The author of the Gospel of Matthew used the Old Testament
verse Isa 7:14 as validation that Jesus would be born of a
"virgin" and that Jesus was referred to and predicted
in the Old Testament.
The author of Matthew claimed that the events surrounding the birth of Jesus fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah.
Part of this prophecy by Isaiah stated that the child born to the woman would be called the name Immanuel.
One problem with this alleged fulfillment is that Jesus was never called or named Immanuel by anyone in the New Testament.
This problem is deemed insignificant to most Christians.
One line of rationalization they use is that the child didn't really need to be named Immanuel because the author of Matthew shows that the child would be called Immanuel by many people who he refers to as "they" instead of she(meaning the mother).
In other words, "they" could apply to anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was God walking among his people in the flesh. Since John chapter 1 portrays Jesus as God being made flesh, the stipulation of the prophecy that the child be called the name Immanuel(which means "God is with us") is satisfied.
In other words, anyone acknowledging Jesus as God incarnate is sufficient to fulfill the prophecy, and because this was done in the New Testament, the prophecy was fulfilled.
According to Isaiah, someone was to call the child's name Immanuel as part of the sign. The logical choice would be the parents, perhaps instructed by God to do so.
As the KJV Bible reads, it implies the mother would do so.
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Whether the child was named by she, he, or they, the child was to be called the name Immanuel. The name is part of the sign stipulated in the prophecy.
Immanuel is supposed to mean "God with us" or "God is with us", and the context of Isa 7:14 indicates that God is showing through the sign that he is on the side of the House of David regarding the matter of the two rival kingdoms ready to invade Judah.
The child being born and named Immanuel was part of a prophetic sign promised. The defeat of these kingdoms as described by 2 Kings 16:9 indicates that God kept his promise to Ahaz and his people.
God was with the House of David/Judah in this case. The prophecy was fulfilled long before the author of Matthew came along and created another fulfillment.
The author of Matthew says that all of the events surrounding the pregnancy of Mary and birth of Jesus by Mary were done to fulfill the prophecy made by Isaiah, which includes the child being named Immanuel, which means "God with us".
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
If the claim by the author of Matthew is to be recognized as the valid fulfillment of Isa 7:14, then the stipulations of the prophecy must be met.
Matthew does not say that the events of the birth of Jesus "fulfilled again", or "partially fulfilled", or only "symbolically fulfilled" Isa 7:14.
He specifically says "all this was done, that it might be fulfilled". There is no indication of anything less than a proper and complete fulfillment of the spoken words of Isaiah.
The name Immanuel does not mean "God has become a man and walks among us" nor does it mean "God has become flesh and is with us as a man". Such assertions contradict the word of God.
According to God, he isn't a man.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
Also according to God, he does not change.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
And according to God, there are none like him.
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
God is not a man, God does not change, and there are none like God.
While turning a man into God himself through a "virgin" birth may be valid within the confines of the New Testament and trinitarian Christianity, it violates the premises of the Old Testament and God's prior declarations about himself.
Isa 7:14 says nothing about God becoming a man as a sign for Ahaz and his people(the House of David).
The sign of the child being born and named Immanuel was to reassure Ahaz and his people that God was on their side and that the two rival kingdoms would be defeated.
If Isaiah meant that God would become a man as a sign for Ahaz and his people, then he did so hundreds of years before Jesus was born.
The child was promised as a sign for Ahaz and his people and as 2 Kings 16:9 indicates, God made good on the promise.
If the name Immanuel really means,"God will become a man and walk among us"; as some Christians assert, then God promised to do that for Ahaz and his people in those days.
Jesus would be the second incarnation of God rather than the first.
The child Immanuel who was born in the days of Isaiah was the first incarnation of God born to the first virgin.
That would make Jesus just a rerun of a prophecy that was already fulfilled long before he was born.
Also note that some Christians have mentally changed Isa 7:14 to suit their whims regarding prophecy fulfillment by Jesus.
This is what they want Isa 7:14 to mean:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel OR shall acknowledge the child as God in the flesh, walking among his people.
By mentally inserting this qualifier that anyone acknowledging Jesus as God in the flesh provided fulfillment of the prophecy, the actual events required for fulfillment have been circumvented.
Mentally revising the text means that the child doesn't need to be called the name Immanuel after all. According to this rationalization, anybody calling or acknowledging this child as God in the flesh will be sufficient to fulfill the prophecy.
However, there is no qualifier in the actual text of Isa 7:14 which states the child only had to be "acknowledged" as God in the flesh to be fulfilled.
The text does not say:
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and he shall be acknowledged as God himself, walking among his people."
That qualifier is mentally inserted into the text by some Christians to redefine the actual prophecy so that fulfillment could be achieved under Christian terms and not the original ones of Isaiah.
Isaiah said nothing about this child being God in the flesh, and as already noted in Num 23:19, God is not a man.
The Gospel of John does claim that God became man and dwelt among the people.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Claiming God is a man is quite different than claiming God is on your side.
The issue of whether Jesus was God in the flesh isn't even clear according to John.
John later has Jesus claiming that he wasn't really God after all.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
As this verse shows, Jesus had a God and it wasn't himself.
And as already noted, Num 23:19 states that God is not a man.
Note that John 1:1 is also a twist of Psa 33:6 and there's a distinction to be made.
John 1:1 says the Word was God:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Psa 33:6 says the Word was of God.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
If the word of God creates as Psa 33:6 indicates, then Adam was also the word made flesh. Did that make Adam God?
No it did not. The word becoming flesh doesn't establish that the word was God himself. If word made flesh was simply the product of his creation, Jesus was no more God himself than Adam was, and Jesus even admitted as much in John 20:17.
The process of the Christian rationalization used here is to first remove the stipulation of the original prophecy in Isa 7:14, which states that the child would be named Immanuel. The next step is to insert a new stipulation which says that all anyone had do was to acknowledge that the child was God in the flesh. According to some Christians, this produces a proper and valid fulfillment.
Christians have actually created their own prophecy using only a small piece of Isa 7 as a springboard for their validation of a virgin birth story. However, creating a new modified prophecy doesn't make it the word of God.
But in the end, the Bible will always mean whatever a believer wants it to mean.
-- BACK --