The nation of Israel was a mighty kingdom under the reign of King David approximately 3,000 years ago. His son Solomon began well as the next king but was weakened by the affiliation of a ridiculous number of wives (700) – most of whom were from foreign, pagan nations. By the time we come to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, we find that the 12 tribes of Israel are divided and further weakened under his kingship.

The 10 tribes of Jacob’s 12 sons move north of Jerusalem as the rascal Jeroboam assumes power and divides the once-great nation. These ten take the title of “Israel” – or, at times, “Ephraim.” Their formation is centered around the city of Samaria. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah are left to Rehoboam and are still located around the city of Jerusalem. These two take the title of “Judah,” as we discuss the nations, and become known as the “Southern” kingdom.

Often, we find a record of battles between the northern and southern aspects of Israel’s divided nation. In Isaiah 7:2, we study the history in which the northern kingdom (Ephraim) yokes up with the nation of Syria in an effort to defeat Judah, the southern kingdom (called “the house of David” in this verse). Isaiah writes in the time period of 750 to 700 B.C. and is recording events that took place during his lifetime, in this instance.

Godless King Ahaz is now in power over Judah, the southern kingdom. He is terrified at the prospect of being devastated by the looming confederacy of the northern kingdom with Syria. God, however, is not yet ready to allow Judah to be taken captive and so instructs Isaiah to meet with King Ahaz to encourage him not to fear this threat of the two northern enemies.

Ahaz is a doubter and an unbeliever in the true God, although he acts as though he believes. God tells Isaiah to have Ahaz ask for a sign that would verify God’s protection for his little nation (Isaiah 7:10-11). Ahaz is a pious fraud and replies to Isaiah that he would never dare to tempt the Lord by asking for a sign. He is one of the biggest of the hypocrites we find in Scripture and wearies God with his facade (verse 13).

God will always meet any test that we may honestly put forth, and so He tells Ahaz that He will give him a sign: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). How about that sign, Ahaz? God says that Ahaz will not be attacked and then puts a foundation under His prophecy. It would yet be centuries in fruition.

About 700 years would pass before the virgin birth of Immanuel would come. Matthew 1:18-23 shows the prophecy as history, beginning with “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”

Isaiah and Matthew are separated by seven centuries but speak of the same virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Immanuel means “God with us,” and they called Him “Jesus” in that He would be our Savior. He could only save mankind from the penalty of sin if He were truly Immanuel.

If Jesus Christ had not been born of a virgin, His blood would not have been the blood of God, His true Father. Without that, Christ would not have been sinless in His origin. He could not have then been “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He therefore would have had no deity and could not have “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Hebrews 10:12). There would have not been any possibility of a blood atonement for the sins of mankind. You and I must accept and move ahead in agreement that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

The great application of all this to you and me today is that without the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, there would be no possibility of our being forgiven for our sins. Our sin debt could only grow and grow as we went through life, and its weight would plunge us into an eternity of Hell at its end. The virgin birth of God’s only Son is the one way that He chose to facilitate our relationship to God as children, to restore the sin-broken fellowship we so desperately need to have and thus to give us the blessed hope of certainty in Heaven with Him forever.

Christ became the Son of man so that we could be sons and daughters of God. He identified with us so that we could identify with Him. Christ cannot save earth’s people from their sins unless He is Immanuel, “God with us.” He cannot be God with man unless He is virgin-born. This makes Christ alone the incarnation of God. It moves us directly to His sinless life and thus His atoning death on the Cross of Calvary.

The season of Christ’s birth is a fact from the past that is taken by faith. It should carry us forward to remember that He would one day die for our sins and then resurrect back up from the dead. His resurrection authenticates the resurrection of everyone who has received Christ since that great day nearly two millennia back in time. It all gives us the opportunity to be: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” records the first fact of Isaiah 9:6, which gives us the Christmas account. We then see a colon which divides the thought from the rest of the sentence. So far, that colon has spanned 2,000 years, until the day when “the government shall be upon his shoulder.” Verse seven tell us that “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this,” and so we can just take it as that. We do not need to know how it will happen.

That little double-dot colon includes the events found later on, in Isaiah chapter 53. Along with Psalm 22, this chapter gives a vivid account of the suffering and eventual satisfaction of Christ. Isaiah 53:2 speaks of His tender and common humanity, and verse three of how He was rejected and despised (and still is by most today). Jesus Christ bears the grief and iniquity for sin that you and I deserve (verses 4-6) in his substitutionary death. The next three verses prophesy the details we now understand as history.

The gospel story does not end with a deceased Savior, still hanging on a cross. We do not worship a dead Christ, but rather a living. He rose again from the grave in victory! Isaiah records the satisfaction and saving resurrection of Christ in verses nine through 11 and His sovereign reign in verse 12.

We have a rejoicing Savior in Christ! Millions have found sweet forgiveness and healing in Christ over the millennia since His life. There is real joy for us this season if we will accept the gift of eternal life that He longs to give.

Christmas begins with the hallelujah of Christ’s virgin birth because it makes possible our second birth. You’ll never have the real joy of Christmas without the true worship of Jesus Christ! Start your new year with Him. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah!

R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.