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God’s Promise to Isaiah

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 24, 2021 12:01 am

God’s Promise to Isaiah

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 24, 2021 12:01 am

Did the prophet Isaiah really predict the virgin birth of Jesus? Today, R.C. Sproul responds to questions raised by skeptics, showing that the birth of Christ is a miraculous fulfillment of God's ancient promise.

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In the context of Matthew's account of the birth of Christ. He sees this birth in Bethlehem as a fulfillment of a promise that was given prophetically by the prophet Isaiah about a future virgin who would conceive and bring forth a child and yet the fulfillment of that detailed prophecy is the subject of skepticism. A baby born of a virgin cannot be today of Renewing Your Mind.

We continue Dr. RC Sproul series promises dinner lesson today. He tackles those skeptical questions. The show is that God not only predicted a baby born to a virgin, he fulfilled his doctors in this Advent season we have been considering the promises of the Old Testament that are fulfilled with the coming of Christ.

We talked about the earliest promise of the gospel that is found in the third chapter of Genesis.

Verse 15 that we call the proto-a van Gogh. The first gospel and then we looked at the promises that God made to Abraham and to Isaac and Jacob.

The patriarchal blessings that were transferred from generation to generation mall today were going to look at a promise of the Old Testament that in its content is more specific than these general broad promises of a coming Redeemer. We think back to the ancient world. For example, to the Oracle of Delphi and that Oracle was famous for giving his predictions of the future but if you look carefully at the oracles that were given their Delphi.

They were always shrouded in a certain ambiguity. It's as if the Oracle was making sure that he was edging his bets.

The story is of a king Laura general who was also a king who was about to engage in a great battle inquired of the Oracle of Delphi of the outcome of this battle and the Oracle said to the king okay this will be a day of great and mighty victory, and the king went back to his troops all enthusiastic about this prediction that he had received marched into battle and was roundly and soundly defeated his armies were routed and the Oracle of Delphi proved to be true because indeed it was a great day of victory for the other side and that sort of prophecy is a prophecy that can't lose. That's exactly the opposite of the kind of prophecy and promise that we get from God. In the pages of the Old Testament where there the prophecies have specific and often detailed outcomes and of course one of the most noteworthy promises of the Old Testament with respect to the Messiah, who is to be born at some future date specifies where he will be born.

For example, where the prophet Micah designates this tiny little village of Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah will be born, but another Old Testament prophecy that has received quite a bit of attention, and no small amount of controversy is the one that is cited in the Gospel of Matthew in his account of the birth of Jesus. We read in verse 18 of chapter 1 of Matthew's gospel, Matthew's account of the advent of Christ. He says this. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows after his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit and then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly but while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to marry your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit and she will bring forth a son, and you will call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Immediately after this record. Matthew adds sort of a postscript to the announcement, calling our attention back to the promises of the Old Testament in verse 22 he writes these words so all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, quote behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuelle which is translated, God with us. So we see that in the context of Matthew's account of the birth of Christ that he sees this birth in Bethlehem as a fulfillment of a promise that was given prophetically by the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament about a future virgin who would conceive and bring forth a child that I doubt if there's any of the events of the New Testament that has provoked more discussion and more controversy in the 20th century than this whole question of the virgin birth of Jesus and I find it somewhat remarkable that I meet people frequently who say to me that they believe in the historical resurrection of Christ. They believe that Jesus performed miracles such as the calming of the sea and the changing of water into wine, and so on. They believe that his death was an atonement of cosmic proportions, but they just can't believe in the historical reality of the virgin birth. Somehow, the virgin birth is extrapolated from the whole body of New Testament teaching about Jesus and put in a separate category being assigned to the genre of mythology or fable or legend and I just wonder about the consistency of this, of course, 19 century liberal theology saw wholesale rejection of anything in the New Testament that smacked of the miraculous, or of the supernatural that I can understand that is of a person said I don't believe in miracles on a believing virgin birth. Audibly the resurrections on a believe in changing water into wine raising people from the dead, that sort of thing and say in that context. Therefore, I reject the virgin birth, but what is so strange to me is that group of people who isolate this particular teaching of the New Testament for special treatment of skepticism now.

Also, we notice that in the controversy that came about in the 19 century with the advent of 19th century religious historical school which is often called the school of liberalism that assign so much of the material of the New Testament to the realm of mythology that, as is normally the case when a theologian or school of theology departs from Orthodox belief from classical or traditional theology inevitably the first appeal is an appeal by which the person who is departing from orthodoxy were the heretic if you will.

If you want me to speak plainly without warrant. The first attempt is to say that the Scriptures don't really teach the traditional view or, conversely, the Scripture really teaches there novel view. This is a traditional approach of all heretics and once then you examine their argument and show that their exegesis or their interpretation of the Scriptures is an act of despair. Then they'll usually say well I don't believe what the Scriptures are writing but it is fascinating to me that so much of this controversy about the virgin birth is defended by those who reject the virgin birth on the grounds that the Bible really doesn't teach a virgin birth of Jesus. Now keep your thinking Here for a Second. At This Point It's Not a Dispute of Whether the Virgin Birth Actually Happened. The Dispute Is, Does the Bible Claim That It Happened. You See the Difference.

It's One Thing to Say. I Don't Believe It Because I Believe the Bible Teaches It. It's Another Thing to Say, Will I Grant That the Bible Teaches It, but That's Just One Example of the Fallibility and the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. Now, This Approach to the Question of the Birth of Jesus Prompted Technical Theological Controversy That I Think Most of Us Have Never Heard of Is Called the Alma but Tula Controversy Is Not the Controversy That Everybody in the Pew Speaks about and Discusses with Daily Regularity. In Fact, Site If I Would Take a Poll in the Church Today. I Would Be Willing to Guess That 99 Point Something of the People Never Heard of This Controversy. This One of Those Pedantic Controversies. The Theologians Engage in like Arguing over Whether Adam Had a Navel When He Was Created.

But the Alma but Tula Controversy Focuses on the Old Testament Text That Matthew Quotes in His Gospel When He Says That the Birth of Jesus Fulfills the Scripture That a Virgin Will Conceive and Bring Forth a Child, the Technical Arguments I Say Calls Our Attention Back to the Prophecy of Isaiah That We Find in the Seventh Chapter of the Book That Bears His Name.

Let's Take A Few Moments and Look at Isaiah Chapter 7 Beginning at Verse 13. Then He Said Here Now of the House of David. Is It a Small Thing for You to Weary Men, but Will You Weary My God Also. Therefore the Lord Himself Will Give You a Sign. The Lord Himself Will Give You a Sign.

Behold, the Virgin Shall Conceive and Bear a Son, and Shall Call His Name Emmanuelle Kurtz and Honey. He Shall Eat That He May Know to Refuse the Evil and Choose the Good.

For before the Child Shall Know to Refuse the Evil and Choose the Good, the Land That You Dread Will Be Forsaken by Both Working the Lord Will Bring the King of Assyria upon You, and so Now the Focal Point of the Controversy Is on the Word That Is Translated in Our English Bible by the English Word Virgin in the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament the Word That Appears There Is the Word All and Those Who Were Technicians of the Hebrew Language Have Indicated and Noticed That the Technical Term for a Virgin in Hebrew Is the Word, but Tula and They Look at This Texan.

I Say We, Isaiah Doesn't Say That Abut Lola Will Conceive and Bring Forth a Child, It Says Simply That in All My Will Conceive and Bring Forth a Child, and That's Why Some Translators Prefer to Translate Isaiah Chapter 7, Not by Using the English Word Virgin, but Rather They Render the Text. This Way, Behold, a Young Woman Will Conceive and Bear a Child. Now I Have To Say That Technically Speaking, There Is a Hebrew Word That Has More Specific References to the Concept of Virginity, Then the Word Alma Does, Though I Have Been Told Recently by Contemporary Hebrew Scholars That the Word Alma May Even Be More Specific Than the Word but Tula but I'm Granting for the Sake of Argument, the Overview That, but Tula Is the More Specific Term and Alma the More General and so the Skeptic Comes This Texan to See Isaiah Didn't Even Prophesy That There Would Be a Virgin Birth. They Had No View Towards a Biological Miracle of This Magnitude, and Obviously the New Testament When It Looks Back to This Fulfillment Is Also Not Trying to Communicate the Idea of Virgin Birth.

This Is One of Those Dispute of Interpreting the Bible That I Have To Be Candid with You That I Have To Say Buckles My Mind of People Having Such a Blind Vision of the Perfectly Obvious, Because in the First Instance, If We Read the New Testament Account of the Birth of Jesus. Let Me Suggest to You That the Word Virgin in Hebrew or in Greek Alma Orbital Is Utterly Unnecessary to the Concept That Is Being Communicated. If We Look at the Context of the New Testament Account of the Birth of Jesus, the Whole Discussion of the Miraculous Circumstances of It. Mary's Utter Bewilderment at the Announcement That the Angel Makes to Her and Her Protest by Saying How Can This Be, since I've Never Been with a Man and Then the Angel's Response in a with God All Things Are Possible Errors Will Happen. The Holy Ghost Will Come upon You and Overshadow You. So That the Thing That Is Conceived within You Will Be Called the Child of the Most High God.

Do You See That in That Narrative, You Don't Even Have To Refer to Virginity Specifically to Hear Loudly and Clearly the Concept Coming through the Second Point I Would Say Is That Even in the Old Testament When Isaiah Speaks about This Alma That Is Coming. He Prefaces That Prediction by Saying That the Lord God Is Going to Give the People a Sign a Supernatural Sign Which Is the Biblical Word Primarily for What We Call a Miracle and There Is Nothing so I Vacant Significant and Nothing Miraculous or Supernatural about a Young Woman's Having a Baby so That in the Context of Isaiah As Well As in the Context of Matthew. In Both Cases the Event That Is Being Described Nevermind Which Word Is Being Used To Describe the Girl in View the Concept in Both Texts Clearly Refers to a Supernatural Act Wrought by God, That Is Extraordinary That Is What We Would Say, Contra the Purim against the Laws of Nature. Finally, Let Me Suggest This, That Even Though It's True That the Word, or Though It May Be True That the Word Alma Is Less Specific Than the Word but Tula to Translate It Merely by the Words in English Young Woman Fails to Do Justice to It.

At the Very Least, the Text Would Be Saying, Behold, I Will Give You a Sign, a Maiden Will Conceive and Bring Forth a Child and That Which Is Born Shall Be Called the Son of God and His Name Shall Be Emmanuelle Know If I Use That Word Maiden Instead of Young Woman There Would Be a Subtle Difference Wouldn't We Hardly Ever Use the Word Maiden in Our Vocabulary More. It's Somewhat Archaic. It's Elizabethan in Its Orientation and so but the Word Maiden Does Not Necessitate the Concept of Virginity, but Strongly Suggests Other Words, the Term Young Woman Is Far Too Broad to Do Justice to Even the Hebrew Concept Alma the Idea of Alma Is a Girl Whose Young, Who Is Chase Who Is Not Experienced with Men Not Simply a Reference to Her Sex or to Her Age and If We Look at It Again in the Context in Which It Is Thing We See That Centuries before the Birth of Jesus.

God Promised That a Young Maiden Would Conceive a Child Who Would Be a Man and That the Birth of This Baby Would Be a Super Natural Sign from Heaven. It Would Be a Flesh and Blood Fulfillment Not of an Earthly Prognostication or Human Prediction That the Fulfillment of a Supernatural and Divine Promise.

Let Me Ask You If You've Ever Struggled with the Story of the Virgin Birth. I Remember When I Was Teaching Philosophy in a College in Pennsylvania That the Professor in the English Department Was Teaching Ovid's Metamorphosis. This Ancient Greek Poetic Work and He Was Trying to Show His Students in the Class. All of the Points of Parallel between Ancient Greek Mythology and Christian and Jewish Religion. The Greeks Had Their Myths of Dying and Rising Gods of Virgin Born Deities like Athena Who Sprung De Novo from the Head of Zeus and the Professor Was Sort of Teasing His Students and You See This Is No Different from the New Testament Teaching of the Virgin Birth of Jesus, and We Were Having Coffee One Day in the Coffee Shop Afterwards and I Said It's Neat How You Show the Similarities between Greek Mythology and the New Testament, but Are You Equipped Also Show the Difference. He Said What Differences I Said, Well, for Starters, How about the Difference between the Hebrew for You of History and the Greek NSF Discussion Went on, He Began to See That the Difference Is That the Greeks Never Thought for a Second That Their Story of the Birth of Athena Really Happened in Space and Time, Whereas in Judaism There Faith Dependent upon, and I Say to You in This Advent Season That When We Come to Celebrate the Birth of Christ, We Are Not There to Be Engaged in an Exercise of Mythology.

The Celebration of Real-Time Real Space on This Christmas Eve. That's a Great Reminder Is That It Were. Glad You Joined Us for Renewing Your Mind. Lively Web Series Were Featuring This Week Is Called Promises in It. Dr. RC Sproul Shows Us God's Promise Keeping Character through Several Old Testament Saints Including Eve, Isaiah and Jeremiah Would like to Provide You with a Digital Download This Five-Part Series for Your Donation of Any Amount Today to Look at Your Ministries.

We Will Add All Five Messages to Your Learning Library Online, Allowing You to Stream Them Right Away Will Also Send You the Two DVD Set of RC Series. The Promise Keeper God of the Covenant's Request. Both Resources When You Contact Us Today. Our Offices Are Closed for the Christmas Holiday, but You Can Make a Request to Give Your Gift Online at Renewing Your Mind.Work Chris Larson, Our President and CEO Is Stop by the Studio. Chris I Know That You and I Are Are so Encouraged to Hear from from Young People Who Are Connecting to the Resources That We Provide. With Your Ministries. We Have a Wide-Ranging Outreach. Of Course, through This Broadcast Renewing Your Mind Goes out on Podcasts but Also through Our YouTube Outreach and on Our Website As Well and so Reaching the Next Generation. It's a Mandate for All of Us As Were Running This Race with the past That Baton to the Next Generation so That They Can Stand Firm in Their Faith and Know That There Is a Historic Grounding for What They Believe in Knowing Why They Believe It and How They're Going to Live It and Then How They're Going to Share with Others Our Listeners Are Really Going to Be Encouraged to Hear This Testimony from This Young Lady in My Eye One Day I Got My Eye Sees Is Not All TTC Happens to Be Free Still Have an Afterschool He Is Doctrines of Grace and John Lawson. And Then I Found Myself Leaning Destination, and I Believe That You Understand God's Grace That Much like I Cannot Lose My Salvation. I Cannot Speak Is Amazing to Me Occasionally and There.

So When I Find You Easy Actually Understand the Gospel Message Is Buried in Government Act and Is Really Joyful and Really Think I Began Again like I Really Understood the Need Now Is I Hear Her Say That I'm Reminded of What RC Always Said That Theology Always Leads to Doxology It Does Because I Know That This Person Is Now Worshiping in a Faithful Gospel Preaching Church There in Manhattan and She Brought in Others in Her Community to That Church As Well and so This Is the Beauty of God's Word at Work in the Lives of His People Can't Help but Bear Fruit in Your Hearing That in This Testimony and Were Grateful for the Thank You Chris and That There's No More Fitting Time to Hear This Testimony Than on This Christmas Eve As We Celebrate the Coming of the Savior, the Messiah, On Behalf Of All of the Series Would Your Ministries Very Christmas

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