Behold, the Virgin Shall Conceive!

Behold, the virgin shall conceive! (Isaiah 7:14)
It is funny how I’ve been asked the same question, three times already, about out Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Nativity scene on stage. The question is “Why is Jesus a baby and Joseph and Mary box people, shouldn’t Jesus be a box person too?” My “smart mouth” answer is always the same, “Don’t you know anything? Jesus wasn’t from Mary and Joseph, He was from God. He is different from any human who ever lived. We humans all have split characters. We inherit from our parents features that come from two divergent and often contradictory lines. Jesus, however, was One: His heritage comes from a single line. Most then respond by laughing and saying “Wow! I guess you’re right– makes sense.”
However, this only makes sense if you believe in the virgin birth of Christ. It made me think how in many circles it is contested whether Isaiah really prophesied the virgin birth. The argument is that in his words (7:14), “The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive,” the Hebrew expression almah does not necessarily mean “virgin.” It could also mean “young maid.” Like other nouns in Hebrew, the word “virgin” has two forms. Elem, the male form, is always used for a very young boy who could not have known a woman yet, like in 1 Samuel 20:35 in reference to “a little lad” who accompanied Jonathan.
Since elem in the male form surely indicates a virginal boy, why then should the female form, almah, not also have the inference? Surely Matthew, the Spirit inspired gospel writer, knew better Hebrew than the modern professors of theology, and his translation of Isaiah’s prophecy was “a virgin shall be with child” (1:23).
You can rely on the Bible. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus. He is different than any other in history, born pure with out the sin nature of man. The One who, by His grace, used a virgin womb to conceive the pure Son of God, the Lord and Savior, will also, by His grace, see that you appear before Him pure and spotless for eternity. As you pack your shoeboxes, ponder the amazing power and wonders of God’s great grace to the world through Christ.
In His Service,
Eric Barnes

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