by John F. Klem
The prophetic text that holds our attention as believers during the Christmas season is Isaiah 7:14; its New Testament reference in Matthew 1:23.
“To Ahaz, King of Judah God declared through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet, therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
This prophetic word was uttered in desperate times to a rebellious king and nation when Assyria was strong and eager to dominate the ancient Near Eastern world. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy is affirmed with the birth of Christ. The gospel writer Matthew declared, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us.’”
I am interested in the theological significance of the virgin-born child’s name, Immanuel, which means “God with us.” I am especially curious about its impact on how we celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is a prophetic holiday marking the time when the God of Heaven and earth came to be with us like no other period in human history. Prior to the birth of Christ, God was actively involved in creation and actively a part of the formation of His people Israel. The book of Psalms is filled with references to the Lord’s presence with His people in every detail of life (e.g., Psalms 68; 78; 105; 106; 107; 114; 135; 136). The birth Christ, however, marked a unique and unrepeatable expression of “God with us” theology.
The eternal, omnipresent Christ physically inserted Himself into our time and space to be with us, to pay the debt of our sin, and to redeem us. Because of this, Christmas is the apex of the “God with us” theology. The “God with us” theology does not end with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. God maintains an active involvement in His creation and with His church.
However, the intimacy of “God with us” theology is now sustained through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit from the ascension onward. Christ did not leave us in an orphanage. Christ gave us the eternal, omnipresent Holy Spirit to dwell in us (John 14:16).
“And they shall call Him Immanuel, which means, God with us.” May God help us to enter into the joy of “God with us” Christmas theology.
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.