So, just as promised, here I am blogging twice in one week! aghast! But I was really motivated this time to talk about something I noticed was a constant theme this year during the Christmas season. Not only was it a theme to be reminded of during the hardships of the month of December worldwide but also I went to TWO separate Christmas eve services where this topic was referenced in the sermon… and, well, there’s a christmas carol “O Come, O Come…”….
The word “Immanuel” comes from a combination of a few Hebrew words. Simple words really. But they have an enormous impact. “Imm” is a participle and cane having meanings of “with” or “among.” The second portion “anu” refers to a 1st person plural of “us” or “our.” And the final part “el” is actually a translation for “lord, master” but in the couple times it appears in the biblical text, refers to the LORD or God himself. According to the BDB manual for Hebrew words it means “with us is God” and symbolizes the presence of God to deliver his people. Isaiah 7:14 use it and the Gospels point to this as the description of Jesus the Messiah…Immanuel, God with us. In fact, Matthew quotes the Isaiah text to point to Jesus’ birth…
After understanding the meaning of the word–it is easy to see why this is important to the Christmas story. It is one of the names of Jesus (next to the term “Messiah”) that steams from the history of the Old Testament that predicts a coming deliverer or savior that will actually mean God has come down to His people. It is a reflection of God amongst the Israelites in the wilderness, in the tabernacle, living in the Holy of Holies. Ironically, this is the connection that John makes in his Prologue when he is talking about the WORD and dwelt among us. It is the same meaning in Greek for the Hebrew of tabernacling.
Connecting it to modern events : bad things have happened around the world this Christmas season. Newtown, CT, China, Philippines, ongoing war in the middle east… And people always want to ask “Where is God.” And though I feel personally like my response would not necessarily help someone going through a tragedy, I always want to point out this theme, this word… that God is with us. It’s not a question of where is He, because He is already there…the question is much deeper… more like why did this happen and how am I to move on… but blaming someone or trying to avoid the question cane sometimes be easier.
So in conclusion– I think we should all think of Christmas as the Immanuel Season…the time of year we are reminded that God came to be with us, to live among us and to guide us through the life He not only experienced beside us but that He also has full control and authority over.