Today’s Reading: Isaiah 7-9
Immanuel is a name most often associated with Christmas. If you read the note at the bottom of the page in your Bible, you’ll see that “Immanuel” means “God with us” (perhaps you already knew that before the note!). But Immanuel is applicable throughout the rest of the year as well!
This is the first time Immanuel is mentioned in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that God had not been with man before. God was with Adam in the garden. God was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He went with Moses. And He promised Joshua to be with him wherever his foot stepped, just to name a few.
The difference with Immanuel, however, is that He would be born (Isaiah 7:14)! “What!? How can God be born if He is eternal?” you may ask. Yes, He is eternal, but that doesn’t mean He can’t take on a human body. Truly, it is an easy thing for Him. This fact—that it sounds like God Himself, in the contemporary perspective of Isaiah, will become a man—tops all other prophecies. Amidst the doom and gloom of the prophets is a hope that Yahweh will actually move into the neighbourhood; not in a temple of gold, but an ordinary human body. What a hope! What a future! Sadly, however, the 12 tribes of Israel didn’t understand or appreciate what Isaiah was actually saying (and they continue to do so).
What saddens me more, however, is how often we, as Christians, can get so used to this fact; it becomes “old hat.” We neglect to realize how awesome it is that we know Immanuel! And we often forget how special and powerful a message that gives us. The greatest difference between Christianity and the world’s religions is not our morals and ethics, our history or even our scriptures; it’s Immanuel.