Yesterday, a Christian friend helped me to have a better understanding of Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23.
However, a careful examination of the context of Isaiah 7 proves that the writer of Matthew made a nonsensical application. The context is that Judah, under king Ahaz, is being attacked by two rival kings. Ahaz is given a prophecy that a sign will be given that these kings will fail to conquer Judah. It says that the sign will be that a maiden -- a young girl, not a virgin -- would give birth to a child who would be called Immanuel. Ahaz is then told by the prophet, in Isaiah 7:16 (NASB):
For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
So context alone proves that this has nothing to do with a Messiah that would come hundreds of years after Ahaz and his contemporaries were dead. Not a single word in Isaiah 7 indicates a fulfillment of the prophecy beyond a few years.
First of all, AlanF, you made a mistake -- in Isaiah 7:13-14 the person being spoken to was not Ahaz, it was the House of David -- the nation of Israel (Ahaz had correctly refused to test God):
Isaiah 7:13-14: He said, "Listen now, house of David: Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that you will weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you [plural] a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel.
My Christian friend helped me to realize that in my previous post on this Thread, I was basing my answers on the fact that the prophecy was given to Ahaz, and that the prophecy had to have an immediate fulfillment.
Not a single word in Isaiah 7 indicates a fulfillment of the prophecy beyond a few years.
But, actually, where does the context state that it has to have an immediate fulfillment? The prophecy simply says:
"For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken."
Why couldn't that simply mean that before the Messiah arrives, the land of those two kings will be forsaken?
Here are the comments my friend told me:
"Isaiah Chapter 7, Verses 10-12 tell us that God offered to give Ahaz a sign and Ahaz correctly refused--opting instead to take God's Word by faith. Then God says in verse 13, "Hear ye now, O house of David." Obviously, God turned from speaking to Ahaz directly and directed His prophetic Words instead to Judah as a nation. "The Lord Himself shall give you a sign....." The nation would (and did) receive the sign of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. And verse 16 correctly makes the point that before the Messiah is old enough to know right from wrong, "the land that thou abhorrest (speaking of Israel--the enemy of Judah because of their civil war) will be forsaken of both her kings." Of course by the time the Lord was born, Israel had no kings because they had been taken into captivity and never returned as a nation. The statement in Isaiah 7:14 was made to the nation of Judah--whose people survived the Babylonian captivity and were briefly reestablished in the land where they rebuilt the Temple." [end of quote]
I now have a much better and clearer understanding of the prophecy -- it DID NOT have an immediate fulfillment. Its ONLY fulfillment was in the Messiah who was truly Immanuel -- GOD WITH US in the Flesh!
Also, I believe that the translators of the Greek Septuagint (which was completed BEFORE the time of Christ) would have been much better at deciding whether or not it should read "virgin" or "maiden" in Isaiah 7:14 than the modern language "experts" are.
Also, it would seem very reasonable to me that the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 was connected with the prophecy in Isaiah 9:6-7:
Isaiah 9:6-7: For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the Government shall be on His shoulder: and His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His Government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his Kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Hosts will perform this.
And there is absolutely no one other than the Messiah who could fulfill Isaiah 9:6-7.
Let me know what you think about these comments.