We have another reader contribution to share with you. This one is from SilentKnight (thank you, brother!). I have to say that I find this Scripturally/exegetically convincing for a number of reasons, but time does not permit me to unpack that all myself. In short, I think that Isaiah 7:14, like Revelation 12:5, speaks both of Christ and His Church. Both are necessary parts in the fulfillment of these prophecies.
In light of Revelation 12 and the upcoming sign on September 23, 2017, there have been many discussions about the woman and the man-child that is to be born. We have spoken about her without a name, though sometimes we call her Israel. We have spoken of the child without a name, though many call him Jesus. Some of the divide between groups of believers is tied to the identity of this unnamed child. For months now, as I have watched the debate about who the child is, I have resisted the urge to shout out his name. But I do believe the time has come to share his name.
The woman is Zion, the child is Emmanuel.
Before you dismiss this too quickly, allow me to take you on a short biblical journey. A journey that will possibly leave you with a new appreciation for what is about to take place and what the sign means for Christ's Body. You may also chuckle a little with God as He reveals hidden truth out of error!
I know! We’ve all been taught that Emmanuel is Jesus. Amy Grant even sings about it. We sing about Emmanuel at Christmas. Because of the baby. You know, the one that is Jesus.
But where do we get that from? Why do we believe that Jesus is Emmanuel? Would you believe it all comes from just one verse in Matthew? Let’s take a closer look at the first chapter of Matthew and see what might be hidden there.
What’s in a name?
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived 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 was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel', which being interpreted is, God with us.
Wait, what? "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus." How did this fulfill the word of the prophet saying, "they shall call his name Emmanuel"?
There it is. From this verse, countless songs, sermons, poems, and books have attached the name Emmanuel to Jesus. But God may be hiding something beautiful here. First of all, if we want to take things literally and hold God to account, then technically they didn’t name him Emmanuel which is what the prophecy said. But we have been taught not to question things, so sure, it fulfills the prophecy. And certainly, Jesus is and will be with us in fulfillment of this name (via the Incarnation). So I will not outright steal that name from him. But there is more going on here.
What’s in a number?
There is another problem in Matthew 1 as well. A second "error". Perhaps the two errors work together to form a hidden truth. In Matthew 1:22, Matthew starts by saying, "And all this has come to pass…" We naturally go back to verse 18 where Matthew starts talking about the birth of "Jesus Christ" and we think, that is what the "all this" is that is referred to in Matthew 1:22. But Matthew had already written 17 more verses prior to 18. What if the "all this" included "all that"? So, what is in the first 17 verses? A bunch of names of people who begat a bunch of other people. The kind of stuff you skip over to get to the good stuff. Let’s not skip it this time.
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; And Judas begat Phares and Zara of Thamar; and Phares begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon: And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel; And Zorobabel begat Abiud; and Abiud begat Eliakim; and Eliakim begat Azor; And Azor begat Sadoc; and Sadoc begat Achim; and Achim begat Eliud; And Eliud begat Eleazar; and Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
So, all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.
ALL of this came to pass in order to fulfill the word of the prophet about Emmanuel. But that still leaves us with the Jesus and Emmanuel issue.
So, why does Matthew tell us the number of the generations in verse 17? Can’t we count for ourselves if we really want to know the number? He is telling us so that we will notice that he counted wrong. If he hadn’t told us the count, we never would have noticed a problem, but if you look closely, there are 14 generations between Abraham and David, there are 14 generations between David and Babylon, but (unless you double count Jechonias) there are only 13 generations between Babylon and Jesus. Not 14 like Matthew said. So please permit me the license to simplify Matthew 1 to get straight to the point:
Modified Matthew 1:
These are the generations of Jesus Christ, 14 generations from Abraham to David, fourteen generations from David to Babylon, and 14 generations from Babylon to Christ. Now the birth of JESUS Christ was like this. Mary had a baby and they named him Jesus. All of this fulfills the word of the prophet saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew is differentiating Christ from Jesus Christ. You see, Jesus was the 13th generation. Emmanuel is the 14th generation. Matthew did not count wrong. Nor did he get the fulfillment of prophecy wrong. Matthew was giving us the big picture. Watch what happens when we use this story as a type of things to come.
Modified Matthew 1:18-23:
Now the birth of Emmanuel was on this wise: When as his mother (the bride) was espoused to Jesus, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Jesus her husband, being just, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the Father said to him, Jesus, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.
Glory be to God on high!
So who is Emmanuel?
Mary is the picture of the bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ is Zion (Rev. 21:9-10). And in a physical sense – is the church of those who believe on the Word of God. Mary said to the angel – "let it be so, according to your word." When we believe in God’s Word incarnate, Jesus Christ, we are saying to Him – "Let it be so, according to your word!"
We then receive the earnest of the spirit – it is our moment of Pentecost. The seed of God is within us and through sanctification we begin to nourish the child within (the new creature). Until one day, we bring forth the man-child. Of course, this is all a metaphor. But it is the metaphor that God chose to best illustrate his relationship to us and to the new us. This gets a bit confusing, because the bride is really the belief system that grafts us into Israel, grafts us into the kingdom of God. It is not any one of us, but all of us together – it is Zion (Rev. 21:9-10). At the same time, Zion is birthing the Sons of God - Emmanuel.
There is much work for Emmanuel to do and an inheritance to receive:
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
What Jesus has received from his father, he hands down to us.
* * *
A look at the original Immanuel prophecy
Let’s go back to the original prophecy that Matthew was claiming to be fulfilled and take a closer look.
Isaiah 7:12-14, 12:
But Ahaz said, 'I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord.' 13 Then he said, 'Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well? 14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.'
Immanuel means "God with us". The prophecy will be finally fulfilled in Revelation 21:3:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.'
Notice that this is not true yet. It is a future fulfillment. Now, there was an immediate fulfillment for Ahaz, it was fulfilled in the birth of his son Hezekiah, who went on to defeat the Assyrian assault on Jerusalem. It will be fulfilled in full when Immanuel is born during the fulfillment of Revelation 12, which leads to God dwelling among (with) us.
But let’s look closer at the original prophecy in Isaiah 7:11:
Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.
Do you see it? This is a sign, and God even says, shall it be in the height above? Then John comes along 800 years or so later and says, "I saw a great and wondrous sign in the heavens, a woman..." Also, if you read the seventh chapter of Isaiah, you will see that Isaiah is told to bring his son, with him to the meeting. His son’s name, Shearjashub means "a remnant shall return".
There is much more to say about Emmanuel but that will have to wait for part 2. In the meantime, please enjoy this music and listen to the words with a new outlook on their prophetic meaning.
1. The original prophecy of Immanuel called for a sign in the depth or the height above (Is. 7:11-14; compare to Mic. 5:3, Rev. 12:1-2). Not on the earth. The sign is of a virgin woman in labor (Virgo) giving birth to a son.
2. The prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 emphatically stated that the child would be named Immanuel, but Joseph was commanded by an angel to name his Son Jesus and not Immanuel.
3. Unless you double-count Jechonias (which some people do), there were only 13 generations from the exile to Jesus, not 14, thus the completion of the prophecy occurs when Christ's mystical Body (the Church) is birthed and joined to the head. The Church is the 14th generation and is properly Immanuel.
4. Jesus was then the template or foreshadowing of both Isaiah 7:14 and Revelation 12:5, but the final, literal, word-for-word fulfillments of both prophecies occurs when the Church is birthed and raptured.
I'll add an additional point: the name Immanuel contains the informal name for God or god, which is "El" as in "Elohim", whereas it is widely understood that the name Jesus contains part of the proper Divine Name of Yahweh. Thus there may be an intentional and pointed distinction here between the names showing the reader that Christ is truly Yahweh, but Immanuel is little 'e' elohim.