And you shall call his name Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Today we celebrate the greatest gift we have ever received – the presence of God with us. The ultimate destiny of every life is to live in communion with God. Throughout all of recorded Scripture we’ve seen it weaving – in the garden, covenanting with Abraham, calling out the Israelites, dwelling in tabernacles and temples with the nation of Israel. His promise to be with us is on the lips of every prophet. And then after 400 years of heavenly silence, the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us – the literal reading is “he tabernacles with us”. The immortal God is born, taking on skin and bones and muscles and all the fragility of a helpless baby. On Christmas night, the world received the downpayment of the promise “He will dwell with us” As we’ve seen from the praises this week, this promise has distinct implications for both spiritual and physical realities. When God birthed Himself into our sorrow and muck and sin, He came to deal a deathblow to the forces of evil. The point of His coming was to destroy the hold that sin had on our hearts, to awaken our souls to His grace, and to prepare us for the kingdom of God. Through His life, death, and resurrection He has thrown open the doors of heaven and invites us all to rejoice and trust in His provision and love for us. The Advent we celebrate today secured a right relationship with God and His presence in our heart – it fulfilled everything necessary for spiritual communion with God. But He’s not done yet – He’s promised to reconstruct the universe and to dwell with us physically. The final fulfillment of the promise is what we wait for now as we anticipate the second Advent. Revelation 21 gives us a glimpse of that coming reality when all will be made new in the glorious presence of God.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
This Christmas, may the knowledge that God is with you fill you with peace and comfort, strength to face the coming year, and a desire to know Him who would give up everything for you in a deeper and more satisfying way. Rejoice!! Emmanuel has come and is coming again… for you.
Blessings to you,