Immanuel – God with us. Jesus Christ is Immanuel, Jesus Christ is God with us. But how did He become our Immanuel? There was a sign given for that. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14 (NKJV)
The sign was that a virgin shall conceive and the Son she bears would be the Immanuel. Now, we know that a virgin conceiving is against the laws of nature, the same nature that the Lord created. By breaching it, to be with us, the Lord God points out few things.
The LORD God reigns supreme. Everything in this universe is under His sovereign control and nothing is impossible for Him. We may not be able to break the laws of nature, but for the LORD Almighty, the laws of nature are nothing.
By breaching one of the inviolable laws of nature, the Lord is pointing out how irrational that some people believe in nature to be god, and how some people try to explain miracles and wonders that God does for His children by twisting and turning the nature. Nature cannot explain God; it can only be a witness bearer to the Almighty God and His awesome power.
By breaching the laws of nature to be with us, Jesus Christ is assuring us that being with us is very important for Him. If needed, He will breach the laws of nature again and again, to be with us, to keep us and to save us. If need arises, He will go against the laws of nature to perform miracles and wonders in your life. For He is Immanuel.
As I was reading my morning devotional after a very long time, I was sort of disheartened by the opening verse.
Lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. – Genesis 15:12
But the devotion written by F. B. Myer strengthened me spiritually and made me steadfast in my wavering faith, and here I am, sharing… hoping at least one more Christian will be strengthened by our Lord this morning. All praise, honour and glory to our Lord God and to His Son and our Redeemer Jesus Christ. Amen.
The sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep is soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a nightmare upon his heart.
Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness? When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit– these know something of the “horror of great darkness.”
It is thus that human life is made up; brightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline.
O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side. Let us, by our Forerunner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel. — F. B. Meyer
Immanuel – God with us. Jesus Christ, our Saviour is Immanuel; Jesus is with us.
Unfortunately we have confined the presence of our Lord to few places like Gentiles do. In the places where we worship, Jesus is with us. If two or three gather in His Name and pray, then Jesus is among them. And there are few more places where, depending on your denomination and your spiritual background, Jesus Christ is with us.
But our Lord Jesus Christ is Immanuel – He is with us. Wherever we go, He is with us. It is not the place that matters to Him; it is our hearts that matter. HE resides in our hearts and whether we like to take Him to certain places or not, He is with us.
Does Jesus love to be with us wherever we go? Yes, He does. Is He pleased with certain places we go? Now, that is a question I wish every Christian asks before going and I am sure, if we sincerely ask this question before we decide to go somewhere, we will be saved from lots of sins, temptations and sufferings.
The psalmist puts it in a very elegant manner: “If I go up into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.” (Psalm 139:8, MKJV) Sheol here is not Hell as some translations say, but the place of the dead. And the psalmist says even if he makes his bed there… he is not talking about his death, but lying peacefully among the dead, just like sinners, even then the Lord Immanuel is there with him.
You may not agree with me in this. But there are times, deep in sin, with no hopes left, I have heard the silent whisper; I have felt the tender breeze; I have realized the wounded hand of my Redeemer. More than anything, this realization, that even in my worst moments, moments I have ever been ashamed of, moments I would never share with anyone, my Lord Jesus was with me, with that one look that broke Peter’s heart on that night when he denied knowing the Lord… yes, my LORD is Immanuel. Jesus Christ has always been there, even though I deliberately chose to ignore Him.
Dear friend, if the temptation of sin overwhelms, know that Immanuel is with you. The God Who overcame is with you. Because He is with you, you can also overcome this world and its lusts. You can win this battle and the war – for our Immanuel is also the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Immanuel – God with us.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us.
When I was growing up, in our boarding school, we were taught that if you are good, God would be with you; otherwise, He would forsake you. I understand that it was said to keep the kids in order. But it took years for me to accept that Jesus is Immanuel – God with us.
There are no qualifications, no conditions to be met, no stipulations to be fulfilled and no clauses attached. God with us. The revelation is one of the most glorious revelations I have received so far in my life. That God is with us.
Are there times when He won’t be with us? Absolutely not. HE is with us from the beginning to the end. Till the world ends. Even after the world ends. Every single day, God is with us. Every single moment, God is with us. We may fail to recognize His presence in the mundane life that we live; we may neglect Him because of our “busy” schedule; we may even reject His holy presence for some earthly things. But He is with us. God is with us. Jesus is Immanuel.
When things go wrong, we often feel that the Lord has abandoned us. When failures become routine part of our life, our heart feels as if we are forsaken by God. When afflictions, pain and sufferings increase manifold, we feel no presence of the Most Almighty as we look unto the heavens. Only darkness is there and it is, at times, difficult to believe that Jesus is with us. But dear friend, He is Immanuel. And look beneath. Underneath are His everlasting arms (Deut.33:27), holding you and sustaining you during these tough times.
Yes dear friend. It is not the situation that dictates whether God is with you or not. Do not look for signs to know if the Lord is with you or not. Do not let the external circumstances to tell you whether Jesus is with you or not. JESUS is IMMANUEL – God with us. With us always.
May His everlasting presence bring abundance of joy to all of us during these holidays. Amen.
The name “Immanuel” was sort of an enigma for me when I grew up. Since it is mentioned in the very first chapter of the New Testament, every year when the New Year begins, I would read the name and then hear it again in the month of December during the Christmas season. As a kid, the only thing I was asked to remember was that Immanuel means “God with us”, which obviously did not take to memorize.
But memorizing as a kid is not the same as experiencing it in our life, is it? As I grew up, and the Lord in His grace, saved me, I started to read the Bible with more prayers and initially, I ended up with more questions than answers. And the very first question every time I start reading the Bible afresh in the New Year (please don’t get me wrong, I only start reading afresh every year; whether I finish reading the Bible or not, is a different question) is, how Matthew 1:21 is the fulfilment of Matthew 1:23 or Isaiah 7:14.
Matthew 1:21 is the command by the angel to Joseph to name the Child: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:22 asserts that this happened as the direct fulfilment of the prophecy by Isaiah: So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying…
Matthew 1:23 quotes the verse from Isaiah 1:14 which was the Old Testament prophecy: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.””
Now for someone growing with thousand questions already, this one was very confusing. When the birth of certain people were given as a prophecy, they were given the same names that the Lord had mentioned, as a direct fulfilment of the prophecy – Isaac and John the Baptist readily come to our minds. But here, the prophecy tells that His Name shall be “Immanuel” and Matthew writes that this was fulfilled when the Son of God was named “Jesus”. It was confusing to me.
But then the Spirit of God revealed that the name “Immanuel” needs more meditation with His guidance to understand how it is fulfilled by the Name above all names, “Jesus.” God willing, let us meditate on this wonderful name of our Lord during this Christmas season.
May the joy of this holiday season be with us all. Amen.
I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick. – Ezekiel 34:16 (NKJV)
Few days back, I was informed of an impending visit from some of our relatives. As we were praying, the Lord told me that I needed to give counselling to a teenage boy who is going in the wrong way. The Lord also gave me insights into his wounded mind, and gave examples that I must use from my own bitter experiences from my childhood. So, I surrendered myself to God’s will and was waiting for the boy to arrive.
But it so happened that as soon as they came, they had to leave right away to another city. But before leaving, the kid asked me if he could speak to me on Saturday afternoon as he would be back by then. I told that was fine. But again, their travel plans changed and I was informed that he would be arriving late in the night, and if possible, he would like to talk for few minutes with me. I agreed again as the Lord had told me to. Then Saturday night, I was informed that due to traffic problems, they were not leaving that evening, but would be reaching on Sunday morning, and would be leaving within an hour or so. Now, I was in a dilemma, as Sunday mornings are generally hectic and it would be difficult to accommodate time to talk with him, as I would be in the church by 9:45 AM to prepare for the worship service. But, I was assured this time, that they would be in the morning by 7:30, so just few minutes of my time would mean a lot. So, I hurried up all my processes so I could be ready by 7:30. Yet again, the dreaded phone call came, informing us that the traffic was severe than they had anticipated, and hence they would reach our home only by 10 AM.
Now I knew that I won’t be even able to say goodbye to the kid, as I would be in the church, leading the worship when they arrive and leave right after. But it also bothered me that the Lord had told me that I had to talk to the boy and gave words. The Lord is always true to His Word. So, I sought the Lord’s guidance in this matter… and something happened.
I suddenly became too weak and started feeling severe pain. As I told my wife rather eloquently, I had only 4 minor ailments that is bothering me: 1. I am not able to walk. 2. I am not able to stand. 3. I am not able to sit, and 4. I am not able to lie down. Though I am able to joke about it now, at that moment, the pain was intense and severe, I did not know what to do. Could not sit, stand, walk or lie down. What are the things you could possibly do when you are feeling severe pain? So, at the last minute, I had to give the worship to our assistant pastor who has been in training for just such emergencies.
At 10 AM, when the worship was starting, the teenage boy called me, asking if I could spare just five minutes of my time. Though I was in pain, I asked him to come, as my wife just then pointed out that the Lord has been truthful to His Word. As we spoke, he realized how many wounds he has suppressed in his sub-conscious, how he has been blaming himself for what has happened to his parents, how he had been subjected to severe physical beating in the name of being disciplined, and finally how it had led him to abuse his own body. As we spoke, I could see that the Lord was making a breakthrough in the kid’s heart, and we ended up talking for nearly an hour. As he left, I believe the presence and the grace of the Lord was with him, and the Great Physician will heal the wounds of that teenage boy.
However, the one thing that I realized was how in the parable of a lost sheep, the Good Shepherd leaves all the 99 sheep in safety and goes searching for that one last sheep. I never took it literally. But today, as nearly 100 believers were worshipping the Lord, He had made me indisposed so that He could reach out to one lost soul… it made me realize how important each soul is for our Great Shepherd.
If the Lord had asked me my preference, attending the worship of the Lord or to spend the same time counselling a lost soul, I admit that I would have preferred attending the worship of our Lord God. But today, the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, made me realize that every lost sheep in important to Him. All I can say is, “Thank You Lord for the affliction that You gave me this day, so that I could be of use to a dear lost soul. May Your Name alone be praised. Amen.”
“Unto you it is given . . .to suffer” (Philippians 1:29).
God keeps a costly school. Many of its lessons are spelled out through tears. Richard Baxter said, “O God, I thank Thee for a bodily discipline of eight and fifty years”; and he is not the only man who has turned a trouble into triumph.
This school of our Heavenly Father will soon close for us; the term time is shortening every day. Let us not shrink from a hard lesson or wince under any rod of chastisement. The richer will be the crown, and the sweeter will be Heaven, if we endure cheerfully to the end and graduate in glory.
–Theodore L. Cuyler
Who can bear a broken spirit? – Proverbs 18:14 (NKJV)
Imagine the life of Job’s wife just a day before calamity struck her family. Her husband was prosperous, well-respected – both in this world and in the presence of God, and he was the greatest of all the people of the East. She had seven sons and three daughters, who lived in such a unity. Each son’s birthday was celebrated by all the brothers and sisters together. From what Job said later, we understand that they treated their servants well, and in turn they were respected well. From the outset, it would look like that she would be the poster woman for “The Virtuous Woman” from Proverbs 31. Life was good. Serene. Blessed.
Then 24 hours later, she had lost everything. All her children were killed; all their valuable were raided by the enemies and all their servants were dead. Just in 24 hours, her life changed from being perfect to completely void. Yet, the Scriptures do not record her of wailing, or cursing God, or berating Job for their losses. Even when Job said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21, NKJV), she did not rail against him. She suffered her losses stoically, reflecting that she was, indeed, noble in nature.
Then one day, she saw her loving husband covered with boils, from bottom to top, sitting in the middle of the ashes, scarping himself hard with a potsherd. It is one thing to suffer a sudden loss, but to suffer a war of attrition, where you are witnessing your loved one suffer, right before your eyes, without an end in the sight, is entirely a different thing; such an attrition will break even the strongest of the spirits. And who can bear a broken spirit?
If you have seen your loved one suffering in pain every day, withering away daily, right before your eyes, with no hope whatsoever, you already know how difficult it is.
Our Immanuel, Jesus Christ, knew that the death and the eventual burial of Lazarus was going to bring great glory to our Father, that the Son of God also would be glorified, and that Lazarus would come back alive and his entire family was going to rejoice. Yet when He saw Mary and Martha were weeping, John records that the Lord groaned in the spirit and was troubled (John 11:33) and eventually, the Lord Himself wept (John 11:35). If our Lord, knowing what He was about to do, groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and if the Lord Himself wept, then imagine how much He understands how brittle our hearts. Jesus knows our weaknesses more than we do. And He sympathizes with us and is compassionate towards our broken spirit.
Suffering and afflictions are at times hard. But waiting without any sliver of hope is also equally hard. If afflictions affect our body and mind, attrition breaks our spirit. It is with a broken spirit, Job’s wife uttered those six words. But, even then, she did not speak against the Lord or even against her husband. As they say, something was lost in translation. God willing, may the Spirit of our Lord lead us to the Truth as it is in the Scriptures.