Have you ever been in the presence of a ‘big name’? I had the privilege of meeting a world-renowned political figure who had made an immense contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa during Apartheid. There were hundreds of other people trying to get close to him at the same time.
While all this happened, I felt so safe in his presence. I knew that it was highly likely that I would not be put into a dangerous situation simply because I stood in conversation with this political icon who commanded so much respect and held so much power. Those in his personal life or immediate space could rest in the fact that he had at his disposal, the authority to command the best security forces in the land to aid him in times of danger.
By being in direct contact with this ‘big name’ I was privileged to receive the special treatment he did, but more than this, being in his presence meant I was safe.
The name “Immanuel” is introduced to us in the book of Isaiah 7:14 when a prophecy is given that a virgin would conceive a son who would be called Immanuel. From reading the preceding verses we understand that the birth and naming of this child would serve as a sign which embodied the true hope of Israel in their suffering.
The name of our Savior is a ‘big name’. Immanuel has so many deep and life changing consequences for our faith.
So, what’s in a name you ask?
Immanuel is a Hebrew name meaning “God with us”. Furthermore, this name expresses the mystery of Godliness spoken of in 1 Timothy 3:16, that God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Immanuel is a representation of the supreme God having a personal presence in the lives of His children.
In Matthew 1: 21, 23 we witness the fulfillment of the promise which was made by God to the Israelites in Isaiah 7:14. It is Jesus who had been appointed to carry the name of Immanuel because Jesus was to save the world from its sins.
For God to be with us in the form of Immanuel, humanity is ultimately being saved from their sins because Jesus is the embodiment of God with us. This is huge for you and I. God desires to be with us in a personal way and that is where our salvation comes from. We don’t need fire to fall from heaven or to see supernatural manifestations to be saved from whatever pit we are wallowing in today.
The salvation, the rescue, for you and I, is simply in the fact of God’s presence in our lives.
One of my favorite authors, Ravi Zacharias puts it plainly in a quote:
“Having the answers is not essential to living. What is essential is the sense of God’s presence in dark seasons of questioning”.
Very often when we’re hurting, when we feel lost or when we feel alone and we are about to give up, we look for answers, we look for rational solutions and tangible things to fill the gaping holes of our existence. But, Immanuel is the promise that was given to us and we should look for nothing else outside of God’s presence. When God is present, power is present.
The name Immanuel embodies the full magnitude and depth of God’s power, His character and His love for humanity. What saves us is not the physical cross, or the act of Christ suffering on our behalf. No. Our salvation lies in the mystery of Godliness, that God came to the aid of humanity by being in direct, personal contact with humanity.
Our salvation lies in Immanuel because His name embodies love, and no salvation, no sacrifice could ever exist outside of love. And God is love.
And just like my experience with the ‘big name’ political icon, I am even more safe in the presence and in the name of Immanuel because it carries the very power of God.
Charles Spurgeon has this to say about the name Immanuel:
“God with us is the sufferers comfort. Is the balm of his woe. Is the alleviation of his misery. Is the sleep that God gives to His beloved. Is the rest after exertion”.
His name is loaded with power, I can tell you that. Even Satan is confounded by this name!
The implication of the name Emmanuel is not only in the fact that God has all the solutions to our pains but that HE IS our solution. HE IS our rest, our comfort, our healing, our hope. This should mean so much for you and I no-matter what our sorrows. God is everything we need.
I challenge you today, as you pray your many prayers which lay heavy on your heart, that you pray for the presence of God in all your turmoil because therein lies your power and your healing.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God. Psalm 42:5