1. The “Immanuel” passages. The Isaiah passages are set in the context of God’s sign to Israel of hope of deliverance at a time when enemies threatened to take Jerusalem. Thexseventh ch. of Isaiah states that in the days of Ahaz, the kings of Judah, Syria and Ephraim (northern Israel) were in league to capture Judah. Ahaz was frightened and God sent Isaiah to assure the wicked king of God’s deliverance. When God offered a sign, Ahaz refused to ask for one, thus refusing to glorify God. God gave a sign anyway, but not for Ahaz’ benefit. The sign given was for Israel’s benefit (
The name of “Immanuel,” the son born of the virgin, is to be the watchword for God’s people, the word of hope, no matter how desperate conditions become among men. He is the hope because His name means that God is with us. This would indicate that the one born of the virgin is more than man. He is also God.
That this interpretation is correct from the Biblical standpoint is made quite clear in the Matthew passage which states that the birth of Jesus by the Virgin Mary, fulfills this prophesy from Isaiah (
2. The beginning of the concept of “God with us.”The prophecy in
One day, when Moses was about eighty years old, God confronted him in a burning bush as he wandered on the hills of the Sinai mountains. He gave to Moses a great commission, to lead the Israelite slaves out of Egypt into the land of Canaan. Canaan was then held by various peoples who would have to be driven out.
Understandably Moses felt unequal to such a task and said so. God’s answer was the beginning of God’s revelation of His presence with His people.
First, God said in answer to Moses’ question, “Who am I?” (
Moses then asked what he should give as the name of the God who is with us (
This practice is followed in the NT where passages quoted from the OT which have the personal name of God, יהוה, H3378, are tr. by the Gr., κύριος, G3261, Lord.
3. The relationship between Yahweh and the concept of “God with His people.”The clear relationship between the personal name of God, יהוה, H3378, (Yahweh) and the concept of “God with His people,” can be easily and clearly demonstrated by a study of those passages in which the concept of “God with” His people occurs.
The preposition עִם, H6640, (“with”) in the Heb. occurs at least eighty-nine times in the OT in contexts which indicate God’s presence with His people. Either the object of the preposition is named specifically or in conjunction with some pronoun such as: with me, with you, with him, with us, with them. In all but nine of these passages, the personal name of God יהוה, H3378, occurs as the one who is with His people.
In most passages where the name יהוה, H3378, does not occur, there is clearly a good reason. An instance would be when Pharaoh claims that God is with him (
The other passages chiefly concern Jacob, who was before Moses. The revelation of Moses not having yet been given, he spoke quite often of God’s being with him, not using the personal name of God (
In the overwhelming number of passages, then, where God’s people individually or collectively are assured of God’s presence, i.e. “God with &--;——” the personal name of God, יהוה, H3378, is there.
4. The development of the concept in the OT. The concept does occur in certain passages in connection with the patriarchs. This constitutes a problem in the light of the above reference to Jacob but one must remember that Moses is the author of these passages. We can see that since he knew God as Yahweh, he would understand that same Yahweh to be the One who dealt with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though they did not actually know God by that name. (Again see
Once Yahweh is used in connection with the concept of “God with” in speaking of Abraham (
Then after another lapse of time Yahweh is said to be with Asa (
In a more general sense Yahweh is said to be with “the good” (2 Chron 19:12); the believer when he calls on God (
From the above passages it is clear that Yahweh is with His people who trust in Him, from the time of the establishing of the covenant with Abraham until the end of the OT. Those who walk closely with Him in life are more frequently reminded of this fact.
5. The meaning of the concept to God’s people
a. The covenant and God’s presence. Clearly, the covenant God made with His people is involved in the concept of Immanuel; i.e. God with His people (
Secondly, it means that they need not fear evil or be dismayed (
In the third place, they learn that if Yahweh is with them, they lack nothing (
The concept then will bring to them peace (
The concept of God with His people is the great distinguishing mark between Israel and the rest of mankind (
The OT then is replete with the concept of Yahweh with His people and with all the benefits that accrue to them by this great covenant. The Immanuel passages of
6. The concept of “God with us” in the NT. It is then quite proper to expect that in the NT the coming of Christ is seen as the fulfillment to the utmost of the promise of God to be with His people.
It has been noted already that at His birth, Jesus was shown to be Immanuel (
a. In Jesus’ earthly life. John, the apostle, develops this concept more exhaustively than any other writer of the NT. Nicodemus, he records, believed that God was with Jesus (
b. The continuing presence of Christ with His Church. Jesus, before His ascension, taught His disciples that His leaving them in the flesh would make it possible for His Spirit to be with them forever (
c. Christ with us forever. When Jesus was on earth, He prayed that the believers should be with Him forever (
The term “Immanuel” is directly related to the Biblical doctrine of the presence of God with His people, so clearly promised in
Bibliography W. DeBurgh, The Messianic Prophecies of Isaiah (1863), 41-78; W. Arnold, “The Divine Name in