This Is The Way Walk in It: Immanuel 'God Is With Us'

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This Is The Way Walk in It

Immanuel 'God Is With Us'

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Last night I was mulling over what I might write for this monthly column. I began flipping through the Rolodex of my mind to see all the places, people and events we've explored together over the past 10 years.

A decade on the way

We've ventured into the deserts of the Middle East, the jungles of South America and the happenings in my front yard with my wife and grandchildren. We've wandered through the palaces of Jordan and Oman, sat in a graveyard at Gettysburg and listened to George Washington in a tavern in the Hudson River Valley. We've sat in a foxhole in World War I as two opposing combatants faced each other. Most recently through the words of Revelation 4 and 5, we've visited the throne room of God.

That's just a small portion of the places we have traveled and the people we have met as we explored God's encouraging directive of Isaiah 30:21, "This is the way, walk in it." This column's goal has always been more than simply stretching your mind about prophetic occurrences. It seeks also to firm up and widen your heart to properly receive the revelations of God regarding the future. This column also seeks to help you deal with the current challenges that confront us in a world apart from God.

Sometimes I wonder what is left to cover or what more might I share. Perhaps it's time to "call it a day" (or perhaps "a decade and a column") and move on! And then I ask myself, if I had one parting word to pass on, what possible entry might I share?

It is amazing how God opens minds and hearts when needed and especially when we ask. Coming out of the recesses of my computer's speakers on my desk was a beautiful song titled "Immanuel," composed and sung by Michael Card. It is this name with prophetic overtones that provides the sure handle that squarely fits each event that comes our way.

Imagine the impact

The prophet Isaiah was inspired to offer this prophetic utterance at a time of great despair in the history of God's covenant people. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah were rife with disobedience, intrigue and a seemingly hopeless future. It was at this moment of despair that God planted a prophetic nugget into the soiled landscape of man's affairs.

It was then, when the kingdoms of men were farther than ever from the original atmosphere of Eden, that Isaiah 7:14 proclaimed, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." The name Immanuel means "God is with us."

Imagine! What an incredibly different world that would make if we allowed that one name to impact every thought and deed in every living moment. Yes, God is with us! What better word and gift is there to possibly share?

This one word's all-encompassing impact was not lost on the author of one of the Gospels. Matthew utilizes the term when telling the message of the angel to Joseph concerning the birth of Jesus. "So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:22-23).

The apostle Paul would later be inspired to say, "When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4).

God clothed with human skin

"God with us" was a reality! He was there—no longer merely by prayer before an altar or by vision, nor simply by magnificent public worship or private devotion, nor by simply a "still small voice" or the trembling of an earthquake. Now the Divine had come to earth clothed in human skin to walk and talk among His own creation and die in their midst.

John spells out in crystal clear fashion how the God being called the Word "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

The word dwelt comes from the Greek word skenoo, which means to literally pitch a tent or "to tabernacle." It is John, under the inspiration of God, who shows us that God decided to "pitch a tent" within the wilderness of the human condition, becoming "God with us."

It is this statement that differentiates Christianity from all other religions. It reveals that God is not merely some benevolent "First Cause" or some faraway absentee cosmic babysitter. The One known as the Word separated Himself from the privileges of His divine station and volunteered to be placed on a bed of straw in a manger. Rather than being surrounded by seraphim, cherubim and the other celestial hosts, the Word, now Immanuel, chose to dwell among us by being placed on a "throne of straw" in a place used for barnyard animals.

Making the impossible possible

It is in this moment of Immanuel's prophesied birth to Mary that we begin to gain a sense of God's saving work. It is at Immanuel's conception that God makes the impossible possible by taking the young Mary, who hadn't engaged in sexual relations with any man, and blesses her in bringing forth a child. It is always God's greatest miracle to take that which is nothing and bring forth abundance. God, in His mercy, works with you and me, telling us, "You'll be Mine."

It is Mary, who prophetically utters words of jubilee (release) to describe the impact of God's purposes through Immanuel.

"He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty" (Luke 1:52-53).

These are words spoken long before by the prophets to depict a moral, social and economic upheaval of staggering proportions to bring about a world made right by One who knows the plight of the common individual (Isaiah 40:3-5; Isaiah 40:29).

It is this revelation of a future revolution of spiritual proportions, led by none other than the heavenly Jesus Christ, to which World News and Prophecy gives voice in every article as we eagerly anticipate the second coming of Immanuel.

In fact, it is during this autumn season of the year that Immanuel was born. It is in the times of trumpets (one of God's annual Holy Days, Leviticus 23:24) and harvest, not the dead of winter, that Immanuel would come among us.

As followers of Immanuel in today's world, we are granted the privilege of observing those same annual biblical celebrations of God's saving work, but now in the light of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, with the eyes of our hearts focused on His second coming.

(For more information on this, see our booklets Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? and God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.)

These biblically prescribed Holy Days keep us secure in Christ's active ministry in our everyday lives. They point us to the future completion of our Heavenly Father's will for humanity as summed up in this prophetic encouragement:

"Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell [skenoo or "tabernacle"] with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God'" (Revelation 21:1-3).

The exclamation point

Yes, the ultimate active sense of this one comforting word Immanuel, "God with us," is the exclamation point of God's comforting prophetic promises.

It is in the words of Michael Card's "Immanuel" that footsteps of "this is the way, walk in it" (Isaiah 30:21) guide us through life's joys or sorrows.

The guiding words of this song are a combination of Isaiah 7:13, Isaiah 60:1 and Romans 8:31. Let's follow this path toward an incredible future.

"A sign shall be given
"A virgin will conceive
"A human baby bearing
"Undiminished deity
"The glory of the nations
"A light for all to see
"Hope for all who will embrace
"His warm reality
"Our God is with us
"And if God is with us
"Who could stand against us
"Our God is with us

Yes, it is one word, just one word, Immanuel, that makes all the difference!