Emmanuel – God with us
Today’s post has been written by Jodie. She is a member of the leadership team and is our Operations Manager.
Right from the beginning of creation, God has desired to be with His people. In Genesis 3 we read about God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening breeze, being with Adam and Eve. Then throughout the Old Testament we learn that God’s desire was always that He would be with His people and live among His people (e.g. “I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people” Leviticus 26:11-12; “I will live among you…” Zechariah 2:10-11). But after sin entered the world, there was a great separation and God was not able to be with His people in the same way. He tried to be with His people by being contained in a Temple, but it wasn’t ideal.
The arrival of Jesus
With the arrival of Jesus things changed! John 1:14 says “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood” (The Message version). Jesus moved into our neighbourhood! He moved into ‘our place’; more specifically a neighbourhood where the Jews were recovering from the revolt and overthrow of their nation; a neighbourhood where King Herod was ruling and was so threatened about rumours of a new king that he had all the boys under 2 years old murdered… Jesus ‘moved in’ to the place where there was a broken past, where they were grieving over the present situation and where they had huge concerns of an uncertain future. God was WITH them!
In Matthew 1:23 we read about Jesus’ coming being the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 7:14:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, which means ‘God with us’.”
What does it mean to have Emmanuel, God ‘with us’?
God now dwells with us by the Holy Spirit living in us (1 Corinthians 6:19). We are now His temple and He lives in us. God is ‘with us’ through close fellowship, reminiscent of being in the Garden of Eden walking with Adam and Eve again.
When we talk about a woman being pregnant, we sometimes use the phrase ‘she is with child’. The baby is always with her. Wherever she goes, the baby goes. She cannot leave the baby behind. Whatever she does, the baby is there too. She talks and sings, and the baby hears. She has no choice about it, baby is always with her. Mum and baby are inseparable at this stage. In some ways it is like this with Emmanuel, our God. Now that we have the Holy Spirit, we host His presence with us at all times.
How wonderful that we now know Emmanuel, God WITH us…
God with us
– God understands… He is not remote, He has ‘moved into our neighbourhood’! He is not uninterested or unaffected. He is WITH us and experiences life with us. He knows our pain, He knows our joys, He knows our concerns, He knows our worries…He is WITH us and understands.
– God helps… in the face of suffering, God still chooses to be WITH us. He hasn’t abandoned us. Words, truth and facts don’t always bring us comfort when we are in the midst of difficult times. Comfort comes from having someone WITH you, someone sitting alongside you and being WITH you. God helps us by being WITH us.
– God listens… He is WITH us and listens to us when we speak to Him. He longs for us to communicate and be in close relationship with Him. 1 John 5:14 says “and we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him”. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us to pray about everything, to bring all our worries and requests to God in prayer with thanksgiving, and then we will experience His peace.
– God empowers us…God being WITH us is demonstrated by the Holy Spirit in us empowering us to serve Jesus, to share the gospel with others (Acts 1:8), to change and grow to be more like Him (Gal 5:22-23), and to glorify Him in our lives (John 16:13-14).
So how does this affect us?
– We can be confident and comforted that God is WITH us.
– We can know hope and healing as God is WITH us.
– We can pray and be sure that God hears us as He is WITH us.
– We can be sure that we will make a difference to those around us as He is WITH us.
As we walk into this season of Christmas and into the New Year 2023, be encouraged that wherever we go, we take His presence with us. We are inseparable. Where we go, He goes. We take His light, comfort, hope and healing with us. God dwells in us by His Holy Spirit.
Emmanuel, God with us.