Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.
- Isaiah 7:14-16
This week’s text is an excellent example of “double prophecy.”
The original readers / hearers of the text would not have heard a Messianic prophecy. They were concerned about attacks from the surrounding nations and would have understood Isaiah’s message here to give them a sense of when invasions were going to go down.
That’s the first layer.
But there’s a layer behind that, hidden to the original readers / hearers and perhaps even to Isaiah himself. It can only be seen by looking backward. This text is a great example of this.
Matthew’s Gospel reaches back to this prophecy to explain Mary’s story and Jesus having been born of a virgin: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Mt. 1:23-24). Matthew saw the link between what he heard from Mary and what he remembered from Isaiah.
This happens often in biblical prophetic literature. There’s a fulfillment that happens in the near term and then a second fulfillment that happens down the road. A lot of the prophecies about Christmas fit into this category.
And, in a way, this is a lot like life. We see some events in the windshield and others in the rear window. Some things look more significant once we’re past them. The meaning of the moment fits into a bigger historical context.
The friend becomes a spouse. The interest becomes a major. The hobby becomes a career. The trauma becomes a point of connection. The loss makes room for something new. The past reveals a God who has been at work: protecting, sheltering, strengthening, guiding, redeeming.
Look at your own life. When have you had an experience that took on greater meaning at a later date? How might this prepare you to receive a blessing from the Lord in your current season of life?