Emmanuel – God with Us
Introduction: Just over 2,000 years ago, Emmanuel, also called the Christ, changed the world. In that moment when God became flesh, humanity watched prophecies unfold as hope was born. Jesus, our Emmanuel, provided hope that sin and death wouldn’t always win and mankind wouldn’t always feel so painfully alone.
What Does Emmanuel Mean?
It’s a word written on countless Christmas cards throughout the centuries and sung in some of our most-loved carols. In Scripture, it first appears in Isaiah 7:14, which says, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will conceive, and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Emmanuel” (NIV).
The Lord Himself will do this, Scripture says. In other words, this act, which occurred in the birth of Christ, was God-ordained and God-accomplished. This points to grace, which comes not through human effort but rather through relying on God to do what we humans cannot. This was the reason Christ came. God gave us this child, named Emmanuel, which literally means, “with us is God,” or “God with us.”
: What Emmanuel Means For Us
In truth, God is and always has been with us. He is omnipresent, which means He is everywhere all the time. Speaking of God, the ancient psalmist David wrote, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10 NIV). And in Jeremiah 23:23-24, God said, “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the Lord, ‘and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the Lord” (NIV).
God has always been present, throughout the universe. But He’s been present with His people as well. This was what made Him so different from all the false gods the pagan nations worshiped. Through a select group of people, the Jews, He revealed Himself as I Am—a present, personable and knowable God—to all people, triggering within them a hunger for intimacy with their Creator.
He created mankind for relationship and throughout humanity has revealed, generation by generation, how we are to relate to Him. But we rebelled against Him again and again, and though He remained with us, in the sense that His presence fills all of reality, this wasn’t true in a relational sense. Our sin separated us from Him, and this drove God to action. Through a baby, Emmanuel, He drew us close despite our sin, in a way the ancient world never could’ve imagined.
Critical God with us Times in Scripture
The word theophany is a combination of two Greek words, meaning God and appearance.
A theophany is an appearance of God. More precisely, it is a visible display to human beings that expresses the presence and character of God. Examples include the thunderous display at the top of Mount Sinai (Ex. 19); the burning bush (Ex. 3); appearances to Abraham (Gen. 15:1; 17:1; 18:1), Isaac (Gen. 26:2), and Jacob (Gen. 28:13); the cloud of fire in the wilderness (Ex. 14:19; 40:34; Num. 9:15-23); Micaiah’s vision (1 Kings 22:19-22); Isaiah’s vision (Isa. 6); Ezekiel’s vision (Ezek. 1); and John’s vision of God on his throne (Rev. 4-5).
Theophany’s are of different kinds
Examples include a thunderstorm, fire, a cloud, glory, a courtroom, a human figure, a warrior, and a chariot. Each of these highlight aspects of God’s character and his dealings with us. Each foreshadows the coming of Christ. Each kind is mysteriously related to the other kinds.
Obvious cases of theophany’s fade off into cases that are not so obvious.
In a broad sense, every encounter between God and man shows affinities to theophanies. God’s presence with us is analogous to theophany. The general revelation of God through creation and providence displays God’s character (Rom. 1:18-23), and in this respect is theophany-like (Ps. 104:1-3).
God does things through theophany’s.
Typically, theophany’s function as founding events that establish continuing relations between God and his people.
Application: Every time God shows up by providing, healing, encouraging, speaking to our hearts, encouraging us, even those times when he shows us a ‘sign’ of sorts that he’s heard and answered or is leading in time of our questioning is a demonstration of Emmanuel.
: This season lets seek, recognize and enjoy God being with us and express our acknowledgement through worship, thanksgiving and the pursuit or what and how he shows his heart to us through obedience and faith.
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