295: Jeremiah 31:22

COPYRIGHT WARNING

The Prophecies of the Messiah: Prophecy 295

The Messiah will be born of a virgin.

Old Testament Prediction:

Jeremiah 31:22 How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—A woman shall encompass a man.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 1:18-20 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Application:

Prophecy 295 is a difficult Old Testament verse to be sure. Many scholars and Bible commentators are not really sure what Jeremiah 31:22 is actually indicating. There are a few ancient commentaries on this verse that indicate that Jewish scholars living closer to the time of Jesus, believed that the certain meaning of this verse is its description of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.[1]

Concerning Jeremiah 31:22, Zohar in Gen. tom. 13.4 states:

“This shall be in the time of the Messiah, which will be on the sixth day;” that is, the six thousandth year. Also”: a woman shall compass a man.”[2]

In commentary of Jeremiah 31:22, R. Joshua ben Levi writes:

“He, that is, God, heals with the same he wounds; so will you find in Israel, they sinned by a virgin, and were punished in virgins, Ezekiel 23:1; so he comforts them by a virgin, according to Jeremiah 31:21-22; “turn again, O virgin of Israel”, & c. “a woman shall compass a man”

The word “Encompass” means to surround, to have or hold, to cause something to take place.[3] This definition certainly allows for the possibility that this “new thing” the Lord is creating is something spectacular; specifically, the Lord will cause a woman who has never known a man, to give birth to the Messiah. When the Bible speaks of the Lord creating “a new thing,” it is most often something that has never taken place before. It is a fact that there is no record of any woman, other than Mary, who had never had sexual contact with a man, who conceived and bore a child. This event was, by its very nature, an amazing miracle.

The promise of a virgin birth:

Soon after Adam’s sin in Genesis Chapter 3, God promises a redeemer who will come in the future, described as “The Seed of a Woman” (Prophecy 1). The unique language of this promise is unmistakably directed at a future woman who will conceive a child without the aid of a human father. We understand today that Isaiah’s prophecy of a young virgin who will conceive and bear the Savior of the world is the object of this first prophecy found in the Bible. We are certain of this fact by the comments of the angel who came to Joseph after Mary was found to be with child:

1. His wife Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit.
2. Her conception was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that a virgin will bear a son, who will be God with us.

Matthew 1:20-23 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

The dispute over whether Isaiah was describing a “young woman” (almah), or a virgin, is settled by the text of Matthew 1:20-23. The angel said emphatically that Jesus conception was by the Holy Spirit, upon Mary, who was a virgin. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that a virgin would conceive and bear a son, case closed.

A woman does not have the “Seed” residing in her body; she has the egg that requires a man to place his seed within her in order to begin the process of life. In the description of the virgin birth of Matthew 1:18-19, the angel informs Joseph that Jesus’ conception will be through the Holy Spirit who will cause Mary to conceive and bear a Son. In this regard, a woman has encompassed a man (holds Him within).

Another consideration for a correct understanding in the context of this verse of scripture, is Jeremiah’s description of the “backsliding” of Israel—together with the certainty that God, in response to this backsliding, will do a “new thing.” Specifically, He will cause a virgin to conceive and bear the Messiah, who will save all Israel and the whole world from their sins. Many scholars believe that because Jeremiah describes this event as a “new thing,” this language requires a supernatural event of God, such as a virgin birth to bring a Savior to redeem “backsliding” Israel.[4]

In this regard, the woman shall encompass a man in a way that is not possible outside of the Holy Spirit of God.

The total body of evidence proves conclusively that this Isaiah is speaking of the Messiah’s birth through a virgin, this is the reasonable conclusion when all the evidence is considered. Certainly, the ancient Hebrew commentaries from Zohar, as well as early church historians, felt that the term “new thing” was speaking of something that God would do that was unprecedented in the history of the world—a virgin birth.

It is my opinion that this verse from Jeremiah is speaking of the Messiah coming forth from a virgin; and for this reason, I have included it in these 365 prophecies. The reader will have to make up their own mind.

See also Prophecy 164, from Isaiah 7:14a, for information on the importance of the virgin birth and the true meaning of the word “almah,” from which our English word “virgin” was translated.

The significance of the virgin birth is understood when we consider that had Jesus not been born of a virgin, He could not be the Savior of the world.

In order for anyone to be the Savior of all man’s sin, that person would need to be without sin. Only a spotless Savior could offer His life for all mankind. The value of the sacrifice that would be required to pay for all of the sins of every person, for all time, is beyond comprehension. An ordinary man who has sinned himself could not possibly bear the sins of another person, since he would also need a Savior.

It would take a sacrifice of eternal value to redeem the lives of all people, for all time. This sacrifice would have to be so costly, that it could satisfy the requirement of God’s law in punishing and removing the sins of the whole world—from the time of Adam—to the end of the age.

The one making the sacrifice would therefore have to be perfect in every way. By one perfect sacrifice, He could pay for the sins of the whole world.

Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Hebrews 10:12 But this Man Jesus, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…

This is why Isaiah was predicting that when the Messiah came, He would be perfect—beginning with His virgin birth and continuing with a perfect life.

It is for these reasons that there is no other person in the history of the world who could make a valid claim that he is the way to heaven. Since all men are born sinners, no man could be the savior of any other man. Only Jesus Christ, who has the undeniable testimony that He was “without sin,” is qualified to be the Savior of all people.

In this, Jesus has accomplished and fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:22, that God has done a truly remarkable new thing, that a virgin should encompass the Savior of the world in her womb and bring Him to us so that all who will believe can be saved.


NOTES:
[1] The Jewish scholars acknowledged that the Messiah is the intended meaning of this verse. In Zohar in Gen. tom. 13. 4., describes their commentary as follows: “This shall be in the time of the Messiah, which will be on the sixth day;” that is, the six thousandth year. Also”: a woman shall compass a man”; says R. Hona, in the name of R. Ame, this is the King Messiah. So says R. Joshua ben Levi. “He, that is, God, heals with the same he wounds; so will you find in Israel, they sinned by a virgin, and were punished in virgins, Ezekiel 23:1; so he comforts them by a virgin, according to Jeremiah 31:21; “turn again, O virgin of Israel”, &c. “a woman shall compass a man”. R Huna, in the name of R. Idi and R. Joshua, said, that this man is the King Messiah, of whom it is said, Psalm 2:7, “this day have I begotten thee”
[2] Ibid.
[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2012
[4] Says R. Hona, in the name of R. Ame, this is the King Messiah. So says R. Joshua ben Levi. “He, that is, God, heals with the same he wounds; so will you find in Israel, they sinned by a virgin, and were punished in virgins, Ezekiel 23:1; so he comforts them by a virgin, according to Jeremiah 31:21; “turn again, O virgin of Israel”, &c. “a woman shall compass a man”.

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