Bible Question:

Is Isaiah 7:14-16 talking about Jesus? I don't believe it is, but I can see why some think it is because it talks about a virgin birth and the boy will be called Immanuel. On the other hand these passages talk about when he is old enough to refuse evil and choose good. Didn't Jesus know to choose good from the day he was born? Could you please explain these passages a little more.

Bible Answer:

Isaiah 7:14 is one of the great prophetic passages of the Old Testament. The meaning of this passage depends on one key Hebrew word and verse 16. Yes, the passage is about Jesus and we explain why that is true during our response to your question. Here is the passage you have asked about.

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. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (NASB) Isaiah 7:14-16

Meaning of “Virgin” in Isaiah 7:14

The Hebrew word which is translated as “virgin” is almah. This word is never used for a married woman in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic. The word is used in Genesis 24:43 to refer to a woman – “maiden” – who was clearly a virgin. This word also appears in Exodus 2:8; Psalm 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; and in Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8. In each case it only refers to an unmarried woman or a virgin. When the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint or LXX, was written, the Greek translators understood this word to mean “virgin.” Since they were closer to the time when Isaiah wrote this book, and since they had a better understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek languages of their time than we do today, the LXX translation should be trusted. When we come to the New Testament, the Apostle Matthew quotes this passage in Matthew 1:22-23.

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” (NASB) Matthew 1:22-23

The Greek word for “virgin” means “virgin.” If we put all of these facts together, we can come to only one conclusion: Isaiah was referring to a virgin. Matthew tells us that this prophecy refers to Jesus. Matthew also tells us that Jesus will be called Immanuel because He was God with us.

“Behold” Refers To An Unusal Event

Some have said that the prophecy is about a young woman and not a virgin. If that is true, then this is a bad sign. A sign must be something that is significant and unusual. The word “behold” implies that something unusual would occur. Something out of the ordinary would occur. Young women having babies is not at all unusual, but a virgin having a baby is a miracle. If a virgin gives birth to a baby that is a “sign.” The prophecy is clear, a virgin will give birth to an unusual baby who will be “God with us.”

Isaiah 15-16 Refers To Christ’s Youth

The next two verses tells us that as a little baby Jesus would not know wrong and right until He grew to a certain age. It is important to remember that Jesus came not just to die for our sins, but also to see what it was like to be a human. Jesus was not only completely God He was also completely man. He had to grow and experience hardship, pain, and reject the temptation to sin (Luke 2:52; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15).

The prophecy goes on to tell us that the two kings who caused Ahaz to have great fear would be destroyed. The two kings were King Rezin of Aram and Pekah who was King of Israel (Isaiah 7:1-9). The prophecy that is given in verse 16 occurred when Israel was destroyed. This happened about 65 years after the prophecy was given, but it occurred long before Jesus was born. Ahaz was afraid that Jerusalem would be destroyed, and that did not happen until after Jesus’ death, return to life, and ascension back to heaven. It occurred in 70 A.D.

Conclusion:

This is truly a significant miracle. “Behold” a sign! A virgin giving birth to a baby is a miracle. A young woman giving birth is not a miracle unless she is also a virgin. Why did this happen? It happened in order that our sins could be forgiven. God is pursuing you and loves each one of us. God came to give us life. Eternal life is with Him. God wants our friendship. He only asks us to believe in Jesus. He asks us to seek Him.

Reference Links:

Searching For God
Jesus Our Savior
The Christmas Story
God's Great Passion
The Gift – The Virgin Birth of Christ
Is the sign to Ahaz In Isaiah 7 about Jesus or someone else?