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A Virgin, Immanuel
and the Incarnation

Ahaz was faithless.

Neighboring countries of Syria and Israel banned together to fight the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Ahaz, the king of Judah, sent for the king of Assyria to come to his rescue.

The LORD God is sovereign in the affairs of the nations and He sent the Hebrew prophet Isaiah to counsel Ahaz. Isaiah said, “Take care, and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because the two stubs of smoldering firebrands . . .” (Isaiah 7:4).  The two threatening countries are just burned up pieces of firewood. God said, “It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass” (v. 7).

What would you have done if you were Ahaz? The pressure on Ahaz was intense, not just the threat of war, but the LORD was breathing down his neck as well. “If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” (v. 19). Ahaz, you are as good as gone yourself if you do not trust Me. If you trust Me I will deliver you from this smoke, but if you don’t you are through as a king. Moreover, trusting in the Assyrian army is not trusting in Yahweh.

Ahaz refused to trust in the LORD. So He spoke to the king again, “Ask for a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it as deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (v. 11). Go ahead, ask Ahaz! What an opportunity to see God do the impossible!

King Ahaz got a little religious. “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD” (v. 12). That was exactly what he was doing by not trusting Yahweh. God invited Ahaz to ask for the “sign.” He was not testing God; God was testing him. The “sign” was a pledge of divine certainty, a miracle wrought for evidential purposes.

What would you have asked for? How would you have responded?

Now if Ahaz had been a wise man he would have gone ahead and asked. When God proposes a sign it is not a test; it was an invitation to come and see what God can do in a time of crisis. “Listen now, O house of David!” Isaiah was getting to a little testy. “Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?” (v. 13). Isaiah did not say “your” God, but “my God.”

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (v. 14).

I have no problem with the “virgin” because I do not have any problem with “Immanuel.” The greater event is not the “virgin,” but “God with us.” The Incarnation, God becoming flesh, is the great mystery. Isaiah was referring to something very unusual. It would not be unusual for a maiden to conceive; that happens every day. However, a “virgin,” a marriageable young lady of unblemished reputation would be a very unusual “sign.” It pointed to the greater event.

J. W. Watts said the sign of the virgin would be “an encouragement to a faithful remnant to Israel. As a wonder of wonders such as had just been offered, and as a condemnation of the faithless elements in the line of David.”

The prophet Isaiah developed the idea of the child to be born (7:14), His birth (9:6f), His reigning (11:1f), and His death as the suffering servant of the LORD (Isa 52:13-53:12).

“God with us.” That is the wonder of wonders. God in the corporeal self-manifestation of Himself would be a super-human person. God with us is the God-man. He is the incarnation of Deity. Immanuel would Himself be El (God). This child to be born would be God among His people, and characteristic of Him.

“God with us” is “Christ, in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). “For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority” (Col. 2:9-10).

How did the LORD God fulfill His “sign” given to Ahaz? The angel Gabriel said to the virgin, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). “God with us” is “Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

“God with us.” “Christ in you.” Not only is all the fullness of Deity dwelling “in bodily form” in Jesus Christ, but “in Him you have been made complete . . .” (Col. 2:10).

The apostle Paul, in the verses that follow, stresses the Christian’s vital union with Jesus Christ. “And in Him you have been made complete . . . and in Him you were also circumcised . . . having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions . . .” (Col. 2:11-13).

Don’t miss the greatest mystery in the Bible. “God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27).

God’s great goal in the gospel ministry is “that we may present every man complete in Christ” (v. 28).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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