From Biblical Errancy Magazine by Dennis McKinsey

Messianic Prophecy (Isaiah 7:11-20, 8:2-8)

Few OT messianic prophecies carry more weight with apologists than the 7th chapter of Isaiah. Yet, like the 5th chapter of Micah (See: Issue #7) it is not applicable to Jesus for many reasons, which an itemized analysis of each verse will show:

(a) "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). In Hebrew this actually reads: "Behold the young woman is with child and bareth a son and calleth his name Immanuel." Christians changed "almah" which means "a young woman" in Hebrew to "virgin." The actual Hebrew word for virgin is "bethulah." Wherever the word "virgin" appears in the KJV of the OT, it comes from "bethulah." Isa. 7:14 and Gen. 24:43 are the only exceptions. Almah means maid, damsel, or a young woman, which is how it is translated in Ex. 2:8, Prov. 30:19 and Psalm 68:25 of the KJV. The RSV and the Jewish Masoretic texts correctly translate Isa. 7:14 as "a young woman." Mistranslators also changed "harah" from its correct meaning of "has concieved" (i.e. is) to "shall conceive." The word "harah" (conceived) is the Hebrew perfect tense, which in English represents past and completed action. There is not the remotest hint of future time. The correct translation, "is with child," is in the present tense and shows it pertains to a woman then existing.

(b) "...and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). Jesus was never called Immanuel except by those who do so in order to fulfill the prophecy. Never was Jesus referred to as Immanuel in the NT, except in Matt. 1:23 ("and they shall call his name Immanuel"). Nowhere in Isaiah does Isaiah call Immanuel a Messiah or Jesus Christ the son of God or Savior or Holy Redeemer. They are never equated or related in any way. Moreover, according to Luke 1:31 ("And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS") he was to be called Jesus, not Immanuel.

(c) "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know how to refuse the evil and choose the good" (Isa. 7:15). Applying this to Jesus seems irrational. How much sense would it make for Jesus (God) to learn to refuse evil and choose good?

(d) "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings" (Isa. 7:16). It would make no sense for Ahaz to be concerned with a sign--the birth of Jesus--that wouldn't be realized until centuries after the death of Ahaz. This verse shows that the prophecy is not referring to a future child, but to a child then conceived, a child then existing, on the way to being born. The reference to the kings of Syria and Israel further shows the verse is referring to a child back then.

(e) "And I (Isaiah--Ed.) got reliable witnesses, Uriah the priest and Zachariah the son of Jeberechiah, to attest for me. And I went to the prophetess and she concieved and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, Call his name Maher-shalal-hashbaz; for before the child knows how to cry 'My Father' or 'My Mother,'..." (Isa. 8:2-4). Maher-shalal-hashbaz means "Make speed spoil, hasten to the prey." Some biblicists have concluded that Maher-shalal-hashaz, like Immanuel, is referring to Jesus. John Calvin correctly denied the validity of this belief by stating, "Isaiah having propheised about the coming of Christ in the former chapter (Isa. 7:14) many improperly explain this (Maher-shalal-hashbaz--Ed.) also as relating to the same subject, that, endued with heavenly power, he (Jesus--Ed.) came to spoil 'the prince of this world' (John 12:31) and therefore 'hastened to the prey.' This ingenuity is pleasing enough but cannot at all harmonize with the text;...." (Calvin's Commentaries, on Isaiah, Vol. I, p. 262). Several aspects of these verses show they are referring to a child born hundreds of years before Jesus:

(1) Isaiah clearly states Maher-shalal-hashbaz is his son.

(2) The birth must have occurred when the two witnesses lived, which was in the time of Ahaz; otherwise, how could they be witnesses?

(3) Past tense verbs such as "conceived" and "bore" show it occurred in the time of Ahaz.

(4) Where and when was Jesus ever called Maher-shalal-hashbaz, especially in the NT?

(5) Where in the Bible was Mary shown to be or ever called a prophetess?

(6) Many theologians, such as the Jewish scholar Troki, even feel Immanuel and Maher-shalal-hashbaz are the same child, because both names are followed by, "For before the child shall...." which are in perfect consonance.

(f) "And he (the king of Assyria) shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over,...and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel" (Isa. 8:8). Jesus never owned any land, so how could he be Immanuel? Moreover, the Assyrians stopped passing through Judah hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born. The verse implies that Immanuel was either a king or the son of a king, which Jesus was not.


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