Matthew 1:22-23 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
Modern men, chained so tightly to this earth, to this material realm, with their implicit faith in scientism and naturalistic materialism, look upon these words with arrogant disdain. They do not see here fulfillment of ancient prophecy. No, they see here a later Christian community (not Matthew, but writing in his name) ransacking the ancient Jewish Scriptures, twisting anything to their service. Thus, the prophecy given to Ahaz seven hundred years before Christ was only relevant in that day, surely not to any future fulfillment. Modern “Christian” scholars join their ancient Jewish counterparts in rejecting the supernatural nature of Jewish prophecy and its fulfillment in Christ (despite the fact that all of those living in the days of Christ viewed the Scriptures as containing true future-looking prophecy).
Naturalistic materialists (and we are all trained to think in that realm by secular education and by the culture around us) will always look askance at any claim to supernaturalism in our world, even to the point of questioning the basic honesty and integrity of the New Testament writers. But Matthew, following in the line of disciples seen in the Emmaus road incident, is convinced God has in fact given prophetic announcement of what was being fulfilled in the life and ministry of Christ. In relating the experience of Joseph, combined with the virgin birth, and the extraordinary lengths to which God went to bring about this special birth, Matthew sees in the light of fulfillment the words given to Ahaz long ago, words which, in Isaiah’s prophecy, made up one third of a three-part trilogy of prophecy (Isaiah 7:14, 9:5-6, 11:1-11). Immanuel takes on its final and fullest meaning, for surely, the term could not have been exhausted in the fulfillment in the days of Ahaz (let alone such phrases as “Mighty God” or “Prince of Peace”). Instead, “God with us” is not merely the promise that God is on the side of oppressed Israel, but that God has entered into His own creation; He is with us as only the Incarnate One can be. In Jesus, God is with us, fully, finally, truthfully, historically, salvifically, powerfully, intimately, personally.