"'Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel'" (Isaiah 7:14).
The time between God first promising a Savior and that Savior's actual arrival spanned millennia. For generations, the people of Israel watched and waited for God's redemption to come. All they had was God's word that it would happen.
That first promise wasn't the only one, though. The rest of the Old Testament is filled with foreshadowings and foretellings, each one a guarantee from God that He hadn't forgotten, that His plan was still in motion.
The prophet Isaiah has some of the most detailed proophecies about Jesus. One of the first tells of a great miracle that would surround the birth of God's Chosen One. He would not be an ordinary man, Isaiah proclaimed. His very birth would prove that, for He would be born of a virgin.
The strangeness of His life wouldn't end there. Isaiah later told in astonishing detail what the Savior's time on earth would look like. He would not be well-respected and loved by all. Instead, He would be rejected and despised, marked by His deep understanding of grief. He would bear the sorrows of the world, willingly taking them upon Himself.
And He would die. Contrary to the image of a conquering king that the people hoped for, the Savior would fulfill His purpose by dying a horrible death. "But he was pierced for our transgressions," Isaiah cried; "he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed" (53:5).
What could possibly be the purpose of this? Isaiah doesn't leave us to wonder: "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; [he shall] make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (53:11).
The special child, born of a virgin and named "God with us," would be the way for all people to be made right with God.