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Immanuel (12 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
Matthew, in my text, is quoting, as you are all aware, a great and famous passage from the prophet Isaiah. The commentators are by no means of one mind as to the interpretation of that passage, nor are they agreed as to the person to whom it refers. In less critical days than ours the passage was accepted as messianic. Our fathers found the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth both foretold in the passage. And that is the idea that simple, believing folk for the most part hold to this day. They believe that the prophet, by the Spirit, spoke directly and specifically of Mary and of Jesus. But modern scholarship now steps in and says that we have no right to interpret this passage as prophesying the Virgin Birth, for the simple reason that the word translated Virgin means nothing more than a andquot;young woman,andquot; whether married or unmarried. And they go on further to say that the child Isaiah had in mind was no far-off child, but a child immediately to be born. Some obliterate every messianic reference by explaining that all Isaiah says is this, that a certain young wife would give her child about to be born this glorious name andquot;Immanuel,andquot; in token of her faith that God was still with Israel. The majority, however, still hold that the word carries with it messianic expectations. What they say is that Isaiah expected the Messiah to appear in the person of the little son of one of the royal wives, whose birth was expected quite soon.
From the critical and historical point of view, I am quite willing to believe that this interpretation is the right one. It proves nothing, however, beyond this: that Isaiah spoke larger and better than he knew. The Old Testament writers are continually doing that. They are constantly indulging in glowing hopes about persons in their own day which those persons do not realize. The psalmist, for instance, sang a song about the marriage of ...
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