I don’t know if you watched the “mini-series” the Bible. I really enjoyed it. They took a portion of that production and made the movie “Son of God” that was released to the theaters. That was a really awesome experience. There was this phrase that the Israelites used often in the movie; “God is with us!” Whenever they were rallying the troops for battle or under some kind of oppression or had some great adventure ahead of them…they would declare “God is with us.” Every time they said it I was moved. I believe it was God’s hand on the movie to have this be the anthem of the people in the movie.
You occasionally see the phrase “God is with us” as a declaration in the Bible but it is more implied than explicit. There are a few Psalms where it is explicitly called out. There are a couple of battles where the leadership made this declaration but it isn’t as obvious when you read the stories of the Nation of Israel. Still it is apparent that “God with us” was at the very center of their lives. So I like that the movie highlighted this.
There is one very special reference to “God is with us” in a name given to Jesus. Here is the reference:
Matt 1:23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. (AMP)
The angel is making a prophetic declaration to Joseph which goes back to this reference:
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted (ESV)
For the story in Isaiah the King of Judah, Ahaz is under attack by Israel (northern kingdom of Israel) and Syria (friends of Israel). Ahaz makes a deal with Assyria (where Babylon is) and Egypt to protect Judah. God makes a promise with Ahaz that it will all work out and Judah will survive. Isaiah is to have a son named Immanuel that by the time he is 12 or so (the age of knowing how to refuse evil and choose good) he will be eating milk curds along with honey. They won’t be eating from the land since it will still be in thorns and thistles as a result of war but they will have livestock to provide milk. It is a good news story for Ahaz and the kingdom. I think the timing reference is also important. Check this out:
Luke 2:42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. (NIV)
Jesus was 12 when we first hear Him talk about God as His Father. I think that is really cool. Just as the Immanuel of Isaiah, Emmanuel of Joseph waits 12 years before you see the beginnings of victory.
The name Immanuel is actually difficult to translate. The text says it means “God is with us.” That is a transliteration based on English limitations. It literally means: “Me With(with is plural) God.” It has this strange concept where the word translated as “with” is actually plural. In English it doesn’t make sense translated explicitly so we make “me” into “us” and “with” is just “with.” The word “with” could be “on my side” or “next to me” or “casting a shadow on me like an umbrella” or “among me” or “in the midst of me” or “surrounding me” or “wrapping me in a big hug.” I think you are getting the point. You can have a plural “with” and it make sense.
What is the point? For the Nation of Judah the birth of Immanuel was a promise that God was with them; among them (temple) and for them (they win). It was a prophetic reference for them in their time and Jesus literally walking the planet as God with us but so much more.
I believe that this is such a powerful revelation of God’s plan. I believe that “Emmanuel (New Testament)” is the fulfilment of what “Immanuel (Old Testament)” was a shadow of. God was with the Nation of Judah and now God is with mankind. God’s relationship with the Nation of Israel (Judah in this case) was a shadow of what He intended with us. Jesus was fully man and fully God. Jesus is what it looks like for a man to be in a perfect relationship with his creator. Yes Jesus was and is fully God. He was born of divine conception. There is no doubt that Jesus is one facet of a triune God but still He was fully man, tempted in every way like a man. He was emptied of His divine powers but retained His divine identity. He was sin free but not free of weakness. He performed miracles not of Himself but by the power of the Spirit. He did many great works not of His will but of God’s will. He said only what His Father said. Jesus was exactly what it looks like for a sinless man to walk the Earth in a perfect relationship with His Father in Heaven.
We get to do the same thing. When the angel tells Joseph that Jesus will be called Emmanuel it wasn’t just because He would walk among us but He (as a man) would have God with Him in every way. God would be on Him, with Him, beside Him, in Him, over Him, preceding Him, communing with Him, loving Him, teaching Him, giving Him wisdom…and on and on…the “plural” of with. Man is with God. God is with Man. Can you begin to see it? God did walk the Earth (with us) as Jesus. There is no debate here. But like every other amazing revelation of God, there is more. He also walked the Earth as a man with God.
This prophetic word by Isaiah pointed to a final state of man as God intended. We are a new creation in Christ. We are one with the Spirit of Christ. We are being conformed to His image, His relationship. God is with us who can be against us. God is in us as the Holy Spirit. Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. We are being transformed in our minds to understand and in our being to resemble. We are being transformed from glory to glory as we look into the mirror and see Jesus looking back! Emmanuel is Jesus and Emmanuel is in us. We are the fulfilment of Emmanuel! We are His kids and He is our God. God is with us!!! Come on and declare it. Shout it from the rooftops. Emmanuel, God is with us!!