The Book of Isaiah
A SIGN, A SON, AND A CHOICE
Text: ISAIAH 7:14-16
1. We have been studying the book of Isaiah on Sunday evenings for a couple of months now, and last Sunday evening we saw that King Ahaz, the king of Judah was in a very dangerous predicament.
2. The kingdom of Judah was in a condition of imminent peril. Two monarchs, the king of Israel and the king of Syria, had joined themselves against Judah.
3. Syria and Israel had come up against the walls of Jerusalem, intending to raze them to the ground and utterly destroy the kingdom of Judah (Isa. 7:1, 2).
4. King Ahaz was in great trouble, but rather than look to the Lord for help, he turned to the heathen king of Assyria.
5. However, the Lord graciously sent Isaiah the prophet to the troubled king (7:3-9).
6. We do not know King Ahaz’s response. He should have been thankful and encouraged. But the Bible tells us that Ahaz was not a saved man. He was not a good king. Perhaps he was skeptical.
7. In any event, Isaiah told him to ask for a sign. “Ask it,” he said, “either in the depth, or in the height above” (7:11).
8. But instead of accepting this offer with all gratitude, as he should have done, King Ahaz, with a pretended humility, declared that he would not ask, neither would he tempt the Lord (7:12).
9. Then, the prophet Isaiah, offended at King Ahaz’s unbelief and phony piety, tells him that since he would not, in obedience to God’s command, ask for a sign, behold, the Lord, Himself, would give him one.
I. THE SIGN (ISA. 7:14)
1. I can never recall ever doubting the virgin birth of Christ. In fact, after I was saved I was surprised when I discovered that many so-called Christian preachers and scholars denied the virgin birth of Christ.
2. I referred last Sunday evening to the inaccurate and dangerous RSV, published by the liberal NCC.
3. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, RSV).
4. This is a deliberate attack on the virgin birth of Christ by so-called scholars who profess to be Christian but are no more Christian than Osama ben Laden or the Dalai Lama.
5. This Hebrew word, almah, translated “virgin” in the KJV and mistranslated as “young woman” in the RSV, is found seven times in the OT and in every instance it can only mean “virgin.”
6. For example, in Genesis 24:43, we read, “Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water...”
7. Notice that Rebekah is referred to as a virgin in both Genesis 24:43 and in Genesis 24:16, where it says, “And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her…”
8. But the strongest evidence we have of the virgin birth is found in Matthew 1:22, 23. Here there can be no doubt that Isaiah was prophesying the virgin birth of Christ.
9. The prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign” (Isa. 7:14). A young woman conceiving and bearing a son is not a “sign.”
10. But a virgin giving birth is a miraculous sign from heaven. You will recall the first promise of the Messiah was given in the Garden of Eden. The Lord said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
11. All others born into this world come by the seed of the man, but not the Messiah; He came through the woman. This important Bible prophecy goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.
12. We must be very careful what we read. We must be very careful what preachers we listen to. Over 100 years ago, the great Baptist preacher CH Spurgeon said this, “It has been said that the passage I have taken for my text (Isa. 7:14) is one of the most difficult in all the Word of God. It may be so – I certainly did not think it was until I saw what the commentators had to say about it and I rose up from reading them perfectly confused!”
13. Unfortunately there are many so-called Christian scholars who are very good at confusing people. Let me say that they be scholarly (in a worldly way) but they are not Christian.
14. No man who denies the virgin birth of Christ can be saved. These religious racketeers have never been born again.
15. Listen to this quote from John Shelby Spong, a liberal bishop in the Episcopalian denomination: “Am I suggesting that these stories of the virgin birth are not literally true? The answer is a simple and direct ‘Yes.’ Of course these narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn Saviour” (Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture).
16. Note that this wicked liberal says, “Virgins do not give birth.” But what does the Bible say? (Luke 1:26-34; Matt. 1:18-25).
17. I believe the Bible. I believe God. I do not believe men like Bishop Spong.
II. THE SON (ISA. 7:14)
1. The “Son” is identified as “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (cf. Matthew 1:23).
2. Isaiah prophesied of “the Son” in 9:6 and 7. Here the Son is identified as “The mighty God” (9:6).
3. First Timothy 3:16 says, “God was manifest in the flesh.”
4. In John 1:1 Christ is called the Word, and it says, “The Word was God.” Then in John 1:14, the Bible says, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” This is the virgin birth.
5. The virgin birth of Christ is one of the most important doctrines in the Bible, because if Jesus Christ is not “God with us,” then we do not have a sinless Saviour.
6. The angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
7. It is no coincidence that those who deny the virgin birth of Christ also deny His deity. Listen to these words from Ian Paisley:
8. Our Lord had to be born of a virgin, apart from natural human generation, because He existed before His mother was born. Do you recall what our Lord said in John 8:58? “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
9. If He was around before Abraham, then He certainly existed before Mary. This is the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ.
10. Furthermore, Christ is eternal (Micah 5:2). As God, Christ has all of the divine attributes.
11. He was born to a woman, and yet Christ was sent down from heaven (cf. Isa. 9:6).
III. THE CHOICE (ISA. 7:15, 16)
1. Isaiah 7:15 says, “Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”
2. And then again in verse 16, “For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.”
3. This sounds simple enough: the child will grow up knowing to refuse the evil and choose the good. Under Isaiah 7:15, the Scofield Study Bible says, “Indicating the plainness and simplicity of the life in which the young Immanuel should be brought up.”
4. That sounds right. A simple diet of butter and honey reminds us of the true humanity of the child to be born of the virgin. When our Lord wanted to convince His disciples that He was flesh, and not spirit, He took a piece of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb, and ate as others did.
5. Our Lord said to them, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).
6. Furthermore, in the Bible, eating honey is often compared to eating God’s Word (cf. Psalm 19:10; 119:103; Ezekiel 3:3; Rev. 10:10).
7. We know that our Lord chose the good – He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8).
8. Our Lord chose the good, and so must we. And how are we to know what is good? By feeding on God’s Word.
9. Our Lord said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
10. Let us feed on God’s Word. Let us be guided by God’s Word.
11. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
12. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Ps. 119:130).
13. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15).
Someone asked Dr. Henry Morris the following question, “Must a Christian accept the doctrine of the virgin birth?” He replied: “For some reason both ancient and modern skeptics have based much of their attack on Christianity on the Biblical teaching that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. The virgin birth, of course, in addition to requiring a biological miracle, would also imply that Jesus Christ was absolutely unique among men and would be consistent with His claims that He was the only begotten Son of God. These claims are repugnant to the natural man, and therefore men have sought to destroy them by first attacking their foundation, namely, the doctrine of the virgin birth. It is not surprising that materialists would reject this teaching, but it is sad in our modern era to see so many liberal religious leaders doing the same thing.”