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W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health 11-24-2021

Read:  Matthew 1:22-23   22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Soon we will sing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”; amen!  The word “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel” occurs in the Bible three times:  twice in the Old Testament book of Isaiah and once in the New Testament book of Matthew.  Immanuel and Emmanuel are the same word:  Immanuel is the transliteration of the Hebrew language into English, and Emmanuel is the transliteration of the Greek language into English.

In the Old Testament “Immanuel” occurs in Isaiah 7:14 and 8:8. It is part of an ancient prophecy 700 years before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.  It is not clear in Isaiah that the prophecy has a duel meaning.  There’s the original prophetic reference in 7:14 with the apparent fulfillment of that prophecy in ch.8..  And there’s a hidden prophecy-within-the-prophecy of Isaiah, that pertained to the Messiah.

In the New Testament Matthew’s gospel tells us that the ancient prophecy of Isaiah regarding “Immanuel” ALSO pertains to the birth of Jesus.  Matthew tells us that “Immanuel” means “God with us”.  It isn’t so much a proper name as it is a title, like “king of the hill”.  So when Joseph and Mary’s firstborn son was born He wasn’t named “Immanuel”, but that is who He was prophesied to be, “God with us”.

There is a mysterious quality about the life of Christ.  John 3:16 famously begins, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, …” (NRSV) or as the NIV translation of the Bible says, “one and only Son”.  Jesus was/is unique, and His role was/is unique, and as such we have no comparisons.  “God with us” that’s Who I understand Jesus to be.  At the crux of the issue is Jesus’ divinity.  There are people who respect Jesus, consider Him to have been a great prophet or great teacher, even the greatest man who ever lived, but not, “God with us”, not divine.

To be sure the life and person of Jesus is mysterious, and there are things about Him that we do not understand – that’s ok.  I can’t explain how God became a baby, and still remained All powerful, All knowing, and All present, but I do believe it, and I hope that you know Him too in the fullness of His wonder and majesty.

Shalom,

Pastor Rob Nystrom