Hank Hanegraaff, the host of the Bible Answer Man broadcast, reads Matthew 2: 1–12 and clarifies the difference between predictive prophecy and typological prophecy. In Matthew 2, when Herod asked the Jewish scholars where Christ was to be born, they replied: “‘In Bethlehem, ‘for this is what the prophet has written.’” As such, Micah 5:2 is a predictive prophecy directly and specifically fulfilled with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem as chronicled in Matthew 2:5. Typological prophecy is somewhat more complex. When Matthew writes, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Isaiah]: ‘The virgin with be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel—which means, God with us’” (Matthew 1:22–23), he is speaking of typological rather than predictive fulfillment. In the context of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 7), God provided King Ahaz with a sign guaranteeing that the two kings he feared would be destroyed. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” And “before the boy (the son) knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” What God promised came to pass. Isaiah “went to the prophetess and she conceived and gave birth to a son.” Before the boy knew how to “reject the wrong and choose the right,” Syria and Samaria were laid waste by superior Assyrian forces. Seven hundred years after faithless Ahaz, Matthew saw the temporary salvation of Judah as a type of the eternal salvation the people of God would experience through Jesus. Though Isaiah’s wife did not give birth as a virgin, Mary most certainly did.
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