The Virgin Birth
December! For Christendom and the business world it spells Christmas day. For the child of God it tells the story of the Virgin Birth of the Saviour. (That He was born on a September night is not to be argued here.) He was born! There is no month more fitting for a meditation on this theme than the present one.
It has been well said, “The virgin birth is the first layer in the substratum of true theology.” No matter how fine a superstructure one may build in his theological concepts, it must eventually crumble, unless it be well and truly laid on the foundation stone — Christ, born of the virgin Mary.
There will be no need in this short article to battle over the use of the word in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son.” The word used is “almah.” Let those who will, struggle with the meaning of this word and claim that it means “young woman.” Millions of young women have brought forth sons. There is nothing arresting in that prediction if “almah” means “young woman.” But the Holy Spirit focuses our eyes to “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son.” Internal evidence of Scripture points only to one conclusion: Immanuel of the New Testament was conceived in the Virgin’s womb.
We shall consider some of these remarkable references now:
“…it (the woman’s seed) shall bruise thy head. (God says to the serpent). Nowhere in the field of literature is this expression to be found. Nowhere else in Holy Writ is the expression used, except where reference is made to the virgin birth.
It is interesting to compare Genesis 49:8 and Psalm 69:8. When dying, Jacob refers to his fourth son and predicts that Judah would prevail over the other tribes. He says, “Thy father’s children shall bow down to thee.” (See 1 Chron. 5:2). In the Psalm, David prophetically cries of the Messiah, “I …am become an alien unto my mother’s children.” When Mary, His mother, would gently remonstrate with Him as a boy of twelve, by saying, “Thy father and I sought Thee sorrowing,” He felt it incumbent upon Him to reply, “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” Even Mary must keep in remembrance that He was her seed and not the seed of the man who was her husband. He alone, of the children in the family circle under the carpenter’s roof in Nazareth, nestled in the mother’s womb while she was still a virgin.
(a) “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus.” Thirty-nine times from verses two to sixteen we read someone “begat.” The order from Abraham to Joseph is not changed. Immediately after Joseph’s name is mentioned, the Spirit of God orders a change. Instead of “and Joseph begat Jesus” it is “… Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, which is called Christ.”
(b) “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise.” One might well ask, “Why should the Spirit of God write ‘on this wise’?” All are born in only one way. Ah, there was one exception — the Messiah! He will require special mention.
(c) Continuing, the verse says, “When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” The following verse explains the dilemma poor Joseph found himself in, clearly showing at this point that he was in complete ignorance of what had happened to his beloved Mary.
(d) “And (he) knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called His name Jesus.” It is unnecessary here to comment; the import of the phrase used is patent to all.
“But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” God can make man as He chooses and in each case it is miraculous. He made Adam from the dust; He made Eve from a rib taken from man; He made Cain from the union of man and woman; He made Jesus from a virgin. Ever since Cain was born every member of the human family has been born in the same way — “made of a woman,” but not apart from the agency of a man. The one exception was the Lord Jesus. Our verse tells us that “God sent forth His Son,” meaning that He was with God before He came. In His case we must learn how He “came.”
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers (sharers) of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part (partook) of the same.”
This verse is unintelligible to us apart from the Virgin Birth. The term “flesh and blood” is used here to denote mankind, and is a condition or state which all share apart from any human volition. But in His case He “partook;” suggesting an act of His own will. Elsewhere in Scripture this is perfectly explained, particularly in the Gospel of John, which portrays Him as the eternal Son with the eternal Father. John 1:2 says, “The same (Word) was in the beginning with God.” Later (ver. 14) he adds: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us …full of grace and truth.” He Himself said, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world” (John 16:27). No wonder the poor blind Pharisees of His day could not comprehend His statement, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
“And…the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joesph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and His mother,” etc. The angel of the Lord is speaking with exactitude as becomes the occasion. Lest any should think that the language used was by accident or coincidence, and not by design, check verses 14, 20, 21. No fewer than four times in the narrative, involving Joseph, the same language is used. How differently he spoke to Abraham concerning Isaac. On the mount he cries, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad …thy son.” Any true earthly father must needs be hurt should such language be used, but Joseph raises no question; he fully understands. Ah, yes Mary will have other sons and share her ownership of them with Joseph, but, congenitally, he has no lot or part with the firstborn.
Many more Scriptures might be adduced, but these are sufficient for any honest mind to arrive at the conclusion expressed so succinctly by Paul, “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).
The purposes and ramifications of the Virgin Birth cannot be examined in detail in the present article, so let us examine it in the light of Christ’s own claim when He was challenged by Pilate. Pilate had asked Him, “Art Thou a king then?” He replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). One day He will ascend the throne of David as its rightful heir, but, and this cannot be overemphasized, He never could lay any claim to the throne if he had not been virgin born.
According to the prophet Jeremiah (chap. 22) the seed royal, (which at that time was king Jeconiah’s) was cursed of the Lord and the succession at that point broken forever. From Matthew we learn that Joesph was descended from Jeconiah; he was Jeconiah’s seed. But neither he, nor any other lineal descendent of Jeconiah since the curse had been pronounced, could lay claim to the throne of David, even if the monarchy itself had not been overthrown.
What would have happened if Israel had been able to free herself from the oppression of her conquerors and overlords and established the monarchy again? Where would they have found their king? If not through Jeconiah’s line, who next could have laid claim to the throne? Jeconiah came of David’s son, Solomon. Solomon had a full brother called Nathan and from that line the new monarchy must be established. It was a descendent of Nathan that Joseph married — for Mary was a true princess of the House of David. As her “seed”, Jesus’ claim is absolutely watertight and valid. Since He was not Joseph’s “seed”, but legally his “son,” the curse, in His case, was invalidated. The throne is His by double right. Mary’s inheritance of the throne was not lost, confiscated, or forfeited at her marriage. Marrying into the royal tribe of Judah, the claim is still within the tribe. (See the interesting story of Zelepehad and his daughters. Number 36).
It could well be that we will never again celebrate the birth of the King as we do now, — for He is coming again. Ere another December come around, the initial step to taking His kingdom (the claiming of His bride in the air for preparation for the sharing of His glorious reign) may be made. Leaving aside all the traditions of men in their observance of the event, well may all saints rejoice at the Saviour’s birth and anticipate His return.
“And when He comes — our glorious King
All His ransomed home to bring;
Then anew this song we’ll sing,
Hallelujah what a Saviour!”