God With Us.

Not God up there somewhere — but God who lives here — with us — in our space.

God who came to earth and lived in a body right here on our planet so that we could live with Him all the time - then and now and forever.

But the story of how we first heard this name Immanuel is not very Christmasy. The promise of Immanuel was given to a horribly rebellious and selfish king named Ahaz, through the prophet Isaiah. (
Isaiah 7:14) Ahaz's story is hard and if it would have been up to me, I would have chosen someone nicer to receive this prophecy. Someone who was at least trying to love God and do what He wanted.

Truthfully, this story is a little unsettling. God coming to earth as a baby in manger to grow up and purchase our salvation is the climax of God's story. It feels like it should have been wrapped in prettier paper. Announced to someone who longed for the Messiah, not to someone who had no idea what the prophet was talking about and didn't care anyway.

Another confusing thing about this story is that the conversation between Ahaz and Isaiah appears to have been referring to a specific time and place: Jerusalem circa 732 BC. It is hard to tell that they were talking about a future promise. Some commentators think there were two fulfillments of the message Isaiah gave to Ahaz - one that was fulfilled in their lifetimes, and the other bigger fulfillment when Jesus was born.

Either way, the angel made it absolutely clear when He spoke to Joseph that this prophecy is about Jesus. (
Matthew 1:20-23)

And I want to know the real stories behind the Names of God. Even the ones that I wish were easier.

As I have slogged through this story, studying and reading and talking to friends about why this Christmas card prophecy came to a king like Ahaz, I am left with a couple of thoughts:

1. God doesn't come to us because we are good - He comes to us because He wants to.

2. God tells His story with people who believe in Him and people who don't. If He waited for people to be 'fully devoted followers" before casting them as characters in His story — it would be a whole different story.

Click on a link below or on the tab above to get started:

Immanuel: The Story Behind the Name

Immanuel: Going Deeper

Jesus and Immanuel

Immanuel and Our Stories