Focus on Jesus Series
The Virgin Birth: Its Importance
by Ed Vasicek
Back in the Garden of Eden, God promised that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent's head (Genesis 3:15). Throughout the Old Testament, posterity is kept track of through the man or the couple. But in Genesis 3:16 the promise stands alone because it emphasizes that the Messiah would be the seed of the woman ALONE, at least apart from a man. This is the first reference to the virgin birth of the Messiah.
Ancient religions corrupted this theme. Since the events of Genesis were passed down generation to generation, it should come as no surprise that the accounts varied and were corrupted as societies left the belief of one God and corrupted their religions to embrace many gods and the worship of created beings (see Romans 1).
John MacArthur summarizes these deteriorated versions of the virgin birth:
".... the Romans believed that Zeus impregnated Semele without contact and that she conceived Dionysus, lord of the earth. The Babylonians believed that Tammuz...was conceived in the priestess Semiramis by a sunbeam. In an ancient Sumerian/Accadian story inscribed on a wall, Tukulti II (890-884 BC) told how the gods created him in the womb of his mother.... At the conception of Buddha, his mother supposedly saw a great white elephant enter her belly. Hinduism has claimed that the divine Vishnu, after reincarnation as a fish, tortoise, boar, and lion, descended into the womb of Devaki and was born as her son Krishna.… There is even a legend that Alexander the Great was virgin born by the power of Zeus..." (MacArthur, John, Matthew, Vol. 1, p. 12).
Those opposed to the truth of Scripture reason thusly: "Christianity borrowed the idea of a virgin birth from the pagan religions surrounding it." We interpret matters thusly: "The fact that so many religions include a virgin birth indicates a common source centuries earlier, namely the promise in the Garden of Eden."
The prophecy of the virgin birth is found in Isaiah 7:14, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son…" Numerous Old Testament prophecies deal with the Messiah so that the devout could identify Him when He came. Christ fulfilled those prophecies, including being born of a virgin. But besides pointing to the Messiah, the virgin birth has theological significance.
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