Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
If you’ve ever wondered if you should spell Immanuel with an “I” or an “E”, you’re not alone. They are both correct spellings of a name that shows us more about God’s very character of “God with us”. Immanuel with an “I” is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Immanu” (with us) and El (God). Emmanuel with an “E” is a transliteration of the Greek “Emmanouel”. To transliterate means Write or print (a letter or word) using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language. Regardless of if we spell it with an “I” or an “E”, the concept of this name of God that we need to try to wrap our heads around is “God with us”.
We see the first appearance of Immanuel in Isaiah 7:14, as a prophecy written more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel”. We see this fulfilled in Jesus’ birth, in Matthew 1:22-23 “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” We also read Immanuel in Isaiah 8:8.
The concept of the presence of God living among His people started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (3:8) “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Obviously this section of Scripture is speaking to the fall of man, however we can deduce that they were accustomed to the presence of God in the garden, in the cool of the day.
God also manifested His presence to His people in Exodus 13, when He went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them and a pillar of fire at night. Jesus stated in Matthew 28:20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” God’s presence was within the tabernacle and also the temple (Shekinah glory of God).
How amazing is it to think about and read those examples in Scripture, where God’s presence still dwelt with man! It is amazing when you think of it with the perspective that God has always been after the hearts of His creation (people)! Granted, there were great “guards” put in place (such as with God’s presence on Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19, “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.”
How should this impact our thinking? If you have placed your faith in Christ alone for salvation, realize the magnitude of the access you have to the Father at any given time, because of Jesus? Not only that, but you have the Comforter, who is equally a person in the Trinity with you always, as a seal of your inheritance or a down payment as seen in Ephesians. May we NEVER take God’s presence for granted! Praise God the veil was torn because of Jesus and we can now BOLDLY approach the throne of grace! How will this Scriptural truth change your life today?