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It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, we can now turn our attention to the greatest time of year: Christmas!
Every year it is the pastor’s task to decide what he will preach during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
This year we are going to explore prophecy pertaining to Christ and his first coming.
Did you know there are over 400 prophecies concerning the Messiah?
And we are going to cover them all!
Just kidding.
Over the course of the next few weeks we will look at a few pertaining to the birth of Christ and try to better understand how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies and see how God set the stage for his coming.
We are going to begin with the virgin birth of Christ.
If you have your copy of God’s Word, turn to Matthew chapter 1.
The book of Matthew is one of my favorite books in the Bible and it is my favorite gospel of the four.
Matthew writes his gospel to a Jewish audience and his purpose is to persuade them to believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah from the Old Testament.
Remember, Messiah is a church word.
It means anointed one.
To anoint someone is to set him or her apart for a specific purpose or task.
To anoint is to bestow holy office on someone.
Christ is anointed by virtue of his identity as the second person of the Godhead, his mission of redemption, and his office as head of the church.
So Matthew is writing to convince Jews to accept Jesus as their promised Messiah and receive salvation through their belief in this truth.
So unsurprisingly, fulfillment of prophecy is a major theme in the book of Matthew and it begins with the birth of Christ.
Now for you and me, we read this and accept it as historically accurate.
Believing in a virgin birth is a big deal.
We are called to believe in something that has only happened once in all of history.
Can it really be true?
Critics say that Matthew is guilty of ripping Isaiah 7:14 out of its context and misappropriating this to Christ.
They say the prophecy never applied to him.
Why is the virgin birth so crucial to our faith?
Why was it necessary?
Is Jesus really born of a virgin?
What if they lied about it?
These are some of the tings we will explore this morning.
The Bible presents the case that Mary was indeed a virgin when she conceived.
In verse 18 of Matthew 1, Matthew says this came about “before they came together.”
Mary was found to be with child before the wedding took place.
In ancient Israel, a young couple went through a betrothal period where they were considered as married to the extent that a certificate of divorce was needed to dissolve the marriage.
But though thy were considered married perhaps in legal terms, the couple was not actually married until the day of the ceremony.
Now for a couple to engage in intercourse prior to their wedding day would have been a major sin.
Some try to argue that Mary cheated on Joseph and used the virgin conception story as a cover-up, but in Luke 1:34 Mary receives word from an angel that she will conceive a son and she asks how this can be since she is still a virgin?
When we read virgin in Luke 1:34, it literally means “I have known no man.”
Mary’s own testimony is that she is a virgin.
To dismiss this requires more than speculation.
We need evidence that he gospel writers reported falsely.
Instead, we have very good reasons the gospel writers reported the truth.
The virgin birth does fulfill prophecy.
Critics of our faith have claimed that this prophecy doesn’t pertain to Jesus because they didn’t even name him Immanuel.
They named him Jesus.
We will get to that in a second.
The other claim is that the prophecy originally had nothing to do with Jesus.
It had to do with king Ahaz.
And that is a fair point.
So let’s look at that.
Turn over to Isaiah 7.
In Isaiah 7 Israel was in the middle of a civil war.
After the death of Solomon, the nation divided into two.
Ten tribes assembled in the north and retained the name Israel while two tribes gathered in the south and took on the name Judah.
An alliance had formed between Israel and Aram, a neighboring kingdom, to stand against Assyria.
When Judah would not join them, they turned on them and attacked Jerusalem.
The siege of Jerusalem fails, but Ahaz the king is terrified.
God sends Isaiah to Ahaz and prophesies that the alliance between Israel and Aram will crumble and the siege of Jerusalem will not come to pass.
In verse 11, God tells Ahaz to ask for a sign that this will come to pass.
Ahaz refuses.
So God chooses to give him a sign anyway, and that is what we read in Isaiah 7:14.
Admittedly, there are some difficulties here.
Some believe that this prophecy only pertains to Jesus, but if that is the case, there is a problem with the next few verses.
Now, one could argue that this could still fit Christ, but why would God give Ahaz a prophecy that he would never live to see fulfilled?
If this prophecy only pertains to Christ, we have a problem because Jerusalem did fall before the arrival of Christ.
It fell when the Babylonians came and exiled the southern kingdom in 586 BC.
The prophecy had to have an immediate fulfillment, and it did because in the very next chapter of Isaiah we see the alliance crumble.
The point here is that both an immediate fulfillment for Ahaz and a future fulfillment in Christ are in view.
The original audience would not have seen the future fulfillment when Isaiah was written.
God kept that hidden until Matthew penned his gospel.
The same Holy Spirit who moved the Old Testament authors to pen the pages of scripture is the same Holy Spirit who revealed to Matthew the double meaning of Isaiah 7:14.
So to say that Isaiah 7:14 had an immediate fulfillment is true, but it is also true to say that God knew that the same would be true of his son who would come into the world centuries later.
But could the virgin birth actually be possible?
If the Bible says it, why would we have reason to doubt it?
Well, there is a prevailing worldview permeating every aspect of our culture.
We refer to it as philosophical naturalism.
Philosophical naturalism:
The natural world is all there is.
There is no God, no supernatural, no miracles.
Science can explain everything.
Whether it is called by this name, this is the worldview taught in our schools today.
In philosophical naturalism, there is no room for the divine.
The divine does not exist.
It is a fantasy, a fairy tale.
The problem is that there are phenomenon in our world that science cannot adequately explain, bit we are asked to have faith that one day it will.
It is interesting that even in a philosophical naturalist worldview, faith is still required.
So miracles are ruled out from the beginning because there is nothing beyond the natural world.
But if God exists, miracles are possible, and we certainly believe God exists as he has revealed himself in the pages of scripture.
We believe in a God who spoke all things into existence from nothing.
Surely a God like that has the power to create the genetic material to cause a virgin in Israel some 2000 years ago to conceive.
That is not a difficult task for the creator of the universe.
So Mary didn’t need to cheat on Joseph, nor did they need to fool around before the wedding night for God to bring Jesus into the world.
If that were the case, Jesus would have not been the Messiah.
To deny the virgin birth of Christ is to deny the authority of scripture.
The fact that it did happen only adds to the marvel of the miracle!
Could you imagine if virgin births happened more often?
Then it wouldn’t be such a surprise!
But if scripture lies to us about this one event, its trustworthiness goes out the window.
Why was the virgin birth necessary?
Remember that the fundamental human problem is that we are sinful.
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