7 SUPERNATURAL SONS
The Bible teaches that mankind began
when God created Adam's body out of the dust of the earth. Then
God breathed into the lifeless form, and Adam came to life. God's
Spirit imparted life.
The Hebrew word for breath is ruakh, which is also translated as wind or spirit. Genesis 1:2 says, "Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." B'reshit Rabbah (2:4), the ancient rabbinic commentary on Genesis, says, "AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD HOVERED: this alludes to the spirit of Messiah, as you read, And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (Isa. 11:2)." God's life-giving Spirit will be upon Messiah.
God created Eve out of Adam. He supernaturally caused them, and thereby all people, to exist. He gave them life by His Spirit. How did He do that? We are not told.
He made their physical nature such that they could come together and produce children. The biological story of procreation is well known. It is not, however, sufficient to only explain how a new life is formed from the combination of male sperm with a female egg. Why does that form a new life? Because God designed man and woman that way and made it possible. It is an amazing miracle, nonetheless so just because it has happened billions of times.
Throughout the Bible, there are also cases where God supernaturally implants life in the womb of a woman who is not physically able to conceive and give birth. How does He do that? How does He cause life to come into existence over and above the "normal" physical way which He designed? By His Spirit.
In Tanakh, we are told that God caused six different Jewish boys to be miraculously conceived when their mothers were not physically able to conceive. Then there is a seventh Jewish boy whose story is more miraculous than all the others. In fact, his story is told in the lives of the other six.
This is one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. It is not a story that is told, as most are, with one line following another from start to finish. It is one that only God could tell. It is woven in and out of the Bible through thousands of years of human history.
For us, the story begins with the birth of Isaac. "Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised, so Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of the son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son, Isaac, when he was eight days old as God had commanded him." (Gen.21:1-4)
Now Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. "And Sarah said, 'God has made laughter for me. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.' And she said to Abraham, 'Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children, yet I have born him a son in his old age.' " (Gen.21:16-17) Sarah said, "Who would have said that Sarah would nurse children." Who would have believed it?
It was very hard to believe. Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. We read that it had ceased to be with Sarah any longer after the manner of women. (Gen.18:16-11) She was past menopause. Physically she was not able to conceive children.
The biological facts are simple. A human child is formed from the combination of the male sperm and the female egg. After menopause, a woman's body no longer contains any eggs. Conception is then no longer possible. How did God enable Sarah to conceive when it was not physically possible? The Bible does not tell us how God did it. It only tells us that He did do it.
In B'reshit Rabbah, Rabbi Judah, son of Rabbi Simon, said, "He, God, in His glory made her conceive. Hence, 'and the Lord remembered Sarah.'" (Gen. Rab. 53:6) God supernaturally touched her and caused her to conceive. Her son, Isaac, is the first of the six supernaturally conceived Jewish boys.
The second was Jacob. "And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord let Himself be entreated of him, and Rebecca, his wife, conceived." (Gen.25:21) Rabbi Joseph Hertz, in his notes in the Chumash, commented, "She was barren, like Sarah before her and Rachel after her. This sterility may have been intended to emphasize that the children who were eventually born were a gift of the grace of God, the fulfillment of His purpose."1
God had a purpose which He was going to fulfill, regardless of the physical circumstances. No matter how physically impossible conception was, God was not limited by the physical. He is, after all, the God who created the physical world. He is a supernatural God, a God of the miraculous. It is only because God is able to cause supernatural conception that Isaac and Jacob, and therefore all Israel, came into existence.
Next we read about Joseph, the third of these Jewish sons. His mother, Rachel, "saw that she bore Jacob no children, and she envied her sister and said unto Jacob, 'Give me children, or else I die.' And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, 'Am I in the place of God who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?' " (Gen.30:1-2)
Rachel was not able to bear children. She was frustrated. She was angry at her husband, but there was nothing that he could do about it. Jacob knew that there was only One who could help. "And God remembered Rachel, and God harkened to her and opened her womb, and she conceived and bore a son and said, 'God has taken away my reproach.' And she called his name Joseph..." (Gen.30:22-24) God had touched her and enabled her to conceive.
The next boy in the Bible to be supernaturally conceived was Samson. "There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites whose name was Manoah, and his wife was barren and had borne no children. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, now you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.' " (Jud.13:2-3) Like Sarah, Rachel, and Rebecca before her, she was barren. She had borne no children, and was not able to conceive. But God sent an angel to tell her, "You shall bear a son." God had a purpose to fulfill. And so a barren woman conceived and gave birth to Samson.
The fifth in this series of sons in Israel who were miraculously conceived was Samuel. Elkanah loved his wife Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. "And she made a vow and said, 'O Lord of Hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, and will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and the razor shall never come on his head." (1Sam.1:11) God harkened unto her prayer, and she conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel God hears.
The sixth son that we read about in the Bible who was miraculously conceived is the son of a Shunamite woman. This was a woman who was gracious to the prophet Elisha. She saw him passing by every so often, and she wanted to prepare a place for him. With her husband, she prepared a room for the prophet where he could be at home, rest, eat, pray, whatever he had to do.
In response to her hospitality, Elisha wanted to do something wonderful for her. He asked her if there was something he might do for her, but she replied, "No." However, Elisha's servant told him that the woman was childless. So Elisha spoke to her and promised, " 'At this season next year you shall embrace a son.' And she said, 'No, my lord, O man of God, do not lie to your maidservant.' " (2Kings 4:16) Because the woman was barren and her husband was old, she knew that it was not possible for her to bear a son. But God is not limited by what is possible. "And the woman conceived and bore a son at that season next year, as Elisha had said to her." (2Kings 4:17)
We read of these six sons miraculously conceived and born. Physical laws were suspended as their mothers were touched by the power of God. We also read that there is a seventh son to come.
This seventh supernaturally conceived son is special, even as the seventh day, the day that God set apart for Himself is special. God made all the other days as well, but the seventh day He hallowed and sanctified. It was a day that belonged to Him. So it is with this seventh son who was to be miraculously conceived. He is hallowed and sanctified, set apart for God Himself.
In D'varim Rabbah (1:20), the ancient rabbinic commentary on Deuteronomy, the Rabbis say that Jacob said to Esau, "I have still to bring forth the King Messiah, as it is written, 'Unto us a child is born.' " They were referring to Isaiah 9:5 (9:6 in non-Jewish translations), which says: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Indeed, this is a very special child. He has very unusual names "Mighty God, Everlasting Father." In Is.7:14, we are told that this child will be called "God with us." So when we come to look at this seventh son who is to be supernaturally conceived, we know that in every way his conception, birth, and life he is to be greater, more supernatural, more miraculous than all the others. In the most fascinating way, God has told us his story in the lives of the six others.
As we look at the lives of the other six again who they were, and what happened in them we will discover the portrait of the seventh. It is fitting that the story of Messiah, the King of the Jews, be told in the history of his people.
There is Isaac. who was promised by God and named by God. He was the first one to be circumcised eight days after birth, the first one to enter the covenant from birth. In the sight of God, he was the only son, whom his father loved.
And God said, "Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and offer him as a sacrifice on a mountain in the land of Moriah." (Gen.22:2) So Isaac was taken, led by his father. He walked up the mountain of Moriah with the wood on which he was to be sacrificed on his back. In rabbinic literature, in the Day of Atonement liturgy, the Rabbis appeal to God as though Isaac actually had been offered, and his ashes serve as atonement for the children of Israel. The Rabbis hope that there is forgiveness for Israel in the akedah, the binding of Isaac.
Then there is Jacob. The people of God and God himself are called by his name. God is called the God of Jacob, the Holy One of Jacob, the portion of Jacob, the Mighty One of Jacob. God called Jacob "Israel," a prince with God. Then God called Himself the Mighty One of Israel, the God for Israel, God to Israel, God over Israel, God in Israel, the Holy One of Israel, and hundreds of times in the Bible God is called simply the God of Israel. God calls Himself by the name of this man. The people of God are called Israelites after Jacob, whom God named Israel.
Joseph was chosen by God to be exalted. God spoke to him in dreams. The first dream that God gave him was one in which Joseph saw himself and his brothers in the field at the time of harvest gathering sheaves. His sheaf stood up and all the others came and bowed down to him. His brothers were very angry with him. How could he say that they would and should come and bow down to him? "Are you actually going to reign over us, or are you really going to rule over us?" (Gen.37:5)
He had another dream. His brothers became angrier and hated him more when he told them this dream. He said, "I had a dream, and the sun and the moon and eleven stars came and bowed down to me." Even Joseph's father, Jacob, came and said to him, "Indeed, shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come and bow down before you to the ground?" (Gen.37:9-10) We read that Jacob, Israel, loved Joseph more than all his other sons, but he couldn't understand how such a thing could be. In fact, it was his father's great love for Joseph, together with these dreams that God had given him, that caused his brethren to be jealous of Joseph, to despise him, and to plot to put him to death.
They sold him for a price instead, and he was taken off as a slave by some Gentiles down into Egypt. He went farther down. Not for his own sin, but for the sin of an adulterous woman, he was put in prison. But there God was with him, and God raised him up and up until, when his brothers came down to Egypt, he was in charge of all of Egypt, second only to Pharoah himself.
His brothers came down to Egypt because there was a famine in the land. They were hungry, and their very lives depended on going down to Egypt where they found Joseph, the only one in the whole region who had food to keep them alive. They didn't recognize him the first time they came, although Joseph knew them all the time. But they came again a second time, and the second time he revealed himself to them.
The ancient rabbis remarked on the same pattern in the life of Moses. "Like the first redeemer so will the final redeemer be. The first redeemer was Moses, who appeared to them and then disappeared.... The final redeemer [Messiah] will also appear to them and then disappear." (Num. Rab.11:2)
When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers on their second coming, they knew he had the power of life and death in his hands. They didn't know how he would treat them, and feared because of how they had treated him. But he had forgiven them because of his love for them. He revealed himself as their savior, but not their savior only. He was also the savior of the Egyptians and all the nations round about, because the famine was severe throughout the whole area. Joseph was the savior of Israel and of the Gentiles as well.
Next we read about Samson. The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman, his mother. We read that Samson was a Nazarite, consecrated to the Lord from the womb. He was anointed to judge Israel and to deliver Israel from the oppressor. The Philistines were in the land, oppressing Israel. Samson was raised up by God to deliver Israel. But Samson was rejected by his brethren, bound by them, and turned over to the Philistines to be put to death. He broke those bonds and set himself free when the Spirit of God came upon him. But eventually Samson was taken again when he was betrayed by Delilah, his intimate companion.
Then one day the Philistines brought Samson out to amuse themselves. Samson prayed, "God, give me one more opportunity to avenge myself on these Philistines." He was taken and placed between the pillars of the temple. The lords of the Philistines, his enemies, were seated above and beneath. He pushed and brought the temple down, destroying all the Philistines, and himself as well.
He willingly gave his life to destroy the power of the enemy. In his death he killed more than in his life. It was God's way of bringing judgment on the Philistines.
Next is Samuel, the prophet and judge, who also was consecrated to the Lord all the days of his life. Towards the end of the life of Samuel, the children of Israel came to him. And they said, "Give us a king to rule over us, so that we might be like all the other nations." (1Sam.8:5) Samuel said, "Don't do this thing. Don't sin against the Lord. You have the Lord as King over you." But the people would not listen to Samuel, and they demanded a king. God spoke to Samuel and said, "This day they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being King over them." (1Sam.8:7) Although God gave Israel a king, His original and continual purpose was that He alone should be king over Israel.
The sixth son supernaturally conceived was the son of the Shunamite woman. When he was a young boy, he went out into the field where his father was working. Suddenly he cried, "My head, my head," and fell down. He was taken up and carried off to his mother. She laid him on her lap, and there he died. She took him up and laid him on the bed in Elisha's room. Then she went to search for the prophet.
When she found him, the one who had promised her a son, she said, "Didn't I tell you not to lie to me?" When Elisha came into the woman's house, the boy was lying dead on his bed. Elisha shut the door and prayed. The Lord raised the boy from the dead. We don't know the name of the son of the Shunamite woman. His name is not known in Israel. It is not revealed, but he was raised from the dead.
The lives of these six who were miraculously conceived through the power of God are fascinating, but the story told by their six lives together is even more fascinating, more supernatural. Their lives tell the story of the seventh, who is Messiah, the King.
Messiah is promised by God, even as Isaac was promised. He is promised by the prophets, even as the son of the Shunamite woman was promised by Elisha. The Talmud says that all the prophets prophesied not, except of the days of Messiah. Messiah is central. He is the key to understanding God's plan for Israel and for all the world. The Bible is his story. Messiah is the summation of all.
Even as an angel appeared to the mother of Samson, we read in the gospel of Luke that God sent the angel Gabriel to a young Jewish maiden, an almah, engaged to a man, and the angel said to her, "'Do not be afraid Miriam, for you have found favor with God and behold, you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Yeshua. And he shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David. And he shall rule over the House of Jacob forever. And his kingdom shall have no end.'
"And Miriam said to the angel, 'How can this be since I am a virgin?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The holy spirit will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:30-35)
It was going to be a miracle, but God is the God of miracles. As we read in the prophet Isaiah, "Behold, the Lord Himself will give you a sign a supernatural occurrence the virgin will conceive and bring forth a son." It is a miraculous sign from God Himself. Who else but God could cause it to happen? Even as Jacob responded to Rachel, "Am I in the place of God who has withheld children from you?" God alone is able to cause a woman to conceive when she is not physically able to do so.
The supernatural births of the six point to the supernatural birth of the seventh. Isaac was the first one to enter God's Covenant with Abraham, the covenant of circumcision, from birth. To enter into God's promised New Covenant with the House of Judah and the House of Israel, it is necessary to be born of the Spirit. Yeshua the Messiah is the first one born of the Spirit.
Messiah was consecrated to God from the womb like Samson and Samuel. Samson was a Nazarite; Yeshua is, of course, the Nazarene. He lived a life of perfect obedience and consecration to God. He was anointed and appointed even as Samson was, to be a judge and a deliverer for Israel. Yeshua came to deliver Israel from the oppressor, and yet he was despised and rejected by his brethren-but not all of his brethren. In the case of Joseph, his full brother Benjamin did not reject him, but only his other brothers. In the same way there were Jews who did not reject Yeshua. They believed in him.
As with Joseph, Yeshua was sold for a price, thirty pieces of silver. He was betrayed by an intimate associate, Judas, even as Samson was betrayed by Delilah. Like Samson, Yeshua was bound by his brethren and turned over to the Gentiles to be put to death. They put the wood on his back, and Yeshua went up one of the mountains of Moriah, carrying that wood on which He was to be sacrificed, just as Isaac had done before. As God said of Isaac "Your only son, whom you love" so He said of Yeshua, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
Yeshua went up, led by his Father, to make atonement for Israel, to bring forgiveness to all the world. Many in Israel believed in him, but the nation as a whole, even as on that day before Samuel, rejected the Lord from being king over them.
Pilate said to the religious leaders, "Behold, your king." " 'Shall I crucify your king?'
" 'We have no king but Caesar,' the chief priests responded." (John 19:14-15)
He was put to death underneath the inscription, "This is Yeshua of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." That was his crime in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek for all the world to know.
"Whoever makes himself out to be a king is an enemy of Caesar," they told Pilate. (John 19:12) So he was put to death, and his jealous brethren led Israel to believe "He's dead, and that's the last we will hear of him." Joseph's brethren brought the same news to Israel, their father.
Like Samson, Yeshua the Messiah accomplished more in his death than in his life. As wonderful as his life was, as powerful as it was he healed the sick, he raised the dead, he opened the eyes of the blind, he glorified God in all that he did in his death he accomplished more. In his death he broke the bonds, the chains, even as Samson did, and he willingly died to destroy the power of the enemy, and to set free all those who are enslaved to the power of sin and the power of death.
He paid the penalty that God's righteousness requires of every sinner. "The soul that sins shall die." (Ezek.18:4) He had no sins of his own, and so he went as a willing, voluntary sacrifice for the sins of others. He said, "No one takes my life from me. I lay it down. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again." (John 10:17-18)
He went willingly so that whoever believes in him, whoever lays their hands upon him, even as one had to lay his hands upon a sacrifice in the Levitical system, places their sins upon him. Isaac was not actually offered to atone for the sins of Israel, but Yeshua was. In his death he broke the bonds and set the captive free, by the power of God, by the Spirit of the Lord.
By that same Spirit he rose from the dead. Just as the son of the Shunamite woman was raised from the dead by the power of God, so Yeshua the Messiah was raised from the dead.
For most in Israel, his name is not known, like that of the Shunamite's son. It is not even mentioned. "Let's talk about anyone, but not him, not the Nazarene." But though there are those who refuse to mention his name, there has always been a faithful Jewish remnant who believed in Yeshua, King of the Jews. Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be called "Mighty God," and he prophesied that, "A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God." (Is. 10:21)
All the early believers were Jewish. They found it hard to believe that someone who wasn't Jewish could believe in Yeshua. They were called by his name. They were talmidei Yeshua, disciples of Yeshua. As it is with Jacob, who is called Israel, so it is with Yeshua, "who is called Christos," the Messiah. All his followers are called by his name.
As with Jacob, so with Yeshua. God delights to be called by his name as well. The God of Jacob, the God of Israel, the God of Messiah Yeshua, the God who raised him from the dead.
Like Joseph, he will be revealed to all of his brethren, but not the first time, not at the first coming. But with his second coming, he will be revealed to all his brethren. When he returns, the Lord says, "I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They shall look upon Me the one whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Me as one mourns for an only son." (Zech.12:10) The ancient Rabbis recognized this as referring to Messiah. (cf. Suk.52a)
As it was with Joseph's brethren in their greatest need, in their hunger, they went down to Egypt in the famine and were saved by Joseph there so it will be with the Jewish brethren of Yeshua who don't yet know him. In their hunger and their greatest need they will cry out to God, and will see Yeshua revealed as their savior. He is not their savior only, but the savior of the Gentiles as well, even as Joseph also was.
When this age is over, the story will still not be finished. There are the dreams of Joseph. When God reaps the earth, when God brings in the final harvest, the sheaf of Yeshua the Messiah, will stand up, and all the others will bow down before it. He will be exalted. His name will be exalted high above every other name. Even the sun and the moon and the stars will come and bow down. The Midrash Tanchuma (on Is.52:13) says that Messiah is "more exalted than Abraham, more extolled than Moses, higher than the archangels."
Jacob said to Joseph, "Shall I and your mother come and bow down to you?" But Joseph's mother was dead. She could not in that life come and bow down to him. The dream referred to the age to come.
In the life to come, in the resurrection, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Yeshua is Lord. His is a story that is woven throughout history and throughout the pages of the Bible. It continues today after thousands of years, because even today there are people who are coming to know and receive the life of Yeshua the Messiah. They are also miraculously, supernaturally born of that same Spirit.
Some people don't believe that God can do anything supernatural. That's the same as saying there is no God. The Creator is greater than His creation.
God created the universe out of nothing. All things, including you, exist because God is. Nothing is impossible for God.
If you let Him, God will continue this divine story in your life.
1. The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, ed. by J.H. Hertz, Soncino Press, London, 1956, P.93
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