The famous virgin birth prophecy was written in the book of Isaiah. The prophet Isaiah is believed to have lived around 700 years before Christ. This is the verse. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.” Later on in the New Testament the gospel of Matthew quotes this verse as proof that Jesus was born of a virgin. There are four gospels in the New Testament and each one is a retelling of the life of Jesus. However, only two gospels tell us the story of Christ’s birth: Matthew and Luke. While both authors claim that Jesus was born of a virgin only Matthew mentions the prophecy in Isaiah. The author of Matthew writes: “… an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him he took her as his wife but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son and he named him Jesus.” So does this prophecy really apply to Jesus? Well, there’s a number of issues, let’s have a look. First up, Jesus was never named Emmanuel. If you’re gonna fulfill a prophecy, make sure you get the name right. Not once in the entire Bible does anyone refer to Jesus as Emmanuel and the name never appears again. The common apologetic for this is that the meaning of the name still applies to Jesus. That’s pretty flimsy. Lots of Hebrew names could be applied to Jesus since so many of them refer to God. King Saul’s grandfather was named Abiel. His name means “God is my father”. Hey, that’s a good one for Jesus. Too bad it was already taken. Incidentally Jesus’ name is derived from the common name Joshua and means “to rescue” or “to deliver”. So it’s not particularly unique. With so many Hebrew names that could apply to Jesus it is crucial that the right name is prophesied. Otherwise the prediction means nothing and carries no weight. Jesus was not named Emmanuel so this part of the prophecy was not fulfilled. Now, let’s have a look at the original chapter in Isaiah. Like we’ve seen with many other supposed prophecies once you read it in it’s original context suddenly it takes on a different meaning. King Ahaz is terrified. Two kings have united against him and are about to launch an attack. The prophet Isaiah tells Ahaz that God will give him a sign to indicate that these kings will not succeed. Let’s have a look. “Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.” But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.” Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David. Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel which means ‘God is with us’. By the time this child is old enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong, he will be eating yogurt and honey. For before the child is that old the lands of the two kings you fear so much will both be deserted. Now, if this is talking about Jesus being born hundreds of years later, how is that a comfort to King Ahaz? He’s about to be attacked! He was promised by God that this would be resolved within a few years that is, by the time the child is old enough to know right from wrong. This prophecy has nothing to do with Jesus. But what about the whole virgin thing, what’s going on there? Well, it’s a mistranslation. The word “virgin” should be translated as “young woman”. Most Christian bibles seem reluctant to correct it because of the controversy that would result. In 1952, the Revised Standard Version of the bible made the bold step to correct the verse. When that bible was released newspapers carried a story about a Baptist pastor that burned this particular page in Isaiah. He was protesting the change as he felt this was a corruption of the holy scriptures. It’s easy to understand why. This change undermines the foundational Christian doctrine of the virgin birth. It’s a prophecy that is endorsed by no less than one of the gospel authors. No wonder many christians were upset. Once you take away the virgin birth part of the prophecy what have you got left? A prediction that a young woman will name her baby Emmanuel? Not only is that unimpressive but we’ve already seen that it doesn’t apply to Jesus. Now, how do we know this is actually a mistranslation? We’ll have a look at that in Part 2. Thanks for watching.