So this passage has a prophecy about a child born to a virgin and called Immanuel. It’s kinda famous.
Hears the thing, though. With our account of Christ’s coming and ministry, it’s easy to read Isaiah and go “oh! I know who that’s about!” Did they, though? The recipients of the prophecy? Did Isaiah even know?
Because the prophecy was given in response to Ahaz refusing to place his faith in God. It was a prophecy regarding their immediate political situation. This boy would be born, and before he was more than a baby, the current threat would be gone.
To be honest, I found the whole passage to be kind of confusing, especially because I’ve always heard this particular prophecy quoted in connection to Christ. In context, it’s a little difficult to see it that way.
So here’s how I’m beginning to understand prophecy, and keep in mind I might be way off:
Remember God is outside of time as we understand it. What that means, I’m not entirely sure, but he’d demonstrated that it’s true. So now consider that the prophecy exists in two spaces at once: in relationship to the whole of human history, and in the context in which it is given.
Sometimes, a dream or a prophecy is only immediate, like the Pharaoh’s dream about the coming famine, but sometimes, like Isaiah, and I think Ezekiel and Daniel, it’s like God says, “All right, this is one of those moments that Israel’s behavior fits the pattern, works as a model for the history of man, when one generation exemplifies the history and future of the nation.” That moment becomes a metaphor for humanity, so the prophecy that rings true for that moment is also applicable on a much broader scope.
(That doesn’t mean I believe that there was a virgin birth in Isaiah’s day, by the way. I think the immediate understanding would be that a girl who wasn’t married yet at the time of his speaking would conceive a son in the usual way.)
I don’t know. Just felt like this was the knot to pick at tonight. Still not sure I understand it. Still not sure we should expect to understand it, at least not fully.