As some of my readers may know, there are public websites out there which allow subscribers to ask questions on various subject to which other subscribers can then post answers to. I joined on a lark, but found there are a lot of people seeking answers to deep spiritual questions out there. I’ve decided that some of these bear repeating to my readers, so this series will show you a question that a real person has asked on the Internet and my response. Enjoy.
Is Isaiah 7:14 a failed prophesy of Jesus as the messiah? Now I’m no scholar, but I can clearly see that the prophesy foretells the birth of someone named Emmanuel…not Jesus.
When it says that he shall be called Emmanuel which means God With Us, it means that people will call Him that, which they did (and do). In Isaiah 9:6 it lists a whole host of other names by which He shall be called later, Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counselor, etc.
Just as a man today might be called by many names, titles and nicknames, so was the Christ. After all, He is God Incarnate, so one name isn’t going to define Him.
Even in the OT, Yahweh goes by many descriptive names (Yahweh-Raphe, Yahweh-Tsidekenu, etc.)
Messiah just means “Chosen One.” A kind of champion or special servant. Cyrus the Great was a messiah, in the fact he was God’s chosen one to send His people back to their homeland, and an example of The Messiah to come, that is Jesus Christ.
You see this all over the OT. God taking mortal men and using them as a type or foreshadowing of Christ, to set an example for His people. “This guy is going to save you by sending you back to the promised land, remember this, because I’m sending another One like this who will send you back to me forever.” That’s obviously a paraphrase, but you do see similar language ALL over the prophets. There’s an immediate fulfillment of God’s plan (deliverance from a drought, a plague, captivity, etc.) and a future promise of complete fulfillment (the Christ and His atonement for us).
Hebrews 10:1, Colossians 2:17 and Hebrews 8:5 show us that much of what is recorded in the OT were there only as types and shadows of the reality to come, that is Christ.
The temple and its sacrifices, for example, could never make man right with God. Why then these sacrifices? To show man a type or foreshadowing of what was to come in Christ, so that when it came man would recognize it and believe.
In John 5:39 Jesus himself explains that the point of the OT Scriptures was to point mankind to Himself. To prepare us for His coming. In Galatians 3 starting in verse 19, Paul goes into detail explaining that the entire point of the Law (i.e. the OT) was to point us to Christ. The Law was not an end to itself, as many of the Jews believed.
Whew! Sorry for the long response. In short, Emmanuel is not a failed prophecy, Jesus was (and is) called this because He was “God With Us.” It’s just one of many “titles” or “nicknames” that the true Messiah would be honored with. Also, Cyrus was referred to as God’s messiah because he was a man chosen by God to deliver His people from bondage, but there are messiahs and there is The Messiah, that is the Christ, who God chose from before the foundations of the world itself to free us from the bondage of sin and death. All the “messiahs” of old were but types and shadows to foreshadow the coming of the True Messiah. (And coincidentally, this is also why Jesus of Nazareth has many more names and titles besides Messiah, to distinguish him from other “messiahs.”)
I hope that helps! Keep searching the Scriptures!