The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

December 7, 2013

INSTANT MESSAGE: The sign of Immanuel

By CRAIG HARRIS
Palestine Herald-Press

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV): 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.



There are many passages in the Old Testament that make no sense if you take Jesus out of the equation. This is one of them. Other examples are Moses lifting a serpent on a pole in the desert; Jonah being in a large fish for three days; the sacrificial system where an innocent lamb was killed to redeem sins; David describing being crucified; Isaiah stating that God would intentionally crush the Messiah. All of these passages only make sense when we look at them in light of Jesus' birth, death and resurrection.

Isaiah told King Ahaz, who was an evil king, that God would give him a sign: a virgin would give birth to a son and call him Immanuel, which means "God with us". Did Isaiah really mean a virgin, or just a young woman? The scholars who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (The Septuagint) more than a hundred years before Jesus was born used the word virgin. But if we keep reading this passage, we don't find a virgin giving birth, and we don't find any person being called Immanuel. Clearly, this was a prophecy that had a double meaning. It told Ahaz that in just a few years the war that he was fearing would be settled. Ahaz probably thought it meant a young woman. But it had another meaning too, it foretold a virgin birth that would not happen for another seven-hundred years.



The Christmas season makes no sense if you take Jesus out of the picture either. We celebrate God himself becoming one of us and offering to take away our sins. We celebrate the hope he gives. We celebrate Immanuel.



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Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.