The Virgin Birth & Eastern Customs.

Dr E.K. Victor Pearce

I received a letter from a listener to one of my radio broadcasts:


"After one of your broadcasts I opened my bible and re-read Matthew 1 :18 - 21,

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise;  when his mother Mary was espoused (Married) to Joseph,  before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.  Then Joseph her husband,  being a just man,  and not willing to make her a public example,  was minded to put her away privately.  But while he thought on these things,  behold the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream,  saying "Joseph,  thou son of David,  do not fear to take Mary as your wife. for that which is begotten in her is by the Holy Ghost."

So how can you say that Mary was not married, and suggest our Saviour was born out of wedlock?


This shows how one can be misunderstood through not using clear language.  We are sometimes obscure by using tactful words on a delicate subject.  When Jesus was born,  Mary and Joseph were married but had not come together.  Another asks,  if Joseph was only engaged to the Virgin Mary,  why did he have to divorce her when he found she was going to have a baby which he knew was not his?



Different Marriage Customs



The marriage custom was different from our western one.  When a young couple were engaged,  that was regarded as binding upon them and it could only be broken if they were divorced.,  but they did not live together until they had taken the next step of marriage itself.   Actually,  if Joseph had carried out the full law of Moses,  he would have done more than divorce her, he would have had her put to death for adultery.  But because he loved her and was a just man,  meaning he was merciful,  he decided only to divorce her, and to saver her as much pain as possible,  to do it privately.  It is obvious that he did not believe her story.  He could not accept that it was the Holy Spirit who had brought about the conception.


Then the angel told Joseph that Mary was truthful.  The conception was a miracle.  The angel told him to go ahead with the marriage,  but not to have sexual relations until after  she had given birth to her first - born son,   and Joseph call him Jesus, as the angel instructed him to do.


This means that when the Lord Jesus was born,  he was not born out of wedlock (even though Joseph was not the father)  God was the father, by the Holy Spirit.  All the accounts make this quite clear.



Think how providential the rules of engagement and marriage were at that time. They made it possible for Mary to be pledged to Joseph when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit,  while she was still a virgin,  but made it possible for Mary and Joseph to be legally married before Jesus was actually  born.  Thus Jesus was not born out of wedlock, as Joseph and Mary had not yet come together.



The Betrothal of Joseph and Mary.



Further particulars are given by Edersheim in  'Life and Times of Jesus',   about the betrothal customs:


'The bride was chosen,  not as in Judea,  where money was too often the motive,  but as in Jerusalem.   both were of the royal lineage of David.  Most probably the two were nearly related,  while Mary could also claim kinship with the priesthood,  being no doubt on her mother's side,  a blood relative of Elizabeth, the priest-wife of Zachariah.  Even this seems to imply that Mary's familymust shortly before have held highrr rank,  for only with such, did custom sanction any alliance on the part of Priests.  But at the time of their betrothal,  of Joseph and Mary alike,  were extremely poor,  as appears - not indeed from his being a carpenter,  since a trade was regarded as almost a religious duty - but from the offering at the presentation of Jesus in the Temple.


Accordingly  their betrothal must have been of the simplest,  and the dowry settled the smallest possible.  



'A Virgin Shall Conceive'.



There is something else that is not underestood.  The prophecy which Matthew quotes from Isaiah chapter 7,  says that a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.  Some think the word virgin, just means a young women.  We now know that it did mean a virgin,  and those who think they are cleaverer than mathew,  should read Mary's words in Luke's Gospel,  where she says to the angel,  'How can I have a baby when I have not had sexual relations with a man'  in other words,  she knew the conception had taken place whle she was still a virgin,  and that it happened by the Holy Spirit.  That is why Joseph was told it would fulfil a literal meaning of the prophesy.  Jesus would be 'God with us' - the meaning of Emmanuel.  That was because there was no human father.  But cynical minds will always remain unconvinced.


Another prophecy in Isaiah chapter 9 says that the son given by God would be 'the mighty God, the everlasting father,  the prince of peace.'

Now John speaks out very boldly and plainly in his first epistle. chapter 4:3.  He says that anyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ is God who has become man,  is not of God, but is of the antichrist,  and then he is prompted by evil,  deceiving spirits.  The bible speaks of this,  and sometimes bluntly,  in order to be fully understood.  Thus in chapter 5: 10  it says that such a person makes God a liar,  because he does not believe the gospel record that God gave of his Son. That record is quite clear.


When Mary asked how this could happen as she was a virgin,  the angel replied in Luke 135  "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will overshadow you,  so the Holy one to be born,  shall be called the Son of God. '  He who does not believe that record makes God a liar,  These are plain and blunt words in scripture,  because God's whole plan of salvation is affected if the virgin birth was not a fact.



Why Question the Virgin Birth?



Why is scripture so outspoked about the necessiy of the birgin birth?  Only the God-man could be a sufficient payment for sin,  or substitute for sinners like you and me - we who have done wrong in God's sight.  It was essential for your salvation and mine.  That is why the angel told Joseph to name him Jesus, which means Saviour,  because he will save the people from their sins. (Mat 1 21)  The cross and the virgin birth are immediately tied together here.  One cannot be effective without the other.  The real reason why some question the virgin birth, is because they do not believe in miracles.  The Lord said " Bewhere of the yeast of deception of the Sadducees."    He warned us that unbelief would come into the church later.  


Now we are clearly told in Acts 23:8 what kind of unbelief this is:  The Sadducean religion did not believe in miracles,  or the  resurection or angels and we know they did not believe all the Old Testament.  That is certainly with us today,  and the scriptures say it is one of the signs of Christ's near return.



How did God create a Virgin Birth?


Have you ever asked how God could create a virgin birth?  It is amazing how some cannot believe God did something remarkable unless they know how he did it.  Will it help if I tell you how I think God did it?  I will try to take some clues from scripture.


We have seen from the bible that God created by words.  The secret of creation is in a language God used.  'God spoke and it was done'  Science has discovered that every living thing on Earth is created and recreated by a language.  Life is language say the scientists.  It is called the DNA Code.  The bible agrees and says that life resulted from language.  'God said let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures'  'God said let us make Man in our image'  God upholds all things from His powerful words.


If I speak into a microphone,  it can be recorded on oxidised tape.  Have you ever recorded your thoughts and instructions on a tape recorder?  Have you played it back to yourself to make sure it has been recorded?  You find that you can play back your message time and time again.  


In your body cells there is a tape upon which God has recorded his message.  This message is played back every time a new life is created,  because its  instructions are obeyed to the last letter.  Have you either added or altered part of your message?  As you know,  you can do so.  Now I suggest that God dictated fresh instructions onto His tape recorder,  which scientist call the DNA Code or the message of life.  He dictated it  by the voice of the Holy Spirit onto the recording tape of the cell of the blessed virgin Mary.  We tread on holy ground here;  I say this reverently.


Yoy now know that the DNA tape consists of two ribbons.  of instructions which twist around each other in helical fashion,  like a spiral staircase.  I see no difficulty in one of those tapes being left with the Virgin Mary's characteristics of mankind still recorded and the other one being recorded with the character of God by the Holy Spirit. This is similar to recording a new message on the tape of your recorder.



Combining the Human and the Divine


I know I have over-simplified this,  but it is an attempt to illustrate how the voice of the Holy Spirit could record the characteristics of God,  upon the DNA code in the Virgin Mary's cells.  This would combine te human and divine and produce the God-man whom we know as the Lord Jesus Christ.   But what about  Mans sinful nature?  Would that be handed on?  The scriptures tell us  'No'


The virgin birth was creation in reverse.  In the beginning God made a women from a man's cell;  at the virgin birth, God made a man from the cell of a women.


In the first case,  this would be by subtracting the 'Y'  chromosome,  which contains the male characteristics.  In the second case the Y chromosome would be added by the creating Holy Spirit..  Truly,  as Mary was told,  'With God,  all things are possible'.  And again  'That holy being,  which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.'.


This resulted in the manhood of Jesus becoming that of Adam's,  before he sinned.  Listen to Roman 5:12 onwards   'By one man Adam,  sin entered into the world.  (verse 15)  So by one man Jesus Christ,  life has abounded to many.'  This can be taken physically as well as spiritually.  And why was he named Jesus - Saviour?  Because only a righteous God-man could be offered as your subsitute on the cross.  For fuller details,  see the last chapter of my book   'Who was Adam?  But to conclude:  the scriptures persist that the Word which coded in the beginning became re-coded in the virgin Mary at the Incarnation by similar agencies as those at the beginning.


The prologue to the fourth gospel is a striking application of the phraseology of Genesis 1,  as we are able to reconsider it in light of our knowledge  of genetic coding.   "The Word"  of John 1,  known to the Greeks as the Logos,  is an application of the repeated expression of Genesis,  'God Said'    The passage is amongst the best known in the bible.:  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the word was God.  The  same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him,  And without him,  nothing was made   that was made."


The same 'Word' who Himself coded all life in the beginning,  graciously allowed Himself to become coded in the DNA of the Incarnation:  'And the Word became flesh,  and dwelt among us.... we beheld His glory,  the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,  full of grace and truth.."


Modern genetics reveals that the pairs of genes (alleles) from both parents make one person at conception.  The statement  'That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit',  shows how God was the Father and the virgin mary the mother.  Also the fact that the DNA is a code demonstrates now the 'Word' of God,  recorded upon the nucleic acids,  would form the real genetic contribution from the Divine side.


We see now that Christ was fully and truly man,  and yet,  not two natures,  but God-man,  not God and Man,  thus illustrating physically what had been arrived at theologically by earlier divines.  Yet ultimately our only authoritative source for the doctrine for the Incarnation is the revelation of God in Holy Scripture.


-the end-




Wow,  that was truly  amazing.  I  can't wait to read Dr E.K. Victor Pearce's book

'Who was Adam?'


Be sure to keep visiting and we'll have more details on it within the next few of days.





** If you have been blessed and challenged in your own faith,  do let us know.  You might perhaps consider the possibility of a donation to the ministry of LIGHT INTERNATIONAL - The Global Review of Christianity too,  as we do not charge to read editorial on-line here..  We would be honestly hugely grateful!


God Bless


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