Immanuel - God With Us

INTRODUCTION: The term represented by the English word Immanuel in the translated prophecy of Isaiah is a compound word in Hebrew, and it is carried into the New Testament in Matthew by reference to that prophecy. The Greek term is derived from Hebrew, and in that Matthew passage, the inspired author provides the definition of the Hebrew term for the Greek reader. The English changes only the first letter in the spelling. This is one of those unique terms of scripture both because of its sparing use, and because of its abundant meaning. I chose this term for this months MPN though many have written and spoken of it. It is such a rich term, that it maintains strong appeal to me even when it is revisited and reviewed.

NOTE: Bible passages are taken from the 1769 KJV.


A - GOD WITH US: PROPHECY AND FULFILLMENT

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

Matthew 1:22-23 "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us."

COMMENTS: The above wording from Isaiah in the English translation, "Lord himself" is similar to the wording from the Genesis passage below which shows a "type" of Christ, and that SIMILARITY OF WORDING provides a bridge to carry our thoughts to the reason that God would be "with us" in the person of Christ Jesus. It should also be noted that the text says "spoken of the Lord by the prophet", underscoring that the Lord had spoken through the prophet, not that the prophet had spoken on his own.


B - BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD

Genesis 22:8 "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."

Isaiah 53:7 "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."

John 1:29 "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."

COMMENTS: The Lord began in THOSE ancient times with the special line of descent through Abraham, that he would develop to assure blessing for all mankind. The Lord presented a picture with Abraham and Isaac that he was providing the substitutionary means of satisfying God, and that man was not providing from his own resources. In a chapter of Isaiah's writing centuries later, the prophetic simile of the lamb is given about our Lord Jesus, which shows a progression from the unique child to the unique man, Christ Jesus, who would give himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. John the baptist made a pronouncement as Jesus approached for the baptism which would begin his public ministry, and through those words John proclaimed the sacrificial purpose of Jesus, further confirming Isaiah's prophecy and the symbolism of Abraham and Isaac on the mount in Moriah.


C - GOD BECAME MAN AND DWELT AMONG US

John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

1John 5:20 "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."

COMMENTS: John has a distinctive presentation in his writing style, both in his gospel account, and in his letters. In the verse above from his gospel, he states the conceptof Emmanuel in a style which emphasizes the God nature of the God-man. In his epistle, John concentrates on the security of Emmanuel, that we, who believe and receive, know him, and we are in him. How precious to contemplate that he will not say to us "away from me, I never knew you." The gift of eternal life isn't eternal if it can in any way cease, so John reminds us that we are in the one who is god, and is himself, eternal life.


D - EPILOGUE

I could not leave this topic without including the last of only three occurrences of the term Emmanuel. At first glance the verse may not seem directly linked to the other two, but I believe it represents two things to us:
1) our eternal God is not bound by historical sequence, therefore the faith which saves us today is the same faith which saved Abraham, and Abel, CENTURIES BEFORE, even though they preceded the historical appearing of the Christ; and
2) those who do not have a saving faith in the true and living God will be swept away into the second death through God's justice, while we who believe, flee to the refuge in the righteousness of our Emmanuel with great joy and praise for his mercy to us!

Isaiah 8:5-8 "The LORD spake also unto me again, saying, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son; Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, [even] the king of Assyria, and all his glory: and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks: 8 And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach [even] to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel."

--- Reflections in prayer ---

O Lord, what a wondrous thought that you would unite with your creation which bears your image, so that you would then bear the image of man to become the last Adam. You then lived a sinless life so that you could die for atonement in my place, and not for me alone, but for all who would receive your gift so there might be many brethren. As you had spoken all of creation into existence, so also have you spoken that the Word would become flesh and dwell among us, with unimaginable glory, and full of grace and truth. As our unchangeable God, you provided a covering in the garden after Adam's transgression, then a substitutionary sacrifice to Abraham for Isaac, and then once for all, the lamb which takes away the sin of the world. The centuries of established repetition of the temple sacrificial system through your nation Israel, properly MADE preparation for your arrival in the fullness of time, to confirm that it is your plan carried out for our redemption, not the works of man to gain your favor.

I echo the words recorded by Luke as spoken by the angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." What greater peace could we have than to know that we have eternal life in our creator God through Christ Jesus. Please guide me Lord in the path you have set for me to tell others of this great good news, as did the shepherds in their given role. Those who die in their sin of rejection will not see life: but I must remember that this fallen world is a very temporary place and not the place you have gone ahead to prepare. If there be any way for me to be used of you, to work in concert with your Spirit for the salvation of even one, may it be so.

Published 31 May 2004, first issued 26 December 2000