A Promised Messiah, Prophetic Revelation, Literal Fulfillment
As Christians, God’s Word is His direct revelation of all we believe to be true – the cornerstone of our faith. It is the written revelation of who He is – his revelation to us that He is the creator of the universe, the author of our salvation, and it is His assurance to a fallen world of His all-encompassing love.
As Christians we believe this revelation is the only verbally inspired written Word of God, and is without error, that it is the full and complete revelation of God’s will for the salvation of man, and the Divine and final authority for Christian faith and conduct. We believe it to be God’s objective propositional revelation, and is verbally inspired in every word. We believe the canon is closed and all who add or take away from it shall suffer the wrath of God. This is why we hold to a literal interpretation of God’s Word.
As we continue to look at the prophetic passages regarding the Promised Messiah we will see that the vast multitude of Scripture pointing to Jesus Christ in the Old Testament were all fulfilled literally. Let’s look what Scripture has to say about the birth of Christ. First we will see what God revealed through Isaiah.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).
We see God’s proclamation – His promise to His people of a Redeemer, the Promised One. We are told that this Messiah will be born to a virgin and will be called Immanuel. We then see the fulfillment of this promise in the New Testament.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25).
It was purposeful that God inspired Matthew to devote the opening passages of his Gospel to establish both the complete humanity and the deity of Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus being both human and divine, there is no gospel. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ defines Christ’s humanity. The essence and the power of the gospel is that God became man and that, by being both fully God and fully man, He was able to reconcile men to God. Jesus’ virgin birth, His substitutionary atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and return are all integral aspects of His deity.
It is no wonder that those who would discredit the deity of Christ or the Gospel message itself need to undermine the inerrancy of the written Word. If, for instance, the Virgin birth was not true, the whole of Scripture and certainly the New Testament would be brought into question. If the gospel writers misrepresented who Jesus was, why should we trust their word about anything else Christ said or did?
Jesus once asked the Pharisees a question about Himself: “What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?” (Matthew 22:42). That is the question Matthew answers in the first chapter of his gospel. That is why the Gospel of Matthew comes to us first. It was purposeful that God inspired this Gospel to open the New Testament. Jesus is the human Son of man and the divine Son of God. Even though Scripture points to the Divinity of the Promised Messiah many Pharisees did not believe that the Messiah would be divine. They answered Jesus “The son of David.” Had Jesus not claimed to be more than the son of David, He may have convinced some of them He was the Messiah. Once He claimed to be God, however, they rejected Him immediately. Those Jews that rejected Jesus as Christ did not hold to a literal reading of the prophetic passes regarding the Messiah. A literal reading of those passages would have defined the Messiah’s divinity.
As Christians we must be very careful to examine those that do not hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture. We understand fully that the unbelieving world does not believe God’s Word to be without error or Divinely inspired. Within the body of Christ, however, many liberal mainline churches, for example, have needed to view Scripture as a creation of the human authors and not of God. Without doing so they could not preach the messages they are expounding. I will finish this post with a quote from Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong. “I could not believe that anyone who has read this book would be so foolish as to proclaim that the Bible in every literal word was the divinely inspired, inerrant word of God. Have these people simply not read the text? Are they hopelessly misinformed? Is there a different Bible? Are they blinded by a combination of ego needs and naïveté?” The Bishop needs to hold to this opinion. Just read some of what he has written. It does not emanate from God’s inspired Word.