Over the past few months, we have been considering the great truth of the eternal sonship of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The matters with which we have been dealing are true of Him eternally; indeed, they would be true even if He had never come into this world. Now we turn to that which is very much to do with His coming here – His birth.
First, a word of explanation regarding the title: “His Unnatural Virgin Birth.” The word “unnatural” is there simply to lay emphasis on the word “virgin.” After all, the virgin birth is most certainly “unnatural.” His birth was contrary to the laws of nature; but how could this be? He was born of a virgin. There is nothing in the Scriptures to suggest that the actual birth, in Bethlehem, did not take place in the way a birth normally would. It is what took place nine months earlier that makes this birth unique.
We will look at the importance of the virgin birth in regard to the Old Testament Scriptures. Next month, Lord willing, we will consider the record of it in the New Testament. We will consider four reasons, from the Old Testament, why the virgin birth was necessary.
We do not have to proceed too far from the start of our Bibles to encounter the first reason – Genesis 3, where we have the sad story of the entrance of sin into the world. While the record is given in Genesis 3, a very concise statement of its implications is given in Romans 5:12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” From the day Adam sinned, both a sinful nature and death became inevitable results for his posterity. Thus, anyone born of a human father could neither be sinless, immune from death, nor able to die for sinners. And yet this was precisely what was necessary if sinners were to be saved.
What was the solution? In the latter part of Romans 5, two men and what they did is contrasted: Adam and Christ. The former performed a sinful act (in the garden), resulting in many being made sinners and being subject to death; the latter performed a righteous act (at the cross), resulting in many being made righteous, and receiving eternal life. Only One Who had not inherited Adam’s sinful nature could bring this about. How could this be possible? It was only by the virgin birth, whereby God’s Son came without any trace of Adam’s sinful nature, without death having any claim upon Him. He, and He alone, could voluntarily lay down His life for sinners, and that is what He did, with all the blessed consequences for us.
Still in Genesis 3, we find another reason. The Lord speaks to the serpent and tells him, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (v15). Doubtless, the significance of this statement would not have been known to Adam and Eve, but, looking at it in the light of New Testament revelation, we can see its full import. We have the great promise that a human being would defeat Satan. But it could not be just any human being – it had to be one fitting the description “her seed,” and that condition could only be satisfied by the virgin birth. Every other person born in this world had a human father, and thus could not be called “woman’s seed.” If this prophecy of the defeat of Satan was to be fulfilled, the One to do it must come by virgin birth.
For our Lord Jesus Christ to reign as King upon the throne of David, in fulfilment of Isaiah 9:7 and other Scriptures, He must be of the kingly line. Matthew 1 shows us that Joseph was of the kingly line. However, one of the kings listed there (v12) is Jechonias (“Jeconiah,” also called “Coniah” and “Jehoiachin”) and of him the Lord says, “No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah” (Jer 22:30). So, while Joseph was in the kingly line, neither he, nor any other of Jechonias’ descendants, could sit upon the throne.
It is marvellous what God did. Joseph took Mary as his wife, accepting responsibility for her child, and thus legally the Lord Jesus inherited the rights to the throne of David. Yet, because of the virgin birth, He did not come under the curse of Jeconias’ posterity. The way was clear for Him to be “born king of the Jews.”
Finally, the virgin birth was necessary because the Scriptures had explicitly stated that it would happen. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). There were particular circumstances at that time to which this prophecy related, but, as is the case with many OT prophecies, the temporary and partial fulfilment foreshadowed a far greater and fuller realization of the prophecy. That this is so here is confirmed by the fact that it is quoted in Matthew 1:22, 23. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” God had said it would happen, and so (as with all His promises) it must take place.
Thus, in order that a sinless One could die for sinners; that a Person could have victory over Satan; that One of the kingly line could reign upon David’s throne; and that the Scriptures could be fulfilled, the virgin birth was an absolute necessity.