A Difficult Messianic Prophecy -- By: Alfred M. Haggard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:285 (Jan 1915)
Article: A Difficult Messianic Prophecy
Author: Alfred M. Haggard


A Difficult Messianic Prophecy

Alfred M. Haggard

Des Moines, Iowa.

The prophecy of Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14–16, ” says Dr. Milton S. Terry, “is probably the most difficult and enigmatical of all the Messianic prophecies.” It reads as follows: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, when he knoweth to refuse the evil, and choose the good. For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land whose two kings thou abhorrest shall be forsaken.” Of this passage Matthew says: “Now all this came to pass [the miraculous birth of Jesus], that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, (he virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”

The alleged difficulties may be stated as follows: The record in Isaiah calls for a fulfillment shortly after the making of the prophecy and in the lifetime of Isaiah. Matthew alleges a fulfillment hundreds of years after the death of Isaiah. No passage of Scripture has or can have a double meaning. Therefore these writers are in hopeless conflict. We must’ accept Isaiah and reject Matthew, if we would be loyal to the historic method. The difficulty is further emphasized, since but part of the Isaiah prophecy fits the Christ-child. Nor is this all, for there is no virgin in the Isaiah passage. The child is the son of Isaiah, and its mother is the wife of Isaiah, and they have a child some years old at the time of the prophecy. The word in Isaiah vii. 14 translated “virgin” is not the Hebrew word to describe Mary and her alleged vir-

ginity (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:34). Is it any wonder that the difficulties seem insurmountable?

If all these difficulties really exist, I know of no rational solution of the problem. I know of no defense for Matthew. He misrepresents the Lord or blasphemes when he quotes Isaiah 7:14. Fortunately for Matthew and his friends, two items are manufactured. There is no reality back of them. They are fictions, pure and simple.

Double meanings are a well-known characteristic of literature and cannot be ignored. Puns would be impossible without double meanings. The sibylline oracles brought gain to crafty priests, and led kings into ruin, because of really existent double meanings, Biblical literature i...

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