Seeing the Obvious - Overlooking the Significant

by Dennis Michelson
(Painesville, Ohio)

Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23


"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

"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."

Introduction: We often look at the obvious and overlook the significant. The headlines of all the newspapers in 1809 read "Napoleon Sweeping Across Austria!" However, at the same time in history, some notable (but overlooked) babies were born -

William Gladstone was born in Liverpool

Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire

Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston

A physician and his wife named Darwin welcomed their son into the world and named him Charles

In Hardin County Kentucky an illiterate laborer name Lincoln listened to the cries of his newborn son - Abraham.

It would be hard to find anyone today who can still name one of Napoleon's Austrian campaigns but most thinking people could cite the impact on society made by one of these "obscure" infants born during Napoleon's time.

When God pitched his fleshly tent on the straw in Bethlehem, the world was focused on Augustus in Rome. They saw the obvious but overlooked the significant. Many continue to make the same mistake in 2010.

The virgin birth of Christ ought to be the headline in every newspaper but it has been relegated to the sterile theological debates in the seminary. We can never be with God until we acknowledge that God has been with us - Emmanuel!

1. The Setting of the Prophecy (Isaiah 7)

The prophecy had immediate significance for Ahaz but has even greater significance for us. The prophecy was directed proximately to Ahaz but distantly to the house of David (7:13).

2. The Significance to Ahaz

The prophesied birth of Hezekiah was the near fulfillment of Isaiah's pronouncement. However, the prophecy of the Messiah was absolutely unique - Hezekiah's mother was a young woman. The Messiah's mother would be a "pregnant virgin." Now that is significant!

3. The Seriousness for Us (Matthew 1)

(1) To deny the virgin birth is to impugn the authority of the Scriptures (compare Isaiah 7:14 with Matthew 1:23)

(2) To exalt the virgin mother is to deny the uniqueness of Christ. In Luke 1:47 Mary not only rejoiced in the birth of a son but also in the birth of "God my Savior."

(3) To reject the virgin-born Christ is to assure your fate as eternally separated from God

Conclusion: In recent years, fundamentalists have been guilty of majoring on the minors rather than preaching the legitimate "fundamentals" of the faith. Some of the fundamentals include the inspiration and authority of the Scriputres; the vicarious blood atonement of Christ; the bodily resurrection of Christ; the second coming of Christ; and the virgin birth of Christ.

The essential message of Christmas is Emmanuel - God with us. The virgin birth assures us that Isaiah was absolutely right when he spoke prophetically of a "pregnant virgin." There has been only one pregnant virgin and there is only one son named Jesus who can and will save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

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