The Immanuel Prophecy Isaiah 7:14-16 -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 15:2 (May 1953)
Article: The Immanuel Prophecy Isaiah 7:14-16
Author: Edward J. Young


The Immanuel Prophecy
Isaiah 7:14-16

Edward J. Young

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the angel of the Lord appeared unto Joseph as he was meditating upon the condition of Mary, to whom he was betrothed,1 and announced that that which had been conceived in her was from the Holy Ghost. She was to bear a son, and Joseph should call his name Jesus, for, continued the angel, “He shall save his people from their sins”. Matthew then adds that all this too place in order that there might be fulfilled that which had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Behold! the virgin will have in the womb and will bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel”.

There are two important conclusions which may be drawn from Matthew’s use of this Old Testament prophecy. In the first place, he very clearly regarded the prophecy as a prediction of the birth of Jesus Christ. The appearance of the angel to Joseph and the announcement of Christ’s birth occurred, we are told, so that the prophecy might be fulfilled. In other words, these events were necessary to the fulfillment of the prediction. It was, the author of the first gospel would have us understand, of the birth of Christ that the prophet was speaking when he uttered the remarkable announcement concerning Immanuel.

In the second place, although the prophecy was indeed spoken by a prophet, nevertheless, it had a higher origin. It

was ultimately the Lord who spake. Matthew does not intend this in some vague and general sense as though the prophecy were merely something which God in his providential ordering of the world permitted to occur. Rather, it was a direct speaking. These words were supernaturally communicated to the prophet by the Lord. They Constituted special revelation. The announcement of the birth of a divine child was not a message of the prophet alone, but was a message spoken by the Lord through the prophet. God, therefore, was the ultimate author.

This interpretation of the New Testament is one which has found ready acceptance upon the part of those who regard the New Testament as divinely inspired. Those, however, who do not share such a high view of the New Testament have not regarded the Old Testament passage as a prophecy of the virgin birth of our Lord.

It is the purpose of this article, in the light of recent discussions to re-examine the passage which the New Testament regards as a prediction of the virgin birth. Does, or does not, Isaiah 7:14–16 contain a direct prediction of Christ? It is that question which we shall seek to answer in the present ...

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