Immanuel – God with Us

by Diego Mota, DBU Staff

Day 6 of Advent

Today's Reading

Matthew 1:23

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Matthew 1:23

I was 12 years old when I went to “downtown Rio” for the first time by myself. I was in panic! The city of Rio de Janeiro is about the same size as Dallas, TX, but it has over six times more people in it. Considering it is also one of the most dangerous cities in the world, my anguish was more than justified. After giving me the necessary instructions to fulfill the mission, my mother gave me a reaffirming hug while my mind was racing. What if I forget one of the instructed steps and get lost in that huge city? What if I get kidnapped? What if I get distracted and someone steals the parcel I am supposed to deliver? “God is with you,” she said, clearly noticing how scared I was. I got on the bus and off I went into an “uncharted territory”.

The kingdom of Judah was surrounded by danger. The neighboring nations were pressuring Judah to join a military coalition and fight against Syria. The alternative was to aid Syria and become its vassal-state, postponing an inevitable invasion sometime later. Either way, the outcome would be disastrous.

It was amid such distress that the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14b). Despite the circumstances, the people of Judah were to keep their faith and focus on Immanuel, which means “God with us” – the very truth that prevails, the assurance of salvation to which God’s people should hold on.

The Gospel of Matthew uses this memory to introduce the Savior to be born (Matthew 1:18-25). As the angel appears to Joseph and gives him the instructions on how to proceed regarding Mary and the baby, the author clarifies that “all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet”:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The same prophet Isaiah affirmed that “the grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8 ESV). God is with us. As king Ahaz faced terrible pressure, God was with him. As Mary faced the upcoming public disgrace for being pregnant before marriage, God was with her. As Joseph faced the humiliation of finding out his fiancée was with child, God was with him.

As I faced my fears and conquered the streets of Rio, God was with me. As we face a pandemic and the consequent economic distress, God is with us. As we face another Christmas without a loved one, God is with us. Circumstances come and go but one thing is for sure – and it’s the most important of all: Immanuel, God with us.