“Immanuel, God with Us, The Reason for the Season” – Message notes only – To listen to Pastor Lee’s message, click on the Watch Live link on this website to go to our FB page dated 12/20/2020.
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Immanuel, a miracle.
God the Son, leaving His throne in heaven, to take on man's flesh and be with us as we are, yet without sin or shame. (Heb. 4:15)
To be born of the virgin Mary, an innocent babe, into the humblest surroundings.
The Christmas "story" we all know; even unbelievers know of it.
But why was the incarnation of Christ required?
Hebrews 2:14-18, 4:14-16
And even though we are sinners, and God can allow no sin in His presence, He desires to live with us -- Immanuel, God with us.
Because only God can forgive sin (Lk. 5:20-26), pay sin's penalty (Rms. 6:23), through His perfect holiness, fulfill the law and it's requirements. (Matt. 5:17-20).
"Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world."
Immanuel, God with us.
I. Immanuel, God's Prophecy
Was Christ's birth supposed to be a miracle?
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
A child born without a physical father is an impossibility, hence, a miracle.
Even though most, including some who claim to be Christians, deny the truth of the virgin birth of Jesus, it is true, just as true as the inerrancy of the Bible, Christ's bodily resurrection, and the six literal days of creation.
Yet it is the miraculous that makes God, God.
Often, He will tell His people of His miracles beforehand to prove His deity.
"The Lord, Himself, will give you a sign..."
700 plus years before Christ's prophesied birth in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), God promised the Jewish people a King who would be born of the virgin.
"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son..."
* Virgin - Almah (Hb.) - A young woman who has never had physical relations with a man. (Gen. 24:43, Ex. 2:8, Prov. 30:19, SOS 1:3, 6:8)
* Parthenos (Gk.) - The Septuagint translation used by Matthew in his Gospel of the same virgin. (Matt. 1:18, 22-23)
In the Hebrew, it's written, "ha'almah" meaning "the virgin" indicating God had a special person in mind - Mary.
"...and shall call His name Immanuel..."
* "Immanuel" is not a proper name, but a description of the coming Son's character and purpose - God with us!
Upon this fulfilled prophecy, stand many of the major doctrines of the faith:
- The Trinity of God.
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit.
- Scriptural inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility.
- The sinlessness of Christ Jesus.
- Propitiary atonement.
- Justification, sanctification, glorification.
To name but a few.
The New Testament clearly teaches the virgin birth and incarnation of Christ Jesus, proving that the Creator God's prophetic miracle-working has provided salvation for His lost creation.
The Apostle Matthew, a Jewish tax collector, clearly understood this prophecy fulfilled in Christ's virgin birth, and His ultimate purpose:
Jesus, the God-Man, the Messiah of Israel, Joseph is His earthly, not biological, father. His Father is God.
Christ was "conceived of the Holy Spirit" through the virgin, He is in essence God Himself.
If Christ was not God, He would have been a sinner, and unable to save anyone from sin.
He had to be the perfect, sinless "Lamb of God" to be the sacrifice for the entire world (Jn. 1:49). And still many people struggle with the truth, the deity of Christ.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.....And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:1, 14)
As God told Abraham and Sarah of another promised miraculous birth:
"Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Gen. 18:14)
Another prophecy of the Christ:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa. 9:6)
This second prophecy speaks to the "God-man" Jesus Christ.
"A Child is born..."
* Points to His perfect humanity (man). (Matt. 1:18-25, Lk. 1:31-35, 2:1-7)
"...a Son is given..."
* Points to His deity (God).
* Jesus was not created a Son at His incarnation, He has always been the eternal Son of God. (Jn. 1:1)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
He is fully Man and fully God and co-equal with the Father.
"And His name will be called..."
* Names in Scripture describe a person's character - "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Immanuel, God with us!
II. Immanuel, God's Presence
God has always wanted to dwell with His people.
When we look at this sinful world and the people who populate it, it's a great mystery why He would want to live with us.
Yet, He clearly did at His incarnation (Jn. 1:14), and for the rest of His physical life until after the cross and His resurrection, He ascended back to the Father and now sits on His throne at the right hand of God. (Mk. 16:19)
And even before God came in physical form (Col. 1:15), He made Himself apparent in different forms of His glory.
The word Shekinah (Hb.) means "the dwelling." A term that describes God's literal, physical presence with His people prior to coming as Messiah (Ex. 25:8, 1 Kg. 6:13). God manifested Himself in a pillar of cloud and fire to His people during their flight from Egypt:
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.
And as the Angel of God:
And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.
It was God's presence in the "Shekinah Glory" that caused Israel to fear and believe:
Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses.
During Israel's 40-year journey through the wilderness, because they had sinned and angered God (Num. 13, 14), He still manifested His presence:
- At the "Tent of Meeting." (Ex. 33:7-10)
- At the giving of the Law. (Ex. 34:5)
- At the completion of the tabernacle. (Ex. 40:34)
And God filled the tabernacle:
Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Then when King Solomon completed and dedicated the Lord's temple in Jerusalem, God's glory rested in it:
...indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying: "For He is good, For His mercy endures forever," that the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.
(2 Chron. 5:13-14)
The Shekinah glory that had led God's people from Egypt, through the wilderness and into the Promised Land came to rest in the temple on Mt. Moriah.
The temple, like the tabernacle, would have been just another place built by man, but it was God's presence that made it holy.
But unfortunately, the glory of God left the temple through the Eastern Gate when Israel sinned and God brought judgment through the Babylonians in 586 BC. (Eze. 10:18-19)
His visible presence, in the form of the infant Christ, would not return to the temple for almost 600 years. (Lk. 2:21-39)
But one wonderful night God would again dwell with man, being born of the virgin Mary in Bethlehem.
At His birth, the "heavenly host" would proclaim:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
From His birth, Jesus is He:
...who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
For God had taken on flesh and dwelt with us (Jn. 1:1, 14), He would grow from the Babe to the Man on the cross, fulfilling His plan to save us from sin and perdition through His sacrificial atonement. (Jn. 10:9-11)
The propitiation that turned away God's righteous judgment from sinners like we.
And by His death and resurrection, the Scriptures were fulfilled:
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
One day, the glorified Christ will return (Jn. 14:1-3), not as "The Lamb of God," but as the "Lion of the tribe of Judah" to rule and reign in the same Jerusalem, dwelling with us forever!
"Immanuel, God with us!"
III. Immanuel, God's Purpose
The reason Christ became Immanuel, God with Us, at His first advent, is perfect and simple:
God came to be with us, so that we might go to be with Him.
And the reason He will return (second advent) is to bring us back to Him:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Our God is not a detached, impersonal God who created the universe and left us to our devises as the deist's believe.
He is personal and relational, or He wouldn't have gone to the cross for us, and made a place where He can dwell with us.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."
But, unfortunately, there was a problem--sin. We refused to trust, love and obey Him. In the garden, our parents disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree bringing death, physical and spiritual. (Gen. 2:16-17)
The relationship where we dwelt and walked with God, "in the cool of the day" was broken, and we were banished from the garden and God's presence. (Gen. 3:22-24)
The relationship where we could truly say: Immanuel, God with us, was lost for a time.
We had lost the "fullness of joy" (Ps. 16:11) that being close to God's presence had allowed.
We were now separated from God's presence by sin, and instead of joy in Him we had guilt and fear of Him.
We know God is angry with our sin, and we think He is angry with us:
You, Yourself, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry?
As well He should be, but He is God:
And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,...
God hates our sin, but not us. Our transgressions offend Him, it is our iniquity that separates us from Him. (Isa. 59:1-3)
We should never rest easily with this truth, because if we die in this "separation" from God's presence we will be eternally damned and destroyed.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
But this does not have to be, the good news of Jesus Christ is that God, through Christ, has made The Way to take away our sin and reconcile us back to Himself!
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
God had this very plan in His love for us from the second we failed. (Gen. 3:15)
This plan was fulfilled on the cross by God's son, our Savior, Immanuel, God with us. (Matt. 1:23)
...that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.....For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
(2 Cor. 5:19, 21)
This is the real "Reason for the Season," why we celebrate Christ's birth, that He came to die for us.
Because of Christ's substitutionary death for us, His resurrection and ascension into heaven, we now have a restored relationship with the Father.
And as proof of that restored relationship, we have the indwelling of His Holy Spirit:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Immanuel, God with us!
Will we again dwell with him, in His glorious and physical presence?
Absolutely! God's plan has always been that we should dwell with Him in eternity.
God's ultimate Immanuel purpose will be fulfilled when the Lord Jesus returns.
After Christ reigns on earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:6), He will present the kingdom to God the Father. (1 Cor. 15:24)
Then both He and the Father will again dwell with God's people:
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (Rev. 21:3)
There will be no sin or brokenness between God and His children; we will see Him clearly. (1 Cor. 13:12)
Illuminated by His light:
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
Sin, and its consequences, will no longer hinder our relationship with God:
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
So, what will it be like to dwell with Him?
We will have exceeding joy and gladness. (Ps. 21:6, Jude 24)
We will enter His presence with thanksgiving and singing. (Ps. 95:2, 100:2)
And we will cast our crowns at His feet, worshipping Him, "That no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Cor. 1:29, Rev. 4:10, 5:14)
Truly, then, it will be:
Immanuel, God with us!
The Reason for the season!