Matthew, the writer, wanted to make sure his Jewish readers (who were his primary original audience) saw the connection between events in Jesus’ life and the prophesies about the Messiah in their Scriptures, our Old Testament. He writes, “All of this [Jesus’ birth] occurred to fulfil the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’’” (Matthew 1:22-23, NLT). The passage Matthew referred to came from the prophet Isaiah. While it likely had a short-term fulfilment, early Jewish scholars saw in passages like Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 whispers from God about the promised Messiah.
Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in the middle of the twentieth century, the accuracy of messianic prophecies were often chalked up to Christians editing the ancient texts and “writing in” references to Jesus. (Yes, Christian scholars were and are accused of editing the ancient texts even today. Why? Because the accuracy of Jesus fulfilling the ancient prophesies about the first coming of Messiah are staggeringly, miraculously accurate that it seems impossible for it to really happen. Unbelievable, it is. But it happened. Believe that the Hebrew Scriptures, the Bible to be the work of God or remain sceptic). A complete scroll of the Book of Isaiah dating to before the time of Jesus was part of the Qumran treasure trove, giving us documented evidence that prophecies about Jesus were on record long before he was born.
In Isaiah’s immediate context, the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was (and can be) referred to a contemporary fulfilment. But the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy would occur when a virgin (Mary) would actually conceive and bear a son (Jesus) who would be “God with us” – Immanuel. Interestingly, the final verse in Matthew’s Gospel records Jesus saying, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:10) – Jesus was not only born Immanuel, but he remains forever God with us among all peoples, to the end of the age.
Think about this: Because God foreknows, he can foretell. Because God is ultimately in control, what he foretells will come to be. These prophesies invite and test our trust in God. The accuracy of fulfilment that can be traced in Jesus’ life leaves us without excuse when it comes to trusting God’s plan for the world and his plan for our own lives. Question – In what ways are you trusting God today?
God with us.
God with us always.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.