Friday, October 16, 2015
Two Virgin Births-One in the New Testament, One in the Old (1911)
Two Virgin Births-One in the New Testament, One in the Old by Rev. WILLIAM F. McCAULEY. LITT.D. 1911
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Rationalistic critic who deny that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin do not realize that the Scriptures confront them with two virgin births, one in the New, and one in the Old Testament. I am aware that even many orthodox thinkers will regard this statement with surprise, but a careful examination of the points involved will demonstrate that the conclusion can not be successfully evaded.
The passage in Matt. i. 22, 23, in which the prophecy of the birth of Jesus by a virgin is mentioned, must be taken as referring not to a mere prophecy, but to a prophetic type that is, to an event that had already occurred, but which was also a prophecy of the miraculous birth of the Savior. In Matt. ii. 15, another past event of prophetic significance, concerning the calling of Christ out of Egypt, is called a prophecy. On turning to Hos. xi. I, we find that the calling of Israel out of Egypt was the basis of Matthew's reference, rightly denominated a prophecy because it was a prophetic type. So also the instance of Rachel weeping for her children, Matt. ii. 17, I8, goes back to the period of the Captivity, Jer. xxxi. 15, 16, Rachel being there represented as
weeping for her descendants because they had been taken into exile, from which, however, they were to return. Matthew therefore cites three historic occurrences, all of which were prophetic types, and speaks of them succinctly as prophecies. One of these is the incident of the virgin birth, described in Isa. vii. 10-14
That the virgin birth spoken of in the book of Isaiah actually occurred, is evident from the fact that the Lord promised it as a sign to convince or rebuke the idolatrous Ahaz; as a reading of the context will show. A prophecy of an event to be fulfilled hundreds of years after the days of Ahaz could have little or no effect in influencing the conduct of that king or in rebuking his lack of faith, as was the immediate design of this prophecy.
After Ahaz's refusal to ask for a sign at God's invitation, the Lord said he would give him a sign-that a virgin should bear a son, and call his name Immanuel; and that before the child was old enough to refuse the evil and choose the good, the lands whose kings Abaz abhorred (confederated Syria and Israel) should be forsaken. These extraordinary events were to be to Ahaz a proof of the
power of the God he had disobeyed. The word for virgin in the Hebrew is almah, and is translated in the Septuagint by parthenos, the same Greek word that we find in Matthew. Tregelles, in his note in Gesenius' Hebrew lexicon on the meaning of almah, takes the position that no other signification than that of virgin can be assigned to it. Besides, if it did not mean virgin, how could Matthew quote it as a prophecy concerning Mary, about whose virginity he particularizes?
In furtherance of the fulfilment of the prophecy, God directed Isaiah to inscribe a tablet, and appointed witnesses of the record to be made therein, concerning the child to be born, called here Maher-shalal-hash-baz; this being no doubt -his ordinary name as Immanuel was to be his prophetic and symbolic one. These two names signify two aspects of God's care over his people, -Immanuel meaning, "God with us", and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, "The spoil speedeth, the prey hasteth", or words of similar import, denoting the display of God's power in judgment. The prophecy concerning the
spoliation of Damascus and Samaria, the capital cities of Syria and Israel, the nations whose kings had been at war with Ahaz, spoken in connection with Maher-shalal-hash-baz, is exactly parallel with that uttered in the case of the child Immanuel, and furnishes additional proof that these two children were one and the same.
Isaiah tells us that, after receiving the command to inscribe the tablet, and following the designation of the witnesses, he went unto the prophetess, and that she conceived and bore a son. The word used of Isaiah's coming to the prophetess is akrab, and means merely to approach, draw near, or come into the presence of another; and is never used of begetting progeny, other words being uniformly employed for the latter purpose. The miracle thus becomes a complete type of the miraculous birth of Christ, the prophetess representing Mary, the prophet Isaiah the overshadowing power of the Most High, while the child represents our Immanuel, "God with us", who had also another and more common name, Jesus, setting forth God's work of salvation.
The child born of a virgin in the days of Ahaz was not an incarnation of Deity as Jesus was, but wholly a human being, whose birth demonstrated the possibility of such generation within the realm of the purely physical, and showed that there was therefore nothing impossible in the idea of the birth of Christ of a virgin through the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High overshadowing the human mother. Thus by the testimony of two witnesses to virgin birth every word is established.
It is not proposed here to attempt to explain the physical facts connected with the virgin birth of the first Immanuel, but it may be well to remark that the science of biology now suggests more than one way for the propagation of species, one of which is that of an induced condition. Partheno-genesis and electrolysis are terms to be met with to-day in biological study. These scientific theories should at least stop objectors from treating with ridicule the assertion that a virgin birth occurred in Old Testament times. The mental and physical are in such close relation that no one can definitely limit the power of suggestion or of transmission of vitalizing force, in unusual circumstances, without regard to actual corporeal contact; and what may we not affirm of biological possibilities through the power of the great Source of Life himself? On the other hand, destructive critics are very likely to overlook the latest developments in scientific research and to deny the very truths that science is beginning to champion.
It may be urged that the fact that a atonechild was born from the mere presence of the prophet proves too much inasmuch as it indicates that Jesus may have been born from the presence of Gabriel or Joseph; but this is precisely what the Scripture record contradicts (Matt. i. 18-23; Luke i. 26, 38). Gabriel announced to Mary the coming of the power of God upon her, and that she was to be the mother of the Son of God; and this announcement was necessary, as otherwise she could not understand nor explain the facts to others.
To reject the virgin birth of Christ the Son of God is to deny Deity to him, since only by such a birth could he be at the same time the Son of God and Son of man; it is to sweep away the plan of atonement based on his Deity, since only as the Son of God could he offer a sacrifice sufficient for the sins of all mankind; it is to destroy confidence in him as even the legitimate offspring of honest wedlock, for if he was not the Son of God, his mother was unchaste, and his father, whoever he might have been, a man of impure character; and finally, to deny the virgin birth is to unhallow the authority of Sacred Scripture.
Moreover, the theory that Jesus was a mere man by birth, but was made the Son of God by some super-addition of Deity, besides being subject to objections already stated, is harder to comprehend than his birth by a virgin.
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