Thursday, June 1st, 2023
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
Gaebelein's Annotated Bible Gaebelein's Annotated
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ gab/ matthew-1.html. 1913-1922.
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Matthew 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/
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Analysis and Annotations
I. The King and the Offer of the Kingdom. Chapters 1-12.
1. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1 .) 2. From Abraham to David. (Matthew 1:2-6 .) 3. From David to the Captivity. (Matthew 1:6-11 .) 4. From the Captivity to the Birth of Christ. (Matthew 1:12-17 ) 5. The Birth of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:18-25 .)
The first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is divided into two parts. In the first to the seventeenth verse we find the genealogy of Jesus Christ, and in the last part of the chapter the account of the birth of the promised One. In the second half we see Him as Son of God and Saviour, while in the first, in the genealogy, His royal descent is proven. He is the rightful heir to David’s throne, and thus His Kingship is legally established.
The two Greek words with which this Gospel begins are “Biblos geneseos,” the book of the generation, which corresponds to a similar Old Testament expression frequently found in the Scriptures (Genesis 6:9 ., etc.) The very beginning of this Gospel shows clearly that this is the Jewish Gospel. The question of genealogy is an all important one for the Jew. The genealogy which appears in the Gospel of Luke does not stand there in the beginning, but it comes in with the third chapter, after the account of the Saviour’s birth, and the ministry of the forerunner, and when He begins His public ministry. In the Gospel of Luke He is the Son of man, and not as in Matthew, the King. In Luke it is a going backward clear to Adam, while in the genealogy in Matthew it is the opposite; not like in Luke, beginning with His earthly name, Jesus, but beginning with Abraham, it goes forward till the end is reached in Joseph, the husband of Mary. The first verse in Matthew may be termed a superscription for the genealogy which follows, Book of generation of Jesus Christ, “Son of David, Son of Abraham.” How truly He is all that, is now to be established, Son of David, because a King is promised to rule in righteousness upon the throne of His father David; but in a larger sense, Seed of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed, and the nations to receive spiritual blessings. How incorrect it would have been if it had said, Book of generation of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David. That would have been the rendering by man, but the Holy Spirit puts David here before Abraham, though in the genealogy itself Abraham is the head, the first one. Jesus Christ is first the Son of David, and as such He is to be presented to the nation Israel , as King, and to be rejected by them. He is after that in the wider sense the One through whom the promises of blessing in Abraham to the nations are to be fulfilled. How clearly this proves the verbal inspiration! Indeed, if there is no verbal inspiration there is no inspiration at all.
It is not rarely the case that readers of the New Testament have asked themselves why all these names appear in the first chapter. We have answered many questions and have written numerous letters during the last eight years in answer to inquiries from the Jews on account of the genealogy, as it appears here, and the apparent contradictions and discrepancies between Matthew and Luke. Many a Jew has come and asked, Why must a man have two genealogies, and which is the right one? When the Jew takes the New Testament and opens it with Matthew, he finds himself upon familiar ground. It is the first question with him, if Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, Son of David, it must be proven by a genealogy. Does the New Testament, in the genealogies in Matthew and in Luke, prove this? is the important question the Jew asks. We have often asked the Jewish inquirer, Supposing Jesus of Nazareth was not the Messiah, not the Son of David, then you would expect the coming of a Messiah who is a Son of David, born in Bethlehem; how could that coming Messiah prove that he is really the Son of David, when your genealogical registers have been lost centuries ago? Others, too, have had difficulty on account of these two genealogies. We will state the case and what they teach in a few words.
In the genealogy of Matthew Jesus Christ is shown to be the King legally; in the Gospel of Luke we have His genealogy as the Son of Man, and as such linked with the whole race. The genealogy in Matthew proves that Joseph is a descendant of David through the house of Solomon. The one in the Gospel of Luke proves that Mary, the virgin, is likewise a descendant of David, but not through the house of Solomon; she is connected with David through the house of Nathan. The Messiah was to be born of a virgin, one who must be a descendant of David. But a woman has no right to the throne. As the son of the virgin alone He could not have a legal right to the throne. For this reason to make the One begotten in her of the Holy Ghost, the rightful heir to the throne of David in the eyes of the nation, the virgin had to be the wife of a man who had a perfect, unchallenged right to the throne. Now the genealogy in Matthew shows that Joseph is a son of David, and thus entitled to the throne, therefore Jesus is legally in this way heir to the throne. He is the legal descendant and heir of David through Joseph, but never Joseph’s Son. He was supposed by the people to be the Son of Joseph. “And Jesus Himself, when He began to teach, was about thirty years of age; being, as was supposed, the Son of Joseph” (Luke 3:23 ). “And they said, Is not this the Son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22 ). His claim as being truly the Son of David was therefore never disputed. Now if He had been the Son of Joseph according to the flesh, He would never be and could never be our Saviour. The 51st Psalm would then have found an application. “I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” On the other hand, if He had been the Son of Mary, without she being legally the wife of a Son of David, the Jews would have rejected His claim from the very outset. We see then that legally He was the Son of Joseph; in His humanity, He is the Son of Mary, and then one step higher, as we read in the closing verses, He is the Son of God. The two genealogies show Him as King -- Son of man and Son of God -- as the One born of Mary, but begotten in her of the Holy Ghost.
The genealogy in Matthew speaks of decadence. Corruption, ruin and hopelessness is clearly brought out in it. It begins with Abraham. And as generation after generation is mentioned, it puts before us the shameful history of Israel , with their unbelief, apostasy and judgments. At last it becomes all dark and all hopeless as far as Israel is concerned. Like Sarah’s womb, as she indeed stands in type for the nation, the whole nation was dead, no hope, all ruin and corruption. But God can bring life from the dead. “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, come of woman, come under the law, that He might redeem those under the law, that we might receive sonship” (Galatians 4:4 ). It is so with this present dispensation, for after awhile when the Lord has taken to Himself His Church, darkness, ruin and evil will prevail, and in the darkest hour of Israel’s believing remnant and in the history of the world, the Firstborn will come again into the habitable world surrounded by worshipping angels (Hebrews 1:6 ).
The division of the genealogy is threefold. From Abraham to David, from David to the carrying away into the Babylonian captivity, and from the carrying away into Babylon to Christ (Matthew 1:17 ). In each division are fourteen generations, twice seven in each division. This brings in perfect harmony and order, as He who has given it all is the Spirit of order and not disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33 ). Seven is a highly symbolical number, peculiar to Israel . Much of the history of Israel is divided into seven; the seventy years of Captivity, the seventy prophetic weeks in Daniel, the last week still future composed of seven years, etc., are well-known facts to every reader of the Word. Here it is three .times twice seven, which means fulfillment and completeness. A closer investigation shows at once that a number of generations have been left out. Attempts have been made to explain this in different ways. Many poor, shortsighted men have put it down as an error, and higher critics and unbelievers have pointed it out as an argument against the inspiration of the Word, and as an example of the contradictions, which, according to them, exist in the Scriptures. Others have charged Matthew with ignorance, and that by not knowing any better, he left these generations out. As a Jew, he was, without question, well acquainted with the Old Testament writings. He had full access to all the collections of books which we term Old Testament. Out of the historical books it would have been a very easy matter to get together a complete register of names, such as would have been in full accord with the object in view to satisfy the Jew. Man indeed would have done that if he had to write the genealogy, but Matthew did not write according to his own taste or wish; the Holy Spirit wrote every word, and He has found it good to make a number of omissions. For this reason, that which is so often claimed to prove that there are contradictions in the Bible, and that the Bible is not infallible, is really a witness for the divinity of the Scriptures. In all this arrangement, leaving out and changing, the Holy Spirit has a wise purpose, and it does not follow, if we in our shortsightedness do not understand it all, that there must be an error involved somewhere. He has the right to do it, and it has been His pleasure to leave out generations. This is also so in the case of another Old Testament genealogy (see Ezra 7:1-28 ).
The most prominent omission is in verse eight. Three kings are left out. These are Ahaziah, Joash and Amaziah. Who were they? They are the descendants of the daughter of wicked Ahab, Athaliah. Athaliah desired to annihilate the kingly seed of the house of Judah. This was a satanic attempt to frustrate the purposes of God. It was, like Haman’s attempt, inspired by him who is a murderer from the beginning. It may be called Anti-Messianity. This is undoubtedly the reason why the Holy Spirit left out these three kings.
Another apparent difficulty is the one concerning Jechoniah (verse 11), Zorobabel and Salathiel. The last two are in the genealogy in Luke, and Zorobabel being called a son of Salathiel when 1 Chronicles 3:10 . speaks of him as a son of Pedaiah.
We give a few hints, which will be helpful in the correct understanding. Jehoiakim is often called by the name of his son Jechoniah. Both have the same meaning translated from the Hebrew, Jehovah will establish. Jehoiakim was carried away into Babylon (2 Kings 24:15 ). He has had brethren, which Jechoniah had not (1 Chronicles 3:15 ). Thus it becomes clear that Jechoniah is Jehoiakim. In the twelfth verse we have Jechoniah, the son of Jehoiakim, because Salathiel is the son of Jechoniah (1 Chronicles 3:17 ). Read also Jeremiah 22:30 .
Upon the line of Solomon there was then a curse, and Joseph is in connection with that line. Upon the line of Nathan there was no curse, and thus in His birth from Mary He is in truth the Son of David, still in the eyes of the nation He was it legally in Joseph.
If Zorobabel and Salathiel appear in Luke we may take them as different persons. The difficulty of Zorobabel being the son of Salathiel here and the son of Pedaiah in Chronicles may be solved by the levirate law.
Other striking facts come to our knowledge when we go through the list of the generations, each one is highly significant. We mention a few only. Judah is mentioned, because the prophecy of Jacob makes it clear that from him the Shiloh would come (Genesis 49:10 ). We are reminded of something else in the phrase, Judah and his brethren, namely, of Judah’s sin and his brethren’s in selling their own brother, and all that is connected with it.
David alone has the title, the king (verse 6). Solomon’s name is there, but there is no kingship attached to it. The unbelieving Jew, as he tries to reject prophecies concerning the Messiah, has always made a strong point of this, that the promises given to David concerning a son were all fulfilled in Solomon. Solomon according to them is the king, and higher than David in his rule and dominion. How striking then that the Holy Spirit gives the name simply Solomon without adding, the king, to it. David is the king and no other can have the title, till his son come: even He who came and whom David called Lord (Psalms 110:1 ). Thus the angel announced Him, the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
In the last fourteen generations beginning with Zorobabel, we find no more prominent names. Only two of them are recorded in the Old Testament. Zorobabel means, Born in Babel, and his son Abiud, which means, Perishing. However, the most interesting fact is the four women who are mentioned in the genealogy. Three of them are found in the first division and the fourth in the second one. Women in a genealogy is something which is very rarely the case. There were many noble, devoted and believing women in the Old Testament. Sarah, Rebekah, Deborah, and women received their dead raised to life again, and others were tortured not accepting deliverance (Hebrews 11:35 ). One would naturally expect that in the genealogy of Him who is the seed of the woman to bruise the serpent’s head, some of these women who believed the promise would be mentioned. However, we look in vain for them. Instead of them we discover four, who are only known, at least three, by their shame, and the other belonged to a race which was according to the law cursed. Let us look into the names and history of these four women.
Tamar is the first. Her shameful history of fornication is recorded in Genesis 38:1-30 . What a dark story it is, full of the evil deeds of the flesh. Sin in its blackness is seen there. But how did she get into the genealogy? The answer is, by her sin. It was her shameful sin that puts her here in the genealogy of Him who has come to save that which is lost, the Saviour of men. The Holy Spirit has put her name in and shows by it that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners. He has come to save the vilest and the lowest. And the second one is Rahab. Who was she? A Canaanitess. Unclean and outcast, a harlot full of abomination. Yet here is her name too linked with Salmon (meaning clothed) and Boaz, her son, which means, “In strength.” She had believed the messengers as they had come, and the scarlet thread, the sign of her deliverance from the doomed city, was in her window. “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:31 ). It was faith by which she came into line. Every Jew knew her history and knew too that she had come in to share Israel’s blessings. Still the proud Pharisees murmured when Jesus sat down and ate and drank with the publicans and the sinners and the outcasts gathered around Him, murmuring because He sought the lowest.
Ruth, the third woman mentioned, is an exception, for there is no stain upon her character. She was a Moabitess. The law was against her and cursed her. It is written, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord forever” (Deuteronomy 23:3 ). But in faith too she enters into the congregation with her children, and the third after her, her grandson, is King David himself. The law which had pronounced the curse is completely set aside in her case.
The fourth woman is not mentioned by name -- Her of Uriah, that is all it says. We know it is Bath-Sheba, the one with whom King David committed adultery. Here it is sin in connection with a believer. Did that sin committed by King David then undo him as a believer? No, he had believed and grace had full sway over him.
What a wonderful demonstration of the whole and full Gospel of Grace as it is in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ! We see sin -- Faith as it lays hold and salvation by faith -- deliverance from the law -- and then the case of the believer, the assurance of salvation. Grace -- nothing but grace shines out as nowhere else in the genealogy, in the four women, all four Gentiles. Hannah broke out in her prophetic song and said, “He lifteth up the needy from the dunghill, to make them sit with princes and inherit the throne of glory” (1 Samuel 2:8 ). How truly this is seen with Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bath-Sheba. What comfort in this fact for us all!
He is Son of Abraham. Through Him the blessing is to go out to the greatest sinner, to the deepest in misery and in want, blessing to the Gentiles in the new dispensation of grace.
We come now to the account of His birth. Here He is presented as human and divine, born of a virgin and at the same time Jehovah-Saviour, Emmanuel, God with us. If Matthew 1:1-17 were all that could be said of His birth, He might then have had a legal right to the throne, but He could never have been He who was to redeem and save from sin. But the second half before us shows Him to be truly the long promised One, the One of whom Moses and the prophets spake, to whom all the past manifestations of God in the earth and the types, pointed. To accomplish the work of salvation, to suffer the penalty of sin and to put away sin He had to be divine and human.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was thus: His mother, Mary, that is having been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. But Joseph, her husband, being righteous, and unwilling to expose her publicly, purposed to have her put away secretly; but while he pondered on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take to thee thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.
“Now all this came to pass that that might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us. But Joseph having awoke from his sleep did as the angel of the Lord enjoined him, and took to him his wife, and knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn Son; and he called His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:18-25 )
How simple all this sounds; yet here are depths which no human mind can or ever will fathom. All attempts to explain will utterly fail. Faith worships here and looks with profound adoration upon the mystery made known, God manifested in the flesh. The Lord stood before Abraham, clothed in the form of a human being, eating and drinking (Genesis 18:1-33 ). What humiliation that was for Him even then, but how much deeper and far-reaching it is here? It is now His mother, Mary, which is prominent in the record. Born of a woman Paul says in Galatians 4:1-31 . This directs our attention to the very first promise made in Genesis 3:1-24 : “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise His heel.” This is the first promise of a Deliverer.
We often read in the prophetic Word, I am He. The Hebrews have the word “Hu” (He) as a divine name. In the ancient book of Zohar the word “He” is applied to the eternal God bruising the serpent’s head. He is to be the seed of the woman, not of Adam, the man. Interesting is the following quotation from an ancient exposition of the Jews. “The voice which our first parents heard walking in the garden was the Word of the Lord, or the Messiah. Before they sinned they saw the glory of the blessed God speaking with them, but after their sin they heard only the voice walking. The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent, and they shall obtain healing in the days of the Messiah.”
Mary was that elect woman, a virgin, from whom the One seed came. She was betrothed to Joseph, the Son of David, and so that there should not even be the shadow of a doubt, it is added, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Ghost. Righteous Joseph pondering on these things and as a righteous man undoubtedly praying to God about it, is visited by an angel of the Lord. Even the little word “an” is here of importance. We hear much in the Old Testament of the angel of the Lord. He appears often as the mediator between God and man. He has divine names and attributes. He appeared in the form of man to Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, the children of Israel, Joshua, Gideon, Manoah, and to Manoah’s wife. Jacob calls him the angel, the Redeemer. In Isaiah 63:9 he is called the angel of His face. Indeed all through the Old Testament Jehovah and His glory is in him revealed, so that in these manifestations we see the incarnation foretold. The very name of God was in him (Exodus 23:20 ). The old Jewish synagogue believed correctly that this angel of the Lord is the word of God, the Messiah. The One who appeared as the angel, is now to be born of the virgin. He emptied Himself, taking a servant’s form, taking His place in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:7 ). If the writing of the Gospel of Matthew had been the work of an impostor, he would surely have written, that the angel of the Lord came to Joseph, instead of an angel. So even the little word, an, brings out the verbal inspiration.
In the Gospel of Luke we read that the angel Gabriel (the same who announced to Daniel the coming of the Messiah and the time of the end), was sent of God to Mary, and came in to her and said, “Hail, favored one! the Lord is with thee. But she, seeing the angel, was troubled at his word, and reasoned in her mind what this salutation might be. And the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in the womb to bear a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David; and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for the ages, and of His kingdom there shall not be an end. But Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I know not a man? And the angel answering said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and power of the Highest overshadow thee, wherefore the holy thing also which shall be born shall be called Son of God” (Luke 1:28-35 ). In reading this one almost hears the voice which spoke to Moses, Take off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Both Gospels bring it out clearly that it is the Son of God, the eternal Word, who becomes a man, truly the child of His virgin mother, flesh and blood, a real human body like ours, but a holy thing, that is absolutely without sin. His human nature proceeded directly from the Spirit of God. No other being could have saved us.
The Old Testament speaks often of this great event, the birth of the Saviour, and that He is to be divine and human in His person. He is called the Branch (Zemach). In Isaiah He is called, The branch of Jehovah, and in other prophets, The branch of David. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:7 ). There is a very important and remarkable passage in Jeremiah, “The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall encompass a man” (Jeremiah 31:22 ). This belongs to a Messianic prophecy as shown by the context. It is a new thing which is to take place, and a creation. This could never be said of the birth of a child in the natural way. Even one of the ancient rabbis acknowledges that Jeremiah 31:22 speaks of Messiah, and that by the woman a virgin is meant. In the Jewish writings, some of them of great antiquity, much is said on the origin and birth of the Christ. We quote but a few of the most important words of the rabbis. “Several state that Messiah is to have no earthly father.” “The birth of the Messiah alone shall be without any defects.” “His birth shall not be like that of other men.” “The birth of the Messiah shall be like the dew of the Lord, as drops upon the grass without the action of man.”
That this exposition of the Scriptures concerning the miraculous birth of the Messiah was generally believed at the time of our Lord is seen from the Gospel of John. “Is not this He whom they seek to kill? and behold He speaks openly and they say nothing to Him. Have the rulers then indeed recognized that this is the Christ? But as to this man we know whence He is. Now, as to the Christ, when He comes no one knows whence He is (John 7:27 ). With this they acknowledged that they believed that with the birth of the Christ a mystery is connected. They thought then they knew who Jesus of Nazareth is; “And they said, is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we have known? How then does he say I am come down from heaven?” (John 6:24 ). Many centuries later wicked Jews wrote a vulgar and blasphemous account of the birth of our Lord, but the early Jews, it seems never attempted to contradict the first chapter in Matthew.
The angel bade Joseph not to fear, and make known to him not only that that which is begotten in Mary is of the Holy Ghost, but he said also, “She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
The word Jesus is taken from the Hebrew Jehoshua, which means, Jehovah is the Saviour. It is the precious name in which the whole story of salvation is contained. The people of Jehovah are His people, because He is Jehovah, and left His eternal glory, His riches, and became poor, to save them from their sins. When Moses stood in the presence of this descended Lord, who proclaimed before him the name of the Lord, Moses said, “If now I have found grace in Thy sight, O Lord,” saying this looking to heaven, “let my Lord,” the One who had come down and stood before him, “I pray thee go among us; for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquities and our sin, and take us for Thine inheritance.” (Exodus 34:9 .). And He has come, Jesus, who is able to save His people from their sins, because He is God, and gracious, as revealed to Moses in the mountain. They rejected Him and His salvation. They are scattered among the nations, blinded and hardened, but He is nevertheless Jesus who shall save His people. He has bought the field and the treasure in it. He will come again and turn away ungodliness from Jacob and remember their sins no more. Yes, He will come again and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever. Saul of Tarsus heard the voice from heaven, which said, “I am Jesus!” It is very significant that He spoke thus to the one who became the apostle to the Gentiles, and who in many respects is a type of the whole nation in unbelief and in their coming conversion. He saved Saul of Tarsus. He will save all Israel yet. For believers, His name is not simply Jesus, but for us, the church, He is both Saviour and Lord, and the right way to address Him is by His full name, as it is by the resurrection from among the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ.
With the declaration that He shall save His people from their sins the message of the angel was completed. It is now Matthew, and through Matthew of course the Holy Spirit, who continues. The most vital passage of the Old Testament is brought to the front. This is the familiar prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 , which reads, “Behold a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel.” Like most all the other Messianic prophecies, this one has also been the target of “Higher Criticism.” These learned (?) critics have made some very ridiculous utterances on this sublime prophecy, and said that it is anything but Messianic. They stand not alone, but are in company with rationalistic Jews and other infidels, who serve the power of darkness -- the one who is the falsifier of God’s Word from the beginning. Some of this infidel trash of Wellshausen, etc., is continually being rehashed by some of the so-called professors in theological “evangelical” seminaries in this country. Alas! how true still, professing themselves wise, they became fools. Higher criticism is nothing else but infidelity and foolishness.
It is with these critics, who are the educators of the coming preachers in the different denominations, a question what Isaiah wrote and what he did not write, what is genuine and what is added to by another hand. So it is being taught that Isaiah spoke of his own wife when he uttered the words which are before us. Now beware how you treat this prophecy! Matthew 1:22 says that not the prophet said these words, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child,” but the Lord Himself spoke these words through the prophet. A denial of Isaiah 7:14 that it is not a Messianic prophecy is a denial of the integrity of the New Testament, a denial of the Lord. How does any one dare to say the prophet did not utter a prophecy at all, that it is not to be understood as meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, when the Holy Spirit in the very first chapter in the New Testament declares that it is a Messianic prophecy, and that it has found its fulfillment in the person of our Lord? If there were no other evidence whatever in the Old Testament, nay, if there were many difficulties connected with it Matthew 1:22 would settle it all and would be sufficient proof in itself for what the Lord meant when He spoke these words through Isaiah the prophet.
But there is nothing whatever in Isaiah 7:1-25 which would in any way show that the prophecy is not Messianic. The Lord spoke the promise at a time when the house of David was discouraged and disheartened, and King Ahaz, instead of trusting the Lord, continued in unbelief. The prophet asks him to demand a sign from the Lord, but he rejects the offer under the plea that he would not tempt God. Upon this the prophet said that the Lord Himself shall give you a sign, and the prophecy then spoken is the sign for the discouraged king and the house of David. In other words, Messiah is to be born, He is to come from Judah, and from the house of David. How could he, the king, fear destruction and extermination? This was the comfort of the sign. The birth of Him is a sign -- something extraordinary, a miracle, and therefore the promise of comfort begins with the prophetic word, “Behold.” We will not enter into fuller discussion of the seventh chapter of Isaiah, nor answer the arguments which are brought against the Hebrew word used here for virgin; all this would be of little value and profit to most of our readers. [“ That the word _almoh, in Isaiah denotes an untouched virgin, sufficiently appears from the sense of the passage Isaiah 7:14 . King Ahaz was afraid lest the enemies that were now upon him might destroy Jerusalem and utterly consume the house of David. The Lord meets this fear by a sign and most remarkable promise, namely, ‘that sooner should a pure virgin bring forth a child than the family of David perish.’ And the promise yields a double comfort: namely, of Christ hereafter to be born of a virgin; and of their security from the imminent danger of the city and house of David. So that, although that prophecy, of a virgin’s bringing forth a son, should not be fulfilled till many hundreds of years after, yet, at that present time, when the prophecy was made, Ahaz had a certain and notable sign, that the house of David should be safe and secure from the danger that hung over it. As much as if the prophet had said: ‘Be not so troubled O Ahaz, does it not seem an impossible thing to thee, that never will happen, that a pure virgin become a mother? But I tell thee such a virgin shall bring forth a son, before the house of David perish.’“ -- Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae by Lightfoot. ]
Some have seen a difficulty that the child was to be named Emmanuel, and instead of this name, He is named Jesus. The Jew often comes with this question. We point out to him that this apparent contradiction is really a proof of the inspiration. How easy it would have been for Matthew to have all fit in so that every word would be in harmony with the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit guided his hand in writing. The prophecy in the Old Testament says, “And call His name Immanuel.” Here it says, “They shall call his name.” In the first chapter of Matthew we read that Joseph called the child’s name Jesus, but in Luke we read that Mary calls His name Jesus. The name Emmanuel, God with us, is only given in Matthew. He is Emmanuel, and as such Jehovah the Saviour, so that in reality both names have the same meaning. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (and we have contemplated His glory, a glory as of an only begotten with his Father) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ). He is the exalted One over all.
Joseph was obedient to the word of the Lord as it had come to him through the angel. That Mary had other children is clearly seen from the sixty-ninth Psalm, verses 7 and 8, where it speaks of His suffering: “Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame has covered my face. I am become a stranger to my brethren, even an alien to the children of my mother.”