God is with us - 8 September 2020

By Ben Fourie

We find the name Immanuel in only three verses in the Bible, twice in the book of Isaiah, and in this instance, in the Gospel according to Matthew, but the meaning of the name can be found everywhere in the Bible – God is with us. The original Hebrew way of writing Immanuel can be broken up into two parts: Immanu – meaning with us and El – meaning God. Isaiah’s prophesy about the birth of Immanuel was during the rule of King Ahaz in Judah. At that time Judah was in great danger.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel made a pact with the king of Syria to wage war against Judah. We read about it in the second book of Kings, chapter 16. God then made a promise, as recorded in Isaiah 7:14 that He would be with them and they should not be afraid of what would happen. The sign of this promise was that within a short period of time, a boy would be born. He would be called Immanuel as a sign that God would be with Judah. We do not hear more about the birth of this child, but history tells us that the war never took place and Judah was safe.

More than 700 years later, the second Immanuel was born, but He was not to be just a sign that God would be with His people. By his life on earth, his death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, he embodied the full presence of God. This Immanuel made the story of how God intervenes in the lives of people, a reality. In Him, and through Him, we experience “God is with us” in all that happens to us.

All of us probably have a story to tell about an event where we had experienced the very presence of God in a special way. Maybe it would be good to share some of these stories. Please feel welcome to give me feedback about such an event.

I also want to share a story about His presence with you, but it is not a personal story. It is the story of how God has been with the Bible Society of South Africa for the past 200 years. On 23 August 2020, we celebrated our 200th birthday with the theme, The Bible: Hope for all. These past 200 years, the Bible Society has experienced “God is with us” in all it has done to make sure that every South African can share in the promise of hope.

Prayer: We thank you, Lord, that we will never be without you and never feel lonely again as you have promised to be our Immanuel.

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