God with Us
I love hearing the name Immanuel.
Isaiah had predicted that the name would be used for our Lord centuries before Jesus’ birth. I remember the first time I studied the name in detail in my first-year Hebrew classes. “Im” in Hebrew carries the meaning of our English “with.” “Annu” in Hebrew translates the plural “us.” Finally, you can see the Hebrew name for God in the word, “El.” Im-annu-el is literally, “with us, is, God” or better, “God with us!”
The name is especially endearing at Christmas. I don’t have to remind you how hectic this season can become. I’m told some retailers now hang their Christmas decorations before October 1!
Christmas is a unique, once-a-year event. I don’t believe we should celebrate Christmas just three months of the year, as the retailers would have us do. Matter of fact, Immanuel should be celebrated all year long. Our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, is with us on December 25. But He’s also with us on February 9, June 17, and September 21. He’s with us through all the pages of the calendar, through each day of our year, even through this very day.
Writing about the Incarnation in his wonderful book Immanuel: Experiencing Jesus as God and Man, my friend and mentor, Dr. John Witmer states:
No one ever has or ever will top the birth announcement of God the Father at the birth of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As soon as the angel’s announcement was given, “a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’” That was a birth announcement that will never be matched. It announced the birth of the eternal Son of God as a person joined forever with the human race as its Messiah, Savior, Ruler, and Judge.
So, as the hustle and hassle of this overscheduled season envelops you, take some time to pause and consider the name once again, as if hearing it for the first time—Immanuel: with us is God!
Then remind yourself that God is with us - today.