“They will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
If God’s justice and mercy are symbolised by Isaiah’s two children, the promise of God’s constant presence is developed further in the name Immanuel which means “God with us.” The Gospel writer Matthew, who was addressing primarily a Jewish audience, referred to this prophecy over 700 years later in regard to the birth of Jesus:
“All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us,” (Matthew 1:22-23.
The word Immanuel appears only three times in the Bible: Isaiah 7:14, 8:8, and Matthew 1:23. But before his ascension to heaven, Jesus made this promise to his followers: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). The promise is repeated in the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 21:3: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”
Before Jesus returned to heaven, he told his followers that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, would dwell with them: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you forever.“ (John 14:16).
Lord, I see that something was initiated at Christmas that was planned long before and was intended for all time. Thank you Lord, that you are always Immanuel, that you are always close by.
I was once reading F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s fine story, This Side of Paradise when this sentence slipped quietly into my brain forever:
“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.”
Now I know he’s talking about human love, which is a wonderful thing, sure, but the Immanuel promise is of an intimacy with your God, with your true spiritual self, from which, once you open the door, you never recover.
With you forever.