do you believe it’s possible?
The virgin birth is hard to swallow. For some people it’s easier to file this ‘Christmas miracle’ with the Marvel movies. It’s simply hard to grasp that God and man could collide in one form. But then again there have always been throughout history hard to believe facts and figures. maybe we have to look beyond the “thing” to accept it and believe it to be true.
Columbus set out on his voyage with the belief that the world was flat, until he discovered it wasn’t. Today it’s common knowledge that the world is indeed round, but up until the 15th century, most people just accepted that the world was flat. Even though some (the greeks in 500 b.c) had been claiming that it was round for 1000 years. Sometimes it takes humanity hundreds of years to discover or to accept things unseen . Facts today considered common knowledge were inconceivable thousands of years ago.
look at what has been discovered since the microscope and the telescope were invented: Nano technologies, viruses ,solar systems, heart transplants and cell phones airplanes or sending instant messages around the globe. Things that humanity would have had to “have faith” for in their lifetime, are plain today. There are some things we can’t know until we know. and some things we simply cannot know because of individual limitations. for example, you were born blind, how could you understand the color blue? if you ever could it would have to be in a different way then visually. you might create a different method for understanding colors based on the information you personally have access to. Isn’t that still true today? Don’t we gain knowledge and understand through systems and method and resources that we have access to or generate out of need? It is difficult to understand things we don’t experience sensually, but it doesn’t diminish reality, it may require faith, but not faith in the thing itself.
The virgin birth for example. Many of us don’t fully understand it, because we haven’t seen it, so we dismiss it. Others accept it almost blindly.
I fall into the faith camp; I believe the virgin birth because it’s in the bible. but in my mind, I don’t have to believe in the virgin birth, because my faith doesn’t rest on the virgin birth. I don’t have to fully understand it to accept it. I only have to believe that anything is possible. Call me a forward thinker. Could it have been a mistranslation in the text, sure some say Mary wasn’t actually a virgin but a young girl, a maiden? possibly. Could it have been a natural birth, Joseph’s baby? perhaps. some people believe the entire Christian faith relies on two things the virgin birth and the resurrections does my faith rely on the virgin birth? some people don’t believe Christianity because of the virgin birth claim. But i don’t think Christian faith relies on the virgin birth to be true.
There are a lot of unanswered questions spinning around God, the unknown and invisible creator and author of the most famous text in history. which states a lot of pretty “unbelievable” impossible miracles and events. Take for example, the creation of the world, or the global flood, the parting of the red sea, bread from heaven and yes raising the dead. Perhaps believing the virgin birth isn’t really about a believing a virgin can have a baby. Perhaps it’s not about what you believe about science, or nature at all. but it might begin with what you believe about God.
If you believe that God made the earth, and could form people from dust, , and if you believe that he is all powerful then you believe that God doesn’t have to abide by the rules of nature, then He can change and bend the universe to his will to his creativity, in as much as van gogh had the right and ability to walk up to his famous painting “a starry night” and add a star that wasn’t there before.
God is outside of time and space he is outside of the order or the inhabited earth, he is beyond and above and before and ahead of us. He is eternal. so what we believe about Mary and the virgin birth doesn’t really rest on THEM at all, it sorts of rests on us and what we believe about God.
it’s definitely hard to wrap our finite minds around things we cannot see touch taste or hear. The question is not is it possible, but could God make it happen? the reality and answer already is its not possible or we would see it every day, but yes, He can still make it happen, God is outside of impossibilities. Possibility isn’t a requirement for God’s work.
Somethings exist, we just don’t know it yet or haven’t seen or discovered them yet like the flat earth. Some things exist, and we have seen them like the sun. some things existed not because we see or believe only because God can and did make it to appear for a moment in time and space and it will never be repeated so we have to just decide what we believe about God not the things God does. If God is all powerful and if you believe he created the world, then it’s not a hard thing to believe in a virgin birth. It’s just another one of his masterpieces.
2 thoughts on “The Virgin Birth”
It sure has been some time now, since I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down to read one of your pieces.
As I take the time to do that now, I’m reminded of just what an eloquent, skilled and talented writer that you are. And if I haven’t told you often enough before now, I’ll say again- reading your work is like receiving an invitation to an experience, filled with nuggets of rich insight on which to meditate on, long after the visit is over.
In all sincerity, I find it to be a refreshing reminder of that which is of true encouragement; with God, nothing is impossible. Each of us know what it is like to have something we long for; something for which seems in the natural to be so impossible, but yes also for the reminder that Yahuah יהוה is indeed a God, whose essence perfectly transcends time, space and occasion; void of all the constraints and limitations we know so well as human beings. Among them, often the challenge of our own inability to just believe in what He has promised, despite the fact that we may not yet fully see it or that it may not look the way we thought at first, it would.
Through your words, of being.’ one who is of the camp of faith’, I am reminded also of what is spoken of in Isaiah 26:2-4
“Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith (remains faithful). You, (Yahweh; יהוה) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in יהוה, forever, for יהוה ,יהוה Himself, is the Rock eternal.” It is one of my very favorites.
Perhaps I’ll begin by answering the question you begin with, ‘Do you believe it’s possible” and with particular emphasis on your example of the virgin birth, out of the book of Matthew found in the New Testament. Yes, despite the fact that it is likely rhetorical in nature, given that while it is true that anything is possible with God, the weightier question for me, as with anything rather becomes, is the example truth?
The older I get, the more I find, in my endeavor to develop an ability to place confidence in anything I hear or read, I must first at least consider the authenticity of the source claiming truth. The reason? Truth is substantial and like a rock, never weakens or changes in its constitution, yes even though water can come from it.
And while it is possible to put one’s faith or confidence in something we hear, read or yes, in measure, even experience, without a shred of empirical evidence to support it, it doesn’t by any wise, negate the harmonious dance that ensues when faithfulness takes the floor with authentic truth. Which in my experience, can only happen, when that truth holds up under the careful scrutiny of examination.
Even if not for anything else, I’d think definitely in order to develop the kind of unwavering faithfulness in my walk with God, that I so genuinely value.
Here are at least five verses out of scripture that support the fact that the genuine words of God can well stand up under the careful scrutiny of thoughtful examination.
Proverbs 30:5 tells us that, ‘Every word of God is tried; He is a shield unto them that take refuge in Him’
And in 2 Samuel 22:31, ‘As for God, His way is perfect; the word of Yahuah יהוה is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 12:6 also confirms this in that, ‘The words of Yahuah יהוה are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace, like gold purified sevenfold.’ And not just once but again in Psalm 18:30 when David wrote, ‘As for God, His way is perfect; the word of Yahuah יהוה is flawless. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.’ And yet again, when he writes in Psalm 19:8 ‘The statutes of Yahuah יהוה are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of Yahuah יהוה is pure, enlightening the eyes’
And this out of my favorite chapter of Psalms 119:96-98 ‘I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceedingly broad. O How love I thy Law! it is my meditation all day. Thou through thy Commandments’ hast made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me.’
Amos 3 says ‘Hear this word יהוה has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:” Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Likewise, Mathew 12:25 and Mark 3:24 says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand”
Here, there is an agreement between both Tanach (Old Testament) and New Testament, in that two cannot walk together, unless they be agreed, whether it be two individuals or two kingdoms or two houses.
But the question I found myself asking, in the very same way, is how can two principles walk together unless they be agreed? And does the very same hold true for the two Testaments that make up the Bible we know today, because based on the verses above, they would have to be in harmony with one another -And I would think, this very principle would be applicable, even with respect to both Testaments, or they will fall away (from each other).
And so I’ll answer your rhetorical question (perhaps if only to me) with regard to the Virgin birth found in Matthew. It is already well known among most Bible scholars, that out of the entire New Testament only Mathew and Luke make mention of Mary being a virgin and only in Matthew, is this claim linked with the Hebrew scriptures, as Paul in Galatians, says.’ he was borne of a woman’ (not a virgin).
Most of us do know the account found in Mathew 1:22-23, an angel tells Joseph that his wife, a virgin, was made pregnant by God and what his name will be. The author says that all this took place that the word spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son,’
Now, despite the fact that the prophecy is not cited, nor which prophet it is even speaking of, its pretty well known that it has been linked to Isaiah 7:14, but that is beside the point and rather than to make a sloppy attempt at my own exhaustive study on this topic in question, I’ve attached below, a letter of response.
The letter is written by a well renowned Hebrew scholar and Jewish Rabbi from Israel, to an inquiry on the topic of the Hebrew word Almah, translated into English as the word Virgin, as found in Matthew and linked to Isaiah. The response is to an individual who had at first inquired of his/her own Pastor regarding this matter, before bringing the inquiry, for clarification on accuracy, to him.
While reading, it’s important to note that the Jewish people, they don’t evangelize, as we see by example in the book of Ruth, when Ruth and Orpah pleaded with Naomi (a Jew) to let them go with her back to the land of Israel. Naomi tries in all earnestness to send them both back to Moab and Orpah finally does go back to Moab, but Ruth clings to Naomi. This Rabbi did not and does not seek out any non-Jews from out of any denomination, ever for any purpose, but rather his ministry is to the Jewish people that they might know the Scriptures. This individual, reached out to the Rabbi for clarification and his response titled, ANSWER, follows this person’s request.
‘Dear Rabbi Singer,
I have listened to your tapes, and I have also read a number of your articles on your web site regarding Christ’s virgin birth, and you make some very good points.
I have discussed this issue with my pastor, and although he did remark that he finds your arguments “interesting,” he brought up a good argument (I think). He asked that if the Hebrew word alma only meant “young woman” and not “virgin,” why is it that in every place the word alma appears in the Bible it is always referring to a virgin? I think he has made a good point and will relate your answer to him.
I thank you in advance.’
Your pastor’s contention that “every place the word alma appears in the Bible it is always referring to a virgin” is incorrect and misleading. This is not the first time that I have come across a Christian leader who has made this erroneous assertion; and each and every time I encounter this wild contention, I am puzzled as to why these apologists do not do their research before making this claim. This is especially the case in our modern age where computer technology has made it possible to quickly and easily perform exhaustive word studies. I will briefly explain your question for my readers who are unfamiliar with this subject.
For nearly two millennia the Church has insisted that the Hebrew word almah עַלְמָה can only mean “virgin.” This is a vital position for defenders of Christianity to take because Matthew 1:22-23 translates alma in Isaiah 7:14 as “virgin.” The first Gospel quotes this well-known verse to provide the only “Old Testament” proof text for the supposed virgin birth of Jesus. The stakes are high for Christendom. If the Hebrew word alma does not mean a virgin, Matthew crudely misquoted the prophet Isaiah, and both a key tenet of Christianity and the credibility of the first Gospel collapses.
How accurate is this Christian claim? The only place to explore this assertion is in the Jewish Scriptures. If the Hebrew word alma means virgin, then each usage in the Bible must be either a clear reference to a virgin or at the very least appear ambiguous. The word alma appears in the Jewish Scriptures seven times in the feminine and twice in the masculine. If even one reference refers to a woman who is clearly not a virgin, then Matthew’s rendition of Isaiah 7:14 becomes untenable.
One of the places where the uncommon Hebrew word almah appears in the Bible is in the Book of Proverbs.
The word “proverb” means “to be like,” thus Proverbs is a book of comparisons between common, concrete images and life’s most profound truths. Proverbs are simple, moral statements (or illustrations) that highlight and teach fundamental realities about life. In the following passage, King Solomon presents the following vivid analogy:
‘There are three things which are too wonderful for me, for which I do not understand: 19the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a young woman [b’almah][/b’almah]. 20This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.”
(Proverbs 30:18-20) In the above three verses, King Solomon compares a man with an alma to three other things: an eagle in the sky, a serpent on a rock, and a ship in the sea.
What do these four things all have in common?
They leave no trace.
After the eagle has flown across the sky, it is impossible to determine whether an eagle had ever flown through that airspace. Once a snake has slithered over a rock, there is no way to discern that the snake had ever crossed there (as opposed to a snake slithering over sand or grass, where it leaves a trail). After a ship passes through the sea, the wake behind it comes together and settles behind it, leaving no way to discern that a ship had ever moved through this body of water.
Similarly, King Solomon declares that once a man has been sexually intimate with an almah, i.e. a young woman, no trace of sexual intercourse is visible, unlike a virgin who will leave behind a discharge of blood after her hymen is broken.
Therefore, in the following verse (Proverbs 30:20) King Solomon explains that once this adulterous woman “eats” (a metaphor for her fornication), she removes the trace of her sexual infidelity, “wipes her mouth, and says, ‘I have done no wrong.’” The word alma clearly does not mean a virgin.
In the same way that in the English language the words “young woman” does not indicate sexual purity, in the Hebrew language there is no relationship between the word’s almah and virgin. On the contrary, it is usually a young woman who bears children. The word alma only conveys age/gender. Had Isaiah wished to speak about a virgin, he would have used the word betulah1 (בְּתוּלָה) not almah. The word betulah appears frequently in the Jewish Scriptures and is the only word – in both biblical and modern Hebrew – that conveys sexual purity.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the masculine form of the noun עַלְמָה (alma) is עֶלֶם (elem), which means a “young man,” not a male virgin. This word appears twice in the Jewish Scriptures (I Samuel 17:56, 20:22). As expected, without exception, all Christian Bibles correctly translate עֶלֶם as a “young man,” “lad,” or “stripling,” never “virgin.” Why does the King James Version of the Bible translate the masculine Hebrew noun לָעֶלֶם (la’elem) as “to the young man” in I Samuel 20:22, and yet the feminine form of the same Hebrew noun הָעַלְמָה as “a virgin” in Isaiah 7:14? The answer is Christian Bibles had no need to mistranslate I Samuel 20:22 because this verse was not misquoted in the New Testament.
Rabbi Tovia Singer
In fact, although Isaiah used the Hebrew word almah only one time in his entire corpus (7:14), the prophet uses this word virgin (betulah) five times throughout the book of Isaiah (23:4; 23:12; 37:22; 47:1; 62:5)’
Recall again what Proverbs 30:5 tells us that, ‘Every word of God is tried; He is a shield unto them that take refuge in Him’, Every single word.
Perhaps something for us all to take into consideration, as we each grow in our faithfulness to יהוה
Shalom my Dear Sister
wow I had no idea you responded to this. It’s funny that I should discover it precisely one year after you posted. I don’t post very often because i don’t think anyone reads what i write. Thanks for taking the time to read what I wrote.