One of my favorite Christmas Carols is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. This carol dates back to the eighth or ninth century but still speaks to us today. It expresses a longing God’s people have for the promised Messiah. We desire God’s presence in our lives and cultivate it through prayer, fasting, and Bible reading. We celebrate Christmas for two reasons. The birth of the Christ child lying in a manager and the Second Coming when He comes for His bride, the church. When the Old Testament prophets speak of Immanuel, it is spelled with an “I” because they wrote in Chaldean/Aramaic. The New Testament authors spelled it with an “E” because they wrote in Greek. In both cases, it means “God with us!”
A well-known verse promising the coming Messiah is Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, bear a son, and call his name Immanuel” (KJV). The back story is King Ahaz was approaching war with two nations and doubted God would bring Judah victory. He lacked the faith to believe that God would be with them, and he lacked a desire for God’s presence. Isaiah was sent to King Ahaz to tell him there would be a “sign” that God would be with His people. God desires to be with His people as much as we want to be with Him.
God with us, the sign of the virgin birth that Isaiah spoke of, has two essential truths: 1) God’s child will be much more powerful than all nations combined. 2) God is with us as we journey through this world, in the good times and in the bad.
Matthew reminds us of the sign in verses 1:23, “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.” (KJV)
Matthew links Jesus’ life with the fulfillment of the passage in Isaiah. The Christ Child came not only to be born and walk among His people but to die for their sins, make them righteous, and provide unlimited access to God. The idea of “God with us” is the personification of God’s promise to His people that have faith in Him. John declares it in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” (KJV) Make no mistake about it; God is with His people.
Reflecting on my life, I can see God has been with me through the good and bad times. His presence brings me joy, peace, and comfort. As I celebrate Christmas with my children and family this season, I intend to do it with joy, knowing that God has always been with me and always will be with me. It is why we celebrate Christmas, Emmanuel, and God with us in the form of a child that would become the Savior. Beloved, take comfort in knowing that God is with you, in the good times and in the bad.