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Matthew's Gospel says that Jesus's mother Mary was a virgin. According to Matthew this fulfilled a prophecy found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah: 'Look! The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him 'Immanuel' – 'God is with us.'' (Isaiah 7:14)
In its context this prophecy does not seem to be about the Messiah at all. It comes from the eighth century BC, and it is about the Jewish nation being devastated by the Assyrian Empire.
So was Matthew misusing it? Or was there something more in the prophecy than just what would happen in the eighth century B.C?
In the Jewish world in Matthew's time, a teacher could quote one phrase from the Old Testament as a way of alluding to the wider passage where it was found. This is what Matthew is doing here:
The verse that he quotes from Isaiah chapter 7 is part of a longer chunk that runs from chapter 7 to chapter 9.
This longer chunk goes beyond the destruction by Assyria, to speak about a new age that God will bring about. This new age will be ruled by the son who is to be born, who is called Immanuel – God with us.
Matthew had this longer passage from Isaiah in view when he quoted from chapter 7. When we include this wider context, it is clear that Matthew was not misusing it when he applied it to Jesus.
Unwrapped video #12