself through Christ; and accordingly, whenever famine, pestilence, and war are mentioned, in order to hold out a hope of deliverance, he places the Messiah before their eyes. This being exceedingly clear, the Jews have no right to make a noise, as if the Prophet made an unseasonable transition to a very remote subject. For on what did the deliverance of Jerusalem depend, but on the manifestation of Christ? This was, indeed, the only foundation on which the salvation of the Church always rested.
Most appropriately, therefore, did Isaiah say, “True, thou dost not believe the promises of God, but yet God will fulfil them; for he will at length send his Christ, for whose sake he determines to preserve this city. Though thou art unworthy, yet God will have regard to his own honour.” King Ahaz is therefore deprived of that sign which he formerly rejected, and loses the benefit of which he proved himself to be unworthy; but still God’s inviolable promise is still held out to him. This is plainly enough intimated by the particle לכן, (lāchēn,) therefore; that is, because thou disdainest that particular sign which God offered to thee, הוא, (hū,) He, that is, God himself, who was so gracious as to offer it freely to thee, he whom thou weariest will not fail to hold out a sign. When I say that the coming of Christ is promised to Ahaz, I do not mean that God includes him among the chosen people, to whom he had appointed his Son to be the Author of salvation; but because the discourse is directed to the whole body of the people.
Will give you a sign. The word לכם, (lāchĕm,) to you, is interpreted by some as meaning to your children; but this is forced. So far as relates to the persons addressed, the Prophet leaves the wicked king and looks to the nation, so far as it had been adopted by God. He will therefore give, not to thee a wicked king, and to those who are like thee, but to you whom he has adopted; for the covenant which he made with Abraham continues to be firm and inviolable. And the Lord always has some remnant to whom the advantage of the covenant belongs; though the rulers and governors of his people may be hypocrites.
Behold, a virgin shall conceive. The word Behold is used emphatically, to denote the greatness of the event; for this is the manner in which the Spirit usually speaks of great and remarkable events, in order to elevate the minds of men. The Prophet, therefore, enjoins his hearers to be attentive, and to consider this extraordinary work of God; as if he had said, “Be not slothful, but consider this singular grace of God, which ought of itself to have drawn your attention, but is concealed from you on account of your stupidity.”
Although the word עלמה, (gnălmāh,) a virgin, is derived from עלם, (gnālăm,) which signifies to hide, because the shame and modesty of virgins does not allow them to appear in public; yet as the Jews dispute much about that word, and assert that it does not signify virgin, because Solomon used it to denote a young woman who was betrothed, it is unnecessary to contend about the word. Though we should admit what they say, that עלמה (gnălmāh) sometimes denotes a young woman, and that the name refers, as they would have it, to the age, (yet it is frequently used in Scripture when the subject relates to a virgin,) the nature of the case sufficiently refutes all their slanders. For what wonderful thing did the Prophet say, if he spoke of a young woman who conceived through intercourse with a man? It would certainly have been absurd to hold out this as a sign or a miracle. Let us suppose that it denotes a young woman who should become pregnant in the ordinary course of nature; everybody sees that it would have been silly and contemptible for the Prophet, after having said that he was about to speak of something strange and uncommon, to add, A young woman shall conceive. It is, therefore, plain enough that he speaks of a virgin who should conceive, not by the ordinary course of nature, but by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit. And this is the mystery which Paul extolls in lofty terms, that God was manifested in the flesh. (1 Tim. 3:16.)
And shall call. The Hebrew verb is in the feminine gender, She shall call; for as to those who read it in the masculine gender, I know not on what they found their opinion. The copies which we use certainly do not differ. If you apply it to the mother, it certainly expresses something different from the ordinary custom. We know that to the father is always assigned the right of giving a name to a child; for it is a sign of the power and authority of fathers over children; and the same authority does not belong to women. But here it is conveyed to the mother; and therefore it follows that he is conceived by the mother in such a manner as not to have a father on earth; otherwise the Prophet would pervert the ordinary custom of Scripture, which ascribes this office to men only. Yet it ought to be observed that the name was not given to Christ at the suggestion of his mother, and in such a case it would have had no weight; but the Prophet means that, in publishing the name, the virgin will occupy the place of a herald, because there will be no earthly father to perform that office.
Immanuel. This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed himself with our flesh, and united himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us; which cannot apply to a man who is not God. The Jews in their sophistry tell us that this name was given to Hezekiah; because by the hand of Hezekiah God delivered his people; and they add, “He who is the servant of God represents his person.” But neither Moses nor Joshua, who were deliverers of the nation, were so denominated; and therefore this Immanuel is preferred to Moses and Joshua, and all the others; for by this name he excels all that ever were before, and all that shall come after him; and it is a title expressive of some extraordinary excellence and authority which he possesses above others. It is therefore evident that it denotes not only the power of God, such as he usually displays by his servant, but a union of person, by which Christ became God-man. Hence it is also evident that Isaiah here relates no common event, but points out that unparalleled mystery which the Jews labour in vain to conceal.
Ver. 14.—Therefore. To show that your perversity cannot change God’s designs, which will be accomplished, whether you hear or whether you forbear. The Lord himself;i. e. “the Lord himself, of his own free will, unasked.” Will give you a sign. “Signs” were of various kinds. They might be actual miracles performed to attest a Divine commission (Exod. 4:3–9); or judgments of God, significative of his power and justice (Exod. 10:2); or memorials of something in the past (Exod. 13:9, 16); or pledges of something still future. Signs of this last-mentioned kind might be miracles (Judg. 6:36–40; 2 Kings 20:8–11), or prophetic announcements (Exod. 3:12; 1 Sam. 2:34; 2 Kings 19:29). These last would only have the effect of signs on those who witnessed their accomplishment. Behold. “A forewarning of a great event” (Cheyne). A virgin shall conceive. It is questioned whether the word translated “virgin,” viz. ’almah, has necessarily that meaning; but it is admitted that the meaning is borne out by every other place in which the word occurs in the Old Testament (Gen. 24:43; Exod. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Cant. 1:3; 6:8). The LXX., writing two centuries before the birth of Christ, translate by παρθένος. The rendering “virgin” has the support of the best modern Hebraists, as Lowth, Gesenius, Ewald, Delitzsch, Kay. It is observed with reason that unless ’almah is translated “virgin,” there is no announcement made worthy of the grand prelude: “The Lord himself shall give you a sign—Behold!” The Hebrew, however, has not “a virgin,” but “the virgin” (and so the Septuagint, ἡ παρθένος), which points to some special virgin, preeminent above all others. And shall call; better than the marginal rendering, thou shalt call. It was regarded as the privilege of a mother to determine her child’s name (Gen. 4:25; 16:11; 29:32–35; 30:6–13, 18–21, 24; 35:18, etc.), although formally the father gave it (Gen. 16:15; 2 Sam. 12:24; Luke 1:62, 63) Immanuel. Translated for us by St. Matthew (1:23) as “God with us” (μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός). (Comp. ch. 8:8, 10.)
14 If Ahaz will not ask for a sign, God in his sovereignty will give one in any case. It is impossible to ascertain whether this is the sign God intended to give had Ahaz asked, or whether it is especially given in view of Ahaz’s refusal to ask. At any rate, it is the one he receives. As noted above, it confirms Isaiah’s earlier promise (vv. 4–9), but it also confirms the foolishness of not trusting that promise. That the positive side would have applied had Ahaz received the sign in faith lends some weight to the idea that this was the intended sign. Had Ahaz received it in faith, Immanuel would have appeared solely as the vindication of the house of David. As it was, he was to appear as a shame to the house of David: they had not believed, and so received the just result of that unbelief. Nevertheless, God, in faithfulness to his own promise, would raise up from the wreckage a true Son of David.
a maiden shall conceive. It is not possible to be dogmatic as to why Isaiah used the ambiguous ʿalmâ here instead of the unambiguous beṯûlâ. Nor is it clear what meaning should be assigned to ʿalmâ. Typically, the meaning given is “a young woman of marriageable age,” with the clear implication that the conception is a natural one. However, conservative scholars have frequently pointed out that the word is never used of a married woman in the OT.21 So they have argued that the word denotes a sexually mature, but unmarried, young woman. It would be axiomatic in Hebrew society that such a woman would be a virgin. While the viginity would not be the main focus, as with beṯûlâ, nonetheless it would still follow. The English “maiden” comes very close to having the same denotations and connotations. Such an understanding has the significant virtue of explaining the origin of the LXX parthénos, “virgin,” something those commentators opting for “a young woman of marriageable age” do not mention. Unless ʿalmâ had overtones of virginity about it, the LXX translation is inexplicable.
But if Isaiah wished to stress the virginity of the mother here, why did he not use beṯûlâ? Young, noting that beṯûlâ is frequently accompanied by some such statement as “she had not known a man,” argues that it was the ambiguous term. However, this is manifestly not so, for beṯûlâ has no implication in addition to virginity, whereas ʿalmâ does. The conclusion to which we are driven is that while the prophet did not want to stress the virginity, neither did he wish to leave it aside (as he could have done by using ʾišŝa or some other term for “woman”). In fact, he may have used this term precisely because of its richness and diversity. The Ugaritic cognate (ǵlmt) is used with reference to a goddess who was understood to be a perpetual virgin. Without conceding that Isaiah has merely adapted a myth,24 one may still think that he adapted well-known linguistic forms which would make it plain that whatever might occur along the way, the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy would be no ordinary event.
Possibly, then, it is the dual focus of the oracle that explains the use of ʿalmâ here. In the short term, the virgin conception does not seem to have had primary importance. Rather, the significance is that a child conceived at that moment would still be immature when the two threatening nations would have been destroyed (vv. 16, 22). Had Isaiah used beṯûlâ here, Ahaz would probably have been so caught up with that thought that he would have missed the specific linkage to his own time.
On the other hand, the very two-sidedness of the sign in Ahaz’s time demanded something more. Yes, the disappearance of Syria and Ephraim could be seen as evidence that God was with them. But what of Assyria, foolishly trusted and soon to turn on its hapless client? Was God still with them in that? And suppose even greater powers than Assyria strode onto the world’s stage, what then? If we can believe that the transcendent One is really immanent, and the immanent One truly transcendent, then there is reason to live courageously and unselfishly. But no child born to a young woman in Ahaz’s day is proof of God’s presence in all times. But if a virgin overshadowed by God’s Spirit should conceive and give birth, it would not only be a sign of God’s presence with us. Better than that, it would be the reality of that experience. So Ahaz’s sign must be rooted in its own time to have significance for that time, but it also must extend beyond that time and into a much more universal mode if its radical truth is to be any more than a vain hope. For such a twofold task ʿalmâ is admirably suited.
she will call his name Immanuel. The custom of the mother’s naming her child is not uncommon in the OT (cf. Gen. 4:1, 25; 29:31–30:13, 17–24; 35:18; Judg. 13:24; 1 Sam. 1:20; 4:21), especially if the mother has reason for a unique emotional investment in the child or if the father cannot perform the task. This emphasis upon the mother and the corresponding de-emphasis of the father’s role cannot help but be suggestive in the shaping of the ultimate understanding of the sign. No man sired by a human father could be the embodiment of “God with us.”
In contrast with Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, both of whom are treated in a straightforward manner as Isaiah’s sons, there is an aura of mystery about the Immanuel figure. This is so even without the NT quotation of 7:14. His father is not identified at all and his mother only generally. He is touched upon only briefly, but then appears again suddenly in 8:8 as possessor of the land and yet again in 8:10 by means of a wordplay. The enigmatic nature of the references makes it extremely difficult to identify the child of Ahaz’s time. In the context of the house of David and being spoken of as owner of the land, it is tempting to think of a newly conceived crown prince. The recognition that curds and honey represent food of royalty in some Mesopotamian texts lends further credence to the idea, as does the thought that through Hezekiah God was able to demonstrate his faithful presence. However, that Hezekiah was twenty-five years old at his accession in 516 (2 K. 18:2) means that he was born in 741, at least six years before these events. To hold that the child was “the crown prince, as yet unborn,” raises again the question of Hezekiah. Are we to think Isaiah did not know that the crown prince was already born? Furthermore, if Ahaz was to father this child, it seems very odd that the fact should be ignored. Finally, v. 22 makes it very plain that curds and honey are not intended as symbols of royalty but of the generally depopulated nature of the region.
The suggestion that no particular child was intended is even less attractive, in the light of the particularity of Isaiah’s children as well as of 8:8 and of the description here. The facts of a child’s conception and birth are significant to the framework of the sign. The child will be born in a certain time frame, and its specific existence in that time frame is intrinsic to the function of the sign. It would not be necessary that Ahaz know of the birth, only that at some point he become aware that the promised child had been born.
Perhaps the most attractive option is that Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hash-baz were one and the same. If this were so, this passage would form a more poetic statement of the child’s identity, pointing to the ultimate Immanuel, whereas 8:1–4 would constitute a more prosaic account and be limited merely to the person of Maher-shalal-hash-baz. The references to his conception and birth in 8:3 lend support to the connection, as does the reference to Immanuel in 8:10, shortly after the discussion of the birth of Isaiah’s son.
 Smith, G. (2017). Isaiah. In T. Cabal (Ed.), CSB Apologetics Study Bible (p. 824). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Longman, T., III. (2017). Isaiah. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1053). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Is 7:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
December 11 Amos 4:1-6:14 Revelation 2:18-3:6 Psalm 130:1-8 Proverbs 29:21-22
Amos 4:2 – Not much has changed between ancient Egyptian fish hooks and today’s fish hooks.
Amos 4:6 – “Cleanness of teeth” is not referring to good dental care, but is part of the “sarcasm” of this passage. Note the invitation to transgression in Amos 4:4, a leavened sacrifice in Amos 4:5, want of bread in Amos 4:6, and a lack of water in Amos 4:7. It seems likely that the cleanness of teeth refers to lack of eating.
Amos 4:7 – Notice God’s control of weather. Jesus confirmed in Matthew 5:45 that the Father in Heaven “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Notice the point God made – withholding rain from one city, to make people go to another city. They would go long distances for water, but no distance for God (Amos 4:8). Yes God is the former of mountains, and the creator of wind (Amos 4:13).
Amos 5:4 – “Seek ye me” is repeated in Amos 5:6, Amos 5:8. Note he contrasts this with their rituals (Amos 5:21).
Amos 5:24 – This verse has been quoted by such people as Martin Luther King Jr and former FBI Director James Comey. However, usually the context isn’t brought out – people with one foot in worship of Yahweh (Amos 5:22), and one foot in the worship of Moloch (Amos 5:26). If you’re going to use this verse, you better be committed to the pro-life cause.
Amos 6:7 – The first captives are the ones who are enjoying the luxury of the day.
Revelation 2:20 – The last recorded words of Jesus and we’re being warned about tolerance. The buzzword of today is the antithesis of commitment to Christ.
Revelation 2:23 – When we receive our works, what will you get?
Revelation 3:5 – Who are the overcomers? In Romans 8:37 it’s identified as us – the more than conquerors. But it’s nothing that we have done, but “through him that loved us.” We can overcome thru His love! 1 John 4:4 reminds us that we have overcome, because “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Psalm 130:5 – This year we’ve been hoping in His Word! Keep waiting for the LORD!
You have prepared your gift list. You have begun preparing your house for the holidays. Take time to prepare your heart to make room for the One whose birthday we celebrate. My purpose in writing this devotional is to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
Read Luke 2:1-20. Open your eyes anew to really see the Christmas story. Through these questions, meditate on its present-day personal applications. What does it say about God’s ways and your response? Ask God what he wants to reveal to you. You may want to do this meditation over a period of several days.
Luke 2:1-5 Examine the setting: Jesus came to a city. How would Jesus like to come to your city?
Luke 2:6 Compare this verse with Galatians 4:4-5, the Christmas story according to Paul. What does this say about God’s timing? Ask, What do I need to surrender to Your timing, Lord?
Luke 2:7 Reflect on the words “no room.” Where are your “no vacancy” signs?
Luke 2:8-9 Note that ordinary people were doing everyday things, and they saw the glory of God. Where do you need to see the glory of the Lord shine in your regular routine?
Luke 2:10 Fear not and joy no matter what! Ask yourself, How is this real for me?
Luke 2:11 Meditate on the third verse of “Silent Night.” How personal is the phrase “born for you?” Have you seen Him as Savior-babe as well as Christ the Lord?
Luke 2:7,12 Compare this description of Jesus with the one in Hebrews 1:2-3. What does this say about humility?
Luke 2:13 How can you praise God as a lifestyle?
Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest and on earth- Have you ever seen the world vision in the Christmas story? What will it take for the glory of God to be seen in all the earth? What will it take for everything in your life to say “Glory in the highest?”
Luke 2:15,16a Instant obedience. The shepherds saw Jesus because they obeyed immediately. What has God shown you lately that calls for instant obedience?
Luke 2:16 Surrendered expectations. The King of the universe came into this world in a smelly stable! What expectations of how God is working do you need to surrender?
Luke 2:19 Do you have a “Mary heart“? Do you ponder God’s ways in your heart? Let God prepare your heart with fresh joy, anticipation, renewed peace, vision… with whatever you need most.
As you sing “Joy to the World” this season, really hear the words. Don’t let the familiarity of this great carol lull you into neutral. Receive your King who has the right to rule in the hardest circumstances of your life. Submit, bow your knee to Him, and say,
“Yes, King of my life, I prepare You room and receive You. Reign in the midst of the world’s temporary insanity of the season and beyond. Rule in my heart and my family with truth, grace, righteousness, wondrous love, and glory.“
Despite the sufferings of his people from the sixth plague, Pharaoh maintained an obstinate silence. Indeed there seemed small use in his sending for Moses again, considering that the monarch’s plighted word to the prophet had now been twice broken. Then there came a seventh plague, a terrific storm such as had never before been known in Egypt. The land of Egypt is the quietest and sunniest of all lands; storm is almost unknown there; so that to its people the tremendous hurricane must have seemed far more frightful than to a more northern race. “The Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground.” The hail smote “all that was in the field,” so that men were slain as well as beasts, and the grain was destroyed, with its provision for the coming year. Even the trees were beaten down and broken.
In the midst of all the destruction stood Moses, his friends doubtless cowering around him bewildered by this clash of elements so strange to them, dazed by the blinding flashes, deafened by the roaring thunder and the howling winds. Their leader alone stood calm, his outstretched rod, the symbol of his power, protecting him and directing the fury of the storm.
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The Christmas season is a time when we often celebrate family, friends, joy, life, and all the good things we have. There is much for which to be thankful, and appreciation and enjoyment of these things is good. Yet, it is also easy to forget that Jesus came into the world without many of these things.
Jesus was not born into a festive family home ablaze with lights, the aromas of good food, and the joyful sounds of music and festivities. The buildup to his birth didn’t include lights, caroling, or cookie parties. Rather, Jesus came into the world where animals were kept. His earthly father was a carpenter; his mother was a young girl—one who was suspected of having sexual relations before marriage, and not with her husband to be. His first visitors were lowly shepherds and Eastern wise men. And yet, despite the differences, here are three reasons why it is perfectly fitting for us to celebrate Jesus’ birth joyously with overflowing hearts of gratitude:
1. Jesus takes our place before God’s judgment seat.
We all hate being judged by others, especially when our faults, sins, and transgressions are pointed out and we will suffer some hard consequence. Imagine a courtroom setting where God as the judge is passing just judgement on your sins. God is perfectly righteous, good, and just—and we are not. In fact, sin pervades even the nicest things we try to do.
Because God is just he must judge sinners. For our sin we must suffer eternal separation from the goodness of God and only experience his wrath against sin. This is our just condemnation if we try to stand alone and on our own merits before God.
Yet, God is also good, merciful, loving, and kind, and he promised a Savior who would willingly suffer for us in our stead. The righteous Judge sent his only begotten Son to take the punishment that we deserved, so that we could have forgiveness of our sins and a righteous standing before the good Judge.
Jesus willingly undertook this sacrifice because of his love for his Father and his love for us. Thus, we should rejoice exceedingly because the birth of Jesus was a major step toward God’s fulfillment of his promise to send a Savior who would take our place of judgment and give us the righteousness we need to stand blameless before the God of the universe.
2. Jesus welcomes the forgotten and poor.
I love how Jesus enters the world. He is born into a poor family, and his mother was a young girl who was suspected of fornication. He would grow up in a little unimportant town. His first visitors were shepherds of lowly social class. Jesus himself wasn’t popular, good-looking, or famous.
God sent Jesus to the broken and lowly. Jesus didn’t appear in palaces to be applauded by the healthy, wealthy, and worldly-wise. He came to those with whom no one else would bother. Such is God’s great love and mercy. He bends down to comfort and build up the weak. He pours a special blessing and honor upon those whom the world would never notice. The birth of Jesus shows that God the Father longs to gather to himself those who are lowly. God cares for even the least and poorest of peoples.
We do not earn a standing before God based on our bank account or social status. No, the Father welcomes the poor and needy. The physically poor, lowly, and outcasts are also a picture of our spiritual state. We are broken, poor, dirty, guilt-ridden sinners, outcasts from God. Jesus came to gather those broken lowly sinners—the dirty ones—to himself and to the Father.
We should celebrate the coming of Jesus because it reminds us that God’s love covers all our sins, making us clean before God and part of his family. Trusting in Jesus Christ as our Savior means we have received the gift of God’s love and a welcome into a forever eternal and loving family. We will never be outcasts again.
3. Jesus brings light into a dark world.
Light is such an important resource. One of the hardest things about winter is getting up in the dark to go to work and getting out of work when it’s dark again. We miss the glorious light of the sun. The gloom can easily set in. Without light there is no way to chart a clear path—we fumble around in the dark.
Do you remember a time the electricity went out, and you had to search in the dark for matches or a flashlight? Think of the world with no clear knowledge of God, his goodness, mercy, or love. Before Christ came, the darkness of sin was very powerful and overwhelming. Philosophers had theories about morality, goodness, and gods, but the world did not have the Light. The world was fumbling around in the darkness of sin, groping for answers but unable to find the ultimate life-giving truth and light that only come from God.
In Christ, God sheds his light of salvation upon this world. The Israelites had God’s truth but not its fulfillment. They had a promise—a glimmering—but not the fulfilled reality. When Jesus came, he was the fulfillment of God’s promise to break humanity out of the shackles and darkness of sin and to bring them into the light of the glory and blessing of God.
We can celebrate the coming of Jesus, because in him alone we find the light that frees us from the darkness of sin. We find the light that breaks into the darkness of our lives and hearts, changing and drawing us out of darkness into a relationship with the Light Giver. Praise God for sending a Savior who takes our just judgment upon himself, welcomes the broken, and sheds light into our minds and hearts.
Ayrian Yasar is associate editor of Beautiful Christian Life.
Tornadoes, storms strike US; Kentucky gov fears dozens dead Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing at least six people overnight as it tore through a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. The Kentucky governor said he feared dozens more could be dead. Many people were feared dead at the factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, where Gov. Andy Beshear called the situation “tragic” at a news conference Saturday morning. “There were about 110 people in it at the time that the tornado hit it,” Beshear said. “We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians and probably end up 70 to 100.”
Blast at Hamas arms depot rocks Palestinian camp in Lebanon The weapons storage in the Burj al-Shemali camp was apparently controlled by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Videos from the scene shared by local media show a number of small bright red flashes above the southern city, followed by a large explosion and the sound of glass breaking. Subsequent reports from Lebanon’s state media cited “a number of deaths and injuries.”
Swiss museum gives up art treasures looted by Nazis Museum refuses to display artworks that once belonged to Jewish owners dispossessed by the Nazis A Swiss museum said on Friday it would give up almost 40 works of art after a years-long investigation concluded they were either stolen by the Nazis or of doubtful origin.
Jill Biden Insists POTUS’s Brain Isn’t Scrambled Eggs GOP lawmakers have insisted that Biden, the oldest president in the history of the US at 81, take a cognitive test after multiple verbal blunders – which spox Jen Psaki has blamed on allergies according to the New York Post. “Quite a few Americans have some questions about the president’s current mental fitness,” asked Braver. “I think that’s ridiculous,” replied Biden, insisting that her husband works ‘almost 24 hours a day.’
And Just Like That, Inflation Is About To Disappear? what we though this summer was just a joke appears to be coming true, because as the BLS has reported, starting next month it will adjust the weights for its Consumer Price Index basket, which will be calculated “based on consumer expenditure data from 2019-2020.” Alas, there is no further detail on this critical topic, although we will take any bet that post-revision reported inflation will drop because, well, “adjustments.”
Biden gives Ukraine ’strong’ support in phone call to Zelensky Biden gave “strong” backing on Dec. 9 to Ukraine in its struggle with Russia and urged a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Europe, while promising U.S. help if Moscow attacks. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement thanking Biden for his “strong support” in a phone call lasting about an hour and a half.
District Tells Students To Cast Spells On People Who Say ‘All Lives Matter’ While documenting my former high school’s attempt to indoctrinate me with critical race theory six years ago, I remarked that now, several years later, “the situation has undoubtedly worsened.” Worsened it has. Now, Campbell Union High School District has promoted more than 100 “equity resources” to students and staff, including a document that taught students how to put a curse on those who say “all lives matter.”
Italian Govt Strips Unvaccinated of Freedoms over Christmas Italy is making life more uncomfortable for unvaccinated people this holiday season, excluding them from indoor restaurants, theatres, and museums starting Monday to reduce the spread of coronavirus and encourage vaccine sceptics to get their shots.
Israel not expected to join ‘bizarre’ U.S. boycott of Winter Olympics in China Israel is not expected to join the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in China next year, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Tuesday. The official described the diplomatic boycott of the games as “bizarre” and added sarcastically that “Israel’s snow sledding team is already warming up on the sidelines.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “Right now … hundreds of thousands of Russian troops are massed on the border of Ukraine waiting to invade… This calamitous foreign policy disaster is Joe Biden’s fault. This is the direct consequence of Joe Biden’s surrender to Vladimir Putin on Nord Stream 2.” —Senator Ted Cruz
People in Austria who remain unvaccinated could find themselves imprisoned for a year, according to critics of an amendment to an administrative law.
Susanne Fürst of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), which voted against the amendment, warned that it could be used to punish the unjabbed with much harsher sentences.
The amendment raises fines from €726 (£617/$818) to €2,000 (£1,701/$2,255) and increases prison time for those who refuse to pay from four weeks to up to a year.
Given that Austrians who don’t get vaccinated by February face fines of up to €7,200 ($8,000) for non-compliance, those who refuse to pay would also face a 12 month jail sentence.
The amendment also orders people who are jailed to pay for their own imprisonment.
“If detention is carried out by the courts, the associated costs shall be recovered by the courts from the obligated party in accordance with the provisions existing for the recovery of the costs of enforcing judicial penalties,” it states.
Despite Fürst protesting that the amendment could be used to further punish the unvaccinated, the measure was approved anyway.
At the time it was announced, then Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg vowed to hit the unvaccinated with “penalties” if they still refused to get the jab, while asserting that they should “suffer.”
Given that some technocrats are asserting that the vaccination program will never end, the initial one year prison sentence for vaccine refusniks could be just the beginning.
Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon reacts to the rise in inflation under the Biden Administration, the Biden Administration’s response to the potential for Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ‘Build Back Better’ Agenda – Via Newsmax’s ‘America Right Now.’
The zealous and often illogical promotion of vaccines by the government appears to have officially turned a majority of Americans into anti-vaxxers. Not metaphorically, but apparently, literally as a matter of basic English.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “anti-vaxxer” as “a person who opposes … regulations mandating vaccination.”
So, if you oppose a vaccine requirement, you are an anti-vaxxer. Well, an official NBC News Survey by Hart Research found that 50% of American adults opposed “requiring that everyone who is now eligible must get a COVID-19 vaccine.” It appears half of Americans are now officially anti-vaxxers.
In reality, based on the more common, colloquial use of this term, even more Americans are anti-vaxxers. According to mainstream media, if you raise questions about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines – anti-vaxxer!
Stunning footage circulated around the Internet this week of a school in Portland, Oregon forcing young children to eat their lunches outside, in 40-degree weather, on buckets, because school administrators were afraid of a COVID outbreak or something.
In the US, the situation is even more subdued. While cases have seen a slight uptick over the past week, the number of deaths has remained near its lows.
Meanwhile, Santa Clara County reported its first case of the omicron variant, health officials confirmed Friday, in an individual who had been fully vaccinated, but didn’t receive their booster shot. It was California’s 14th case of the omicron variant so far.
Santa Clara’s Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said the following in response: “Although there are still many unknowns about this variant, we strongly recommend getting vaccinated and getting your booster if you haven’t already to help guard against Omicron...It is a new variant, but we know what to do, and that’s to continue with all our layers of protection: vaccinate, boost, mask, ventilate, distance, and test often.”
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, the bureaucrat who coined the term “pandemic of the unvaccinated” (only to see the virus cut through vaccine protections like butter), confirmed Friday afternoon that the US has only seen one patient hospitalized due to omicron, and that nearly all cases of the variant found in the US so far have been notably mild.
But while Walensky just yesterday spent her time urging all Americans as young as 16 to get their booster shots as soon as they are able, the CDC director’s tone was notably more restrained on Friday, when the agency said the first batch of cases were mostly mild, with most patients reporting symptoms such as a cough or a runny nose.
Omicron has now been detected in at least 22 states, according to CDC data shared with the media. And although health experts stress it’s still too early to draw any strong conclusions on how the variant will spread in the country, Walensky admitted that the reaction appears to be mild so far. The agency elaborated on its findings in a 5-page report looking at 43 people in the US who have tested positive for the omicron variant.
That’s not all: the Epoch Times reported Friday that the WHO had finally returned its requests for comment, and confirmed that the agency couldn’t specify a single death that’s attributable to omicron. And while South Africa has seen a sizable uptick in hospitalizations over the last couple of weeks, it’s too soon to tell if this is due to omicron, delta or other variants.
According to WHO, “for Omicron, we have not had any deaths reported, but it is still early in the clinical course of disease and this may change.”
Circling back to the CDC report, more than half of the patients infected were young, between the ages of 18 and 39, and roughly 75% were fully vaccinated – including one-third who had also received a booster shot. Six cases had a previously documented COVID infection, and one-third of the infected had recently traveled internationally.
While we agree it’s not a large number, the group is roughly equivalent to the size of some preliminary studies carried out by drug companies and governments. One obvious weakness in the data is the fact that only a handful of patients over age 65 were included in the sample.
Still, the findings are in line with what South African officials are saying.
The findings were greeted by a chorus of doctors and experts arguing that it’s too soon to say anything definitive about omicron.
“It may be a more mild variant but we just don’t know yet. It’s too soon,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto. Right now, “if you’re vaccinated, chances are you’re going to have a milder course,” he said.
But if that’s true, then why is everybody panicking?
A senior producer at CNN has been arrested and charged with enticing minors as young as 9-years-old to engage in unlawful sexual activity.
Between April and July of 2020, John Griffin – who worked on the CNN show New Day, allegedly used online messaging applications to communicate with the purported parents of minor daughters, according to a Vermont grand jury indictment.
The 44-year-old CNN producer from Stamford CT, who worked ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Chris Cuomo according to the Daily Mail, ‘used Google Hangouts and Kik to convince the mothers that a “woman is a woman regardless of her age,” and that “women should be sexually subservient and inferior to men,” according to a Friday indictment.
In June of 2020, Griffin advised a mother of 9- and 13-year-old daughters that the mother’s responsibility was to see that her older daughter was “trained properly.” Griffin later transferred over $3,000 to the mother for plane tickets so the mother and her 9-year-old daughter could fly from Nevada to Boston’s Logan airport. The mother and child flew to Boston in July of 2020, where Griffin picked them up in his Tesla and drove them to his Ludlow house. At the house, the daughter was directed to engage in, and did engage in, unlawful sexual activity.
Griffin also allegedly attempted to entice two other children over the internet to engage in sexual activity – proposing a “virtual training session” in a video chat in April 2020 which would involve instructing a mother and her 14-year-old daughter to get naked and touch each other at his direction.
In June 2020, Griffin proposed to the purported mother of a 16-year-old that she take a “little mother-daughter trip” to his ski house for sexual training involving the minor.
Griffin faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted on each federal count.
“We take the charges against Mr. Griffin incredibly seriously,” a CNN spokesperson told the Mail on Friday. “We only learned of his arrest this afternoon and have suspended him pending investigation.”
According to the report, Griffin had been with CNN since 2013, working on New Day when Cuomo was the host. More recently, he was a producer for political analyst John Avalon.