Emmanuel, God with Us
“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.” (Matthew 1:23)
I guess one of the most precious ideas from the Christmas story to me is that Jesus came to be Emmanuel -- God with us. Hagar said, “Thou God seest me,” and I know from the Bible that He sees me at every moment and knows everything about me, even the thoughts of my heart. The Lord said of Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD...” God knows me much better than I know myself, and still He loves me.
But in spite of all my flaws and imperfections, in spite of my sinfulness, weakness, and foolishness, the Lord still expresses a desire to be WITH me, wonder of wonders! There have been moments when I wasn’t too excited about being with me, but the eternal God of Heaven who is the same yesterday, today and forever, still had a desire to come to where I am, and be able to be my Emmanuel, God with ME.
From the beginning of time, God wanted to spend time together with mankind whom He had created in His own image. “ And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:..” (Genesis 3:8) It wasn’t long before sin severed that daily relationship and communion, and God could no longer be ‘God with us’ in the same way. Immediately, there was a plan in motion, that had been in the plan of God since before the foundation of the world, to pay the price of sin and restore fellowship between us again.
Ever since Genesis 3:15, the promise of a Saviour has been repeated to us over and over again, the Lamb of God Who would be slain for our sin. Prophecy became history at Christmas, when God the Son left the portals of glory to come to a sin-cursed earth and become sin for us, so that we could be righteous in God’s eyes. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21) The reason for Him coming as a Baby in a manger was so that He could one day be that Lamb, and shed His blood to reconcile us to Himself. “... Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
One of the most outstanding prophecies of His coming was this promise, that He would be ‘God with us.’ “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) Not just God in Heaven, but God right here with me. Not just an impersonal God who is removed and disinterested in the people that He created and redeemed, but a God who cares so much that He knows the very number of hairs upon the heads of each of His children. A God Who sees, Who knows, Who loves, Who cares, Who is with me all the time. Hebrews 13:5 promises this: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” I need never fear that I will face any day or circumstance of my life alone, because He has promised to be with me. What an unbelievable and precious truth, that God loves me, promises to be with me, and promises that He will never leave nor forsake me!
Throughout the Bible, God promised to be with His people. When Isaac faced a famine, God promised to be with him. “And there was a famine in the land ... And Isaac went ... unto Gerar. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee...” (Genesis 26:1-3) Again, when the inhabitants of that land fought Isaac over the ownership of his well, God commanded him to “Fear not” because of His promise to be with him. “And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24) Not only was Isaac assured of God’s presence, but it was evident to those who opposed him, as well. “And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee:...” (Genesis 26:28)
The same promise was given to Jacob, who made a vow to the Lord on the basis of God’s continued presence. “And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28:15) “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” (Genesis 28:20-22) God’s promised presence ought to motivate me to make and keep some vows of faithful service to the Lord, as well. When God’s leading directed Jacob to return to his homeland, it was again with this promise. “And the LORD said unto Jacob, Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” (Genesis 31:3)
It was repeated often of Joseph that the Lord was with him, though many of the events of Joseph’s life might have convinced us otherwise if we were simply looking on the outward circumstances. “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” (Genesis 39:2-3) Even after being betrayed by his brothers, lied about, falsely accused, and wrongfully imprisoned, the Bible declares that the Lord was with Joseph. “But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.... The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.” (Genesis 39:21-23)
Through the darkest times, God’s presence never left Joseph, and God turned the evil of others into good for His servant, at the same time turning perplexity into glory for Himself. “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50:20) God’s promised presence is obviously not a guarantee that things will always go the way we have planned, but it is a guarantee that He will work all things together for our good, according to His plan.
Indeed, when our spirit is so overwhelmed that our prayers become ‘groanings which cannot be uttered,’ even then, especially then, He is at work, and working all things together for good. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26-28)
Moses was given this promise when He was given the job of leading God’s chosen people out of Egypt. “And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” Moses was so aware and so dependent upon the presence of the Lord, that he refused the blessings God promised in Canaan unless he could enjoy God’s presence, too. “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” (Exodus 33:14) Near the end of his life, Moses reminded the children of Israel of God’s presence and blessing. “For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:7)
When Joshua was given the oversight and leadership of the people of God, he was given this promise, as well. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9) No matter how fearful the battle and the enemies appear to be, God’s presence is the guarantee of God’s deliverance. Many times I have claimed the statement that Caleb made in Joshua 14. “...if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able...” My victory and my usefulness to God is not based on my strength or ability, but on His presence and blessing.
It was said of Gideon, of Samuel, of David, and others that “...the LORD is with him.” So much of the Old Testament ceremonial law, offerings, even the Tabernacle and all that it contained, were to point out Christ’s atonement for our sin and our opportunity to fellowship and commune with Him and have a daily fellowship, because He longs to be Emmanuel -- God with us.
Some of the most precious promises that we claim in times of need and distress are those that promise the Lord will be with us. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” (Psalm 91:15) “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Since Jesus came to be Emmanuel, a very personal Saviour who wants to have a personal relationship with me, I can depend upon His presence and power. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)
The Lord Jesus Christ is still Emmanuel to us today. He invites us into His very presence, to spend time with Him in close communion, to bring Him every request and need. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) He does not discourage us from calling out to Him when trouble comes, but invites us to, and promises His deliverance. “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15) Psalm 46:1 says He’s not just present during troublesome times, but VERY present. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Have entire days gone by when we’ve failed to acknowledge His blessed presence and spend time in communion with Him through prayer? Have we failed to realize the priceless value of the Word of God we hold in our hands, and left it unopened and unread for days on end?
If so, we are neglecting one of the most important Christmas gifts we have ever received --- the constant promised presence of Jesus Christ, our PERSONAL Saviour. What better time than Christmas to express our gratitude to Him for all that He has done and continues to do in our lives? What better time than the celebration of His birth to renew and revive our daily relationship and constant communion with Him Who came to earth at Christmas for this purpose -- so that He could be Emmanuel, God with us
The Most Valuable Christmas Gift Has Been Purchased For You
#1 On our own, we are guilty of sin and have no hope of Heaven. Romans 3:10, 23 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
#2 Our sin-debt must be paid, and death is the price. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Revelation 21:8 “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
#3 We May pay Sin’s Price Ourselves through eternal, spiritual death in hell, or accept the payment made by the Son of God on Calvary’s cross, where He paid the price of death in our place. The Gospel equals the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, which is the power of God unto salvation. John 3:16 is God’s Christmas Gift to all the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
#4 The choice is left with us whether we will receive or reject the Gift that God gives to us. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
#5 All the work has been done, and the Price Paid for us by Christ. Our part is simply to receive Him. John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him...” Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Have You Received God’s Christmas Gift To You?
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:15)