Of the many names of God given in the Bible, one of my favorites is Emmanuel. We hear it often around Christmas as carols are sung and sermons are preached. Emmanuel is first mentioned in Scripture in Isaiah 7 as a prophecy of the coming Messiah.
We are told what it means in Matthew 1 when he tells us how the prophecy is about to be fulfilled through the lives of Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
“God with us.”
Beth Moore, renowned Bible study teacher and my personal favorite, interprets the Hebrew word Emmanuel as “the with us God.” And I l like the sound of it.
I remember the stories in the Bible, that God has always wanted a “with us” relationship.
After God delivered the Israelites from the land of Egypt and the controlling hand of the Pharaoh, they came to the mountain called Sinai. It was there that the Lord “came down” to the people, (Exodus 19). There was fire and smoke, and the mountain quaked. It was an awesome event, and the people trembled with fear.
On this day, God essentially told the people to stay away from the mountain as He gave the Ten Commandments to this shabby group of slaves that He chose to call “His people.” His law demonstrated His holiness, His otherness, and how we would never measure up.
A few of chapters later in Exodus, God gave Moses the instructions for the Tabernacle in the wilderness with this intriguing commentary:
“Let them build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them,” (25:8).
And I wonder why. Why then, and why now does this holy God want to be close to this pitiful mess of humanity? I can’t figure it out.
Yet the truth is written all through the Bible from Genesis, when God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden, to Revelations, where the tabernacle of God will forever be with men (21:3)
Amazing. The Master of all creation, the One who spoke all things into existence, the Word that was in the beginning, the Savior who was slain from the foundation of the world chooses to be involved with me.
Emmanuel. God with me. God with you. The “with us God.”
I let that sink in. I want this truth to be a reality in my life.
God wants me to know Him. He makes Himself known to me through the Bible, through nature, through other people. He makes Himself accessible to me. He invites me in to His presence, and it is all possible through His very own plan, His very own sacrifice, His very own Son, Jesus Christ.
It is my privilege to get acquainted with this amazing God.
Just the thought of it, God with us, brings comfort like a warm, fleece blanket on a cold night.
He came to us, and He came for us. Though we were without the knowledge of God, He came to rescue us. Like the prince on a white stead comes to rescue the damsel in distress. Like the Cavalry comes to bring relief to weary war-torn soldiers. He came for us.
But not on a strong mighty stallion or with guns and war machines. He came in infant dress, helpless and needing a young woman and her husband to care for Him.
What manner of God is this that makes Himself like me so that I can become like Him?
This year some of us are in a season of “without.” Without a job or good health. Without a place to live or enough money to pay the bills. Without those special relationships we long for. The spouse who died. The divorce that leaves a family torn asunder. The child longed for but not yet come to our home and heart. The family that moved away and will not be coming home for the holidays.
Sometimes the “withouts” in our lives force us to look to the “with us God” who has always been and will always be and is in our present moment of difficulty.
May the Emmanuel, the“with us God,” fill all the empty places and desires in our hearts and lives this day and in the days to come. For He alone has promised in Hebrews 13:5 (Amplified Bible),
“I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down, relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!”
While we sing, “O come, O come Emmanuel,” we must remember that He has come and that He initiates the invitation to be in relationship. He is the One who says, “Come.”
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him . . .”