The Immanuel Prophecy

The idea of the Messiah, gradually gathering to itself the attributes of a divine King, reaches one of its clearest expressions in the great Immanuel prophecy, extending from Isaiah 7 to 9:7, and centering in the declaration: “The Lord Himself will give you [the unbelieving Ahaz] a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14; Cf. 8:8, 10). This is none other than the child of wonder extolled in chapter 9:6, 7: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, [Father of Eternity], The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,” etc. This is the prophecy quoted as fulfilled in Christ’s birth in Matt. 1 .23, and it seems also alluded to in the glowing promises to Mary in Luke 1:32, 33. It is pointed out in objection that the term rendered “virgin” in Isaiah does not necessarily bear this meaning; it denotes properly only a young unmarried woman. The context, however, seems clearly to lay an emphasis on the unmarried state, and the translators of the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) plainly so understood it when they rendered it by parthenos, a word which does mean “virgin.” The tendency in many quarters now is to admit this (Dr. Cheyne, etc.), and even to seek an explanation of it in alleged Babylonian beliefs in a virgin-birth. This last, however, is quite illusory.[1] It is, on the other hand, singular that the Jews themselves do not seem to have applied this prophecy at any time to the Messiah — a fact which disproves the theory that it was this text which suggested the story of a Virgin birth to the early disciples.

A Saturated Gospel

Let us observe in an example or two how thoroughly saturated the Gospel narrative is with the assumption of the deity of Christ, so that it crops out in the most unexpected ways and places.

In three passages of Matthew, reporting words of Jesus, He is represented as speaking familiarly and in the most natural manner in the world, of “His angels” (13:41; 16:27; 24:31). In all three He designates Himself as the “Son of man”; and in all three there are additional suggestions of His majesty. “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling and those that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.”

Who is this Son of man who has angels, by whose instrumentality the final judgment is executed at His command? “The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then shall He reward every man according to his deeds.” Who is this Son of man surrounded by His angels, in whose hands are the issues of life? The Son of man “shall send forth His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Who is this Son of man at whose behest His angels winnow men? A scrutiny of the passages will show that it is not a peculiar body of angels which is meant by the Son of man’s angels, but just the angels as a body, who are His to serve Him as He commands. In a word, Jesus Christ is above angels (Mark 13:32) — as is argued at explicit length at the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews. “To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, etc.” (Heb. 1:13).