Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). — Matthew 1:18-23
Emmanuel. God With us. When we think of the name Emmanuel, or the child who will be called Emmanuel, we often stop there. We think of Christmas. We think of Mary and Joseph with child, or the wise men, or the manger at the inn. But there is more to this name.
This little child splits history and emerges between the bookends of mankind. The first bookend being when He walked side by side with Adam in the garden and the last bookend when he walks side by side with us as King.
The name Emmanuel beckons us to think of these ages when God walks with men. Gabriel said to Joseph that men would call him by this name. Both as a recognition that God is with us through the child and also to awaken the desire for the garden. To remind us of the time when God did walk with mankind and that he will again.
Emmanuel reminds us of when the Lord was with Adam and brought the animals before him to see what he would name them. Or when God was with Adam and Eve in the garden after they had sinned. He was still Emmanuel. Even in their sin, God was with them.
Since the garden, we have seen fleeting glimpses of God walking with men. Starting with Adam and Eve and then Cain and Abel when they brought their offerings to the Lord. He was with them, the brothers who fought. Or Enoch, who walked with God until he was no more. Or even Noah, when mankind was almost snuffed out, God was with man. In this name, we see that God is with us, with mankind, since our first sin, since our first murder, and since our first flood.
But since Abraham mankind has been looking for when God would dwell with man again. In Hebrews 11, we see that Abraham was looking forward to the city whose designer and builder is God. He was looking for Emmanuel, the one who would come and walk with men again.
We see this again in Hebrews 11:13.
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. — Hebrews 11:13
The ancestors of faith realized that home was where Emmanuel was; that living in a place where God wasn't meant that we are exiles from the place where God is. Yet, they all looked forward to the time and place, the city, where God would again dwell with mankind.
Emmanuel beckons us to think of the scepter that will not depart from Judah, or the throne of David that will last forever, and the house that will be built in his name. The time when Emmanuel reigns.
Gabriel announces to Joseph that this Jesus, this child, the one born of a virgin, is the one who will be called Emmanuel. This child will be God with us. God will walk among men as a baby born in a manger who would then grow up to save mankind from their sins.
Gabriel then goes to Mary as recorded in Luke 1.
28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34 And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy--the Son of God. — Luke 1:28-35 ESV
Gabriel announces to Mary that this child is the son of David. He is the one who will reign forever. This child will be God with us, not only as a man born of a virgin but as a King forever. The forever king, the one who will dwell with and rule over men forever as the Son of God. The Emmanuel that will never leave. However, a time was prophesied when God would come and dwell with men for a short time and leave again until Israel cried out to the God of their ancestors.
In Hosea chapters 5 and 6 we see that God would come and then return to his place until Israel repents.
Hosea 5:14 says:
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue. 15 I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me. — Hosea 5:14-15
We see the coming of the Lord in these verses, that he would come to be with mankind, to discipline Israel and then to go away until they acknowledge their guilt.
But only when Israel acknowledges her guilt will Emmanuel return. When they say:
1 "Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. — Hosea 6:1
They will call for the Lord to restore and heal them. They will call for Emmanuel to live with them. According to Hosea 6:2 they will say:
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. — Hosea 6:2
Israel will call to Emmanuel so that they may live before him. They will call to the God who lives with men. They continue in Hosea 6:3 saying:
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his appearing is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." — Hosea 6:1-3
God will again come and live with men and be with us when Israel calls him home.
Again in Luke 19 we see the nobleman who goes away to receive royal power for himself and then return. Jesus' parable speaks of the time when at first he is with men as a Emmanuel and then will leave to receive power from his Father. In Psalm 2 we see the Father say to the Son:
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. — Psalm 2:8
In Luke 19, again we see Emmanual, when the nobleman returns to be with men but will slaughter all those who do not want him to rule over them.
There are some who recognized Emmanuel when he came as a child. Mary of Bethany poured out her dowry to anoint him, or Peter in Matthew 16 when he says to Jesus "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter saw the truth in the words that Gabriel spoke to Mary who first said her child will be holy, the Son of God. The two disciples recognized Emmanual on the road to Emmaus when they broke bread in their home. They realized that God had been with them. Their burning hearts testified to being in the presence of Emmanuel.
We see throughout scripture that God's desire is to be with men. Emmanuel beckons us to recall the times when God spoke to Israel and said that He will be their God and that they will be his people.
Not only will God dwell among men as Emmanuel, but He is not satisfied to simply dwell with and walk among men. Rather, his desire is for marriage. He is not satisfied to live with us, but died so he call marry us. Isaiah 62 exposes the desire of God for his people.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. — Isaiah 62:4-5
He is not content to be married and yet remain far off. He will draw near to all people who draw near to him. He is not the absentee husband who does not remain. He is the Emmanuel who is with us forever, the Eternal Emmanuel. Isaiah continues in verses 11-12.
11 Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, "Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him." 12 And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. — Isaiah 62:11-12
Not only will Emmanual come to dwell among us again but he is bringing both rewards and recompence, judgement and justice for those who do not want him to be Emmanuel, God with us.
Emmanuel is the bridegroom and he is coming. One day he will arrive and his name will be forever fulfilled into all eternity. He will never again strike and turn away.
Let us then embrace the name Emmanuel, not only as the child who came, but as the King who is coming to dwell forever with us.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Let us beckon to Emmanuel to come as the bridegroom and remain forever with us.