Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a Son, and you are you to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
Did the angel make a mistake? Was he supposed to tell Joseph “give Him the name Immanuel”? Or maybe Immanuel and Jesus mean the same thing?
The answer to all three of those questions is NO. There wasn’t a mistake; His name should be Jesus; and Immanuel and Jesus don’t mean the same thing.
Immanuel is a cool name, appearing only three times in the Bible. The prefix “im” means with, and the suffix “el” means God. The root word in its broadest sense means people, but when we’re talking about God saving “HIS people from their sins,” the best translation would be His kinsman. Thus Immanuel = with His kinsman God.
Just before giving us the prophesy about Immanuel, Isaiah experienced the horror of being with God. When Isaiah was in God’s presence he said, “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a sinful man and I have seen God Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5-6). Here’s the simple fact: Our sin separates us from God’s presence. Jesus (in the Hebrew Yeshua = God saves) is the only One Who could remove the penalty of our sin!
Only Jesus could atone for our sin and remove our guilt (see Isaiah 6:7), so that God could stay with us (Immanuel)!
Jesus (our salvation) makes Immanuel (with His kinsman God) possible. So as the Christmas carol O Come, O Come, Emmanuel implores us: Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee!
May you live in the forgiveness of Jesus and the joy of His Immanuel presence this Christmas season!
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