We’ve been looking at the names of God and how his names help us understand him better. This week I want to look at the name, ‘Immanuel’.
After Joseph discovered his fiancé Mary was pregnant, he wanted to divorce her. But the Bible tells us that ‘an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill 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.” When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus’ (Matthew 1:20-25).
We see that the angel told Joseph that one of the names for God’s Son would be Immanuel. Which, when translated from Hebrew to English, means ‘God with us’. And this name, Immanuel, was to fulfil an old prophecy from Isaiah: ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).
But what does it mean that Jesus is called ‘God with us’. At a minimum, it means that the person Jesus Christ was truly God.
Jesus affirms this truth when he says ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30) and ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9). The Apostle Paul also says about Jesus: ‘He is the image of the invisible God’ (Colossians 1:15) And the author of Hebrews says ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word’ (Hebrews 1:3).
So the name Immanuel tells us that when people are in the presence of Christ, they are in the presence of God.
Knowing that Jesus is Immanuel is helpful for us when we consider that Jesus promises to live in those who believe in him. Paul says: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).
As believers, we live continually in the presence of God. Not just in his presence because he is omnipresent, but also in his special presence because he lives in us and with us.
So the truth that God is Immanuel should give us joy. Wherever we go, whatever we do, God is with us. God is right there sharing our labours, rejoicing in our joys, sorrowing in our sorrows.
The truth that God is Immanuel should also give us a holy fear when tempted to sin. We never sin in private, although we often live under the delusion that we can. If we are God’s people, he lives with us and is grieving in us as we fall into temptation. So knowledge that God is Immanuel should help us to resist the sin that damages our souls.
So do you believe in God and know and rejoice that he is Immanuel, God with us? Joel Radford.