Understanding the names of Jesus in the Christmas story (4)
“Immanuel” is a name given to Jesus in Matthew 1:23. Ps Derek Foo helps us appreciate the beauty of this name.
Names are very significant and important to us. They give us a sense of who we are and where we belong. As parents, my wife and I chose to name our daughter Charis, praying that she would abound in the loving grace of God. Matthew accords a specific Hebrew name to Jesus in Matthew 1:23—Immanuel meaning God with us. He quotes almost verbatim from the words of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14. In doing so, he was reminding his audience, the Jews, about the divine significance of this baby to be born. We too should appreciate the significance of Immanuel in our lives. Here are three points for us to remember as we think about Jesus as our Immanuel.
1. God’s Plan Will Never Be Foiled
Isaiah 7 was never intended to be a prophetic Scripture about the Messiah. Isaiah was revealing God’s plan to Ahaz king of Judah as he faced attacks from the kings of Israel and Samaria. The people of Judah were shaken and full of fear. In response, God assures Ahaz to not fear and to stand firm in their faith. Isaiah tells Ahaz, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign…” (Isaiah 7:14a)—a sign that God’s plan will come to pass.
God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac, despite Sarah’s barrenness. Moses heard God’s voice from the burning bush and performed miracles to assure the Israelites of their deliverance from Egypt. Gideon saw the fleece wet and the ground dry and was assured of God’s plan of deliverance. These are but a few examples of the times God gave signs to His people to assure them that His plan will always come to pass.
This Christmas, remember that God’s sovereign plan will never be foiled. His plan for the salvation of mankind has never been destroyed, thwarted, or even delayed a little. At just the right time, God gave the world His Son, Jesus Christ, our precious Savior. We may have experienced many setbacks and uncertainties because of the global pandemic. Yet, we can be assured that God’s plan will never fail, and everything is under His control. May we trust and have faith in God’s sovereign plan, for His thoughts and ways are indeed far higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).
2. God’s Promise Will Never Be Broken
In the revelation of God’s divine plan, we are assured that what He says will come to pass. Isaiah tells Ahaz, “… The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son…” (Isaiah 7:14b, cf. Matthew 1:23a). Judah was crying out for deliverance from enemy attacks. The Jews were crying out for deliverance from Roman rule. God’s promise of salvation in both cases is assured through the birth of a son. God fulfilled His promise to David that a king from his lineage will always be on the throne (2 Samuel 7:16; cf. 2 Kings 8:19). God promised a Savior who would save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Indeed, it is through Jesus Christ that we are saved from the penalty of our sin—eternal death.
Therefore, remember this Christmas, that God’s promises will never be broken. When we cry out to God in our struggles, He promises salvation and deliverance—a way to emerge victoriously. We can, as His precious children, cling on to the various promises He makes in His Word—He will supply our every need (Philippians 4.19); that He will work in all things for our good (Romons 8:28); and that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31). Trust in His unfailing promises that will never be broken. Great is His faithfulness.
3. God’s Presence Will Never Depart
Every Christian should always desire to abide in God’s presence. The Tabernacle in the middle of the Israelite camp served to remind God’s people of God’s ever-abiding presence—that God was with them always, and that they were to move only at His command. In the times of oppression experienced by Judah in OT and Israel in the NT, Immanuel—“God with us” reminded the Israelites that God had not left them. He was with them by their side.
This Christmas, remember that God is with us. His Presence will never depart from us.
This Christmas, remember that God is with us. His Presence will never depart from us. Whether we are worshiping and praying in church or in our homes, He is right there with us. Jesus Himself promised to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20), and the Holy Spirit dwells in us (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16). When we walk through dark and tough times, just as we did from the start of the pandemic, we are assured of His presence that comforts us (Psalms 23:4) and gives us peace (John 14:27).
Ps Derek Foo has been serving full-time as the Worship and IT Support pastor at Elim Church for the past decade. He is married to Hwee Min for 13 years and together they have a beautiful nine-year-old daughter, Charis.