. . . and shall call his name Immanuel.
Late in the life of Moses, the Hebrew people were being prepared by God to cross over into the Promised Land. They were being instructed that the LORD God would be at their head, and that the LORD God would do to the “nations” what he had already done to “the kings of the Amorites.” The conquest of the Promised Land would take quite a long time. This is because of the consistently wavering faith of the Hebrew people. God had promised them again and again that he would be with them. He had promised that they need not fear—God would never leave them or forsake them. Yet they, like so many of us, lost sight of both the power of God and the presence of God. As a result, life for them became far more difficult than it would otherwise have been. Is this not always the case when we set aside God’s guidance in our lives for the sake of our own? Isaiah prophesies that the Christ child would be called “Immanuel.” Most of us probably already know this, but “Immanuel” means “God with us.” When Jesus was born into this world, he was — and remains! — the very person and presence of God. John writes of this, referring to Jesus as “the Word,” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews confirms this, saying that Jesus was “the exact imprint of [God’s] nature.” Paul referred to Jesus as the “image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We serve a risen and glorified Savior who is truly “God with us.” Today we celebrate this, because in Christ, we experience the very presence of a gracious and merciful God.