Posts Tagged With: God with us

A Divine Name That Says a Lot (Isaiah 9:6-7)

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

“Adoration of the Shepherds,” by Gerard van Honthorst (1592-1656), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

We wait expectantly. With Christmas less than a week away, children await the coming of Santa Claus. Older children and adults await the holiday celebrations, the presents, and the family gatherings. Some are just waiting for the intense activity to end. We are all looking forward to something.

The ancient Jews also waited expectantly. More than 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of a Messiah who would save Israel. After centuries of exile, followed by domination by the global empires of Greece and Rome, the Jewish people were eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promises and their hopes and dreams.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus fulfilled two prophetic names in chapters 7 and 9 of Isaiah. Isaiah 7:14 foretold the birth of a child known as “Immanuel,” meaning “God-with-us”:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Matthew 1:22-23 tells us that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when He was born to His virgin mother, Mary. When Jesus was conceived in her womb, God joined us; Jesus was fully human, yet fully divine. God was with humanity in the flesh and, He lived His life as one of us.

Isaiah 9:6 gives another name for the coming Messianic king from the line of David: “Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom,” translated as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” in the NASB. This long name says a lot. [“Abi-ad” can be translated either as “Eternal Father” or “my Father is (the) eternal (one).” This verse does not contradict the historic Christian belief that God the Father and God the Son are distinct Persons within the Trinity.]

This name describes the God we worship. This is the essence of Who Jesus is and what He means to us. Although no New Testament passage explicitly says that Isaiah 9:6-7 is about Jesus, chapters 1 and 2 of Luke mention several of these attributes when reporting His birth.

He is a Wonderful (marvelous, miraculous) Counselor or guide. We can come to Him with our doubts, fears, uncertainty, worries, etc. His wisdom is beyond our comprehension. He will lead and guide us.

Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.

He is the Mighty God of infinite strength and power. He created all things. No problem or circumstance is beyond His control. Martin Luther translated this phrase as “Held,” or in English “hero.” Pick your favorite superhero: Superman, Captain Marvel, Spider-man, etc. Their superpowers are no match for the power of our Mighty God, Jesus Christ.

Our God is the Eternal Father. He has always been, and He will always be. He will always love and preserve us. Jesus told His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He will not leave; He will not quit; He will not cease to exist. He is alive forever, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Finally, Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Biblical peace—shalom in Hebrew—is not the absence of war or hardship. It is the presence of God amid hard times. No matter what comes, God is with us. Jesus brings His peace into our hearts and minds as we put our trust in Him.

God’s answer to the turmoil of ancient Israel and the oppression of first-century Jews was the birth of a child. The answer to all of mankind’s hopes and the Savior of humanity came as a child, died as a man, but lives as both God and man, as God with us always. He brings us His wonderful counsel, infinite power and might, everlasting Fatherly love, and His peace that surpasses all comprehension. I pray that you may experience His presence not just around Christmas but throughout the year.

Which prophetic name of Christ is most meaningful to you? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, deity of Christ, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Holy Name of Jesus

“‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel’
(which means, God with us).” (Matthew 2:21-23, ESV).

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (Luke 2:21, ESV).

256px-ichthys-svg

The Greek letters in the familiar “ichthys” symbol represent Jesus’ name and titles: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”

Today (January 1) is New Year’s Day. We think of it as a day for new beginnings, a chance to make resolutions to start anew in different areas of our lives. On some church calendars (e.g., in the Book of Common Prayer), it is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Since it is the eighth day since we celebrated our Savior’s birth, we commemorate the day that He was circumcised and His name became “official.”

 

Names matter. They are perhaps the most important part of our identity. If you want to insult somebody effectively and quickly, make fun of their name. Parents usually give much thought to the names for their children. We may name our children after family members, thereby emphasizing the link to previous generations; or, we may name our children after someone we admire (perhaps a hero of the Bible, or a historical figure we respect). We do not name our children after someone whom we dislike or disrespect (I do not know too many people named “Adolf” these days, thanks to one particular scoundrel).

It is thus important to consider the significance of the name of Jesus. His name tells us who He is and why He came into the world. It is the English transliteration of His Hebrew name, “Yeshua,” which means “The Lord is salvation.” He came, first and foremost, to “save his people from their sins,” as the angel told Joseph.

This is who He is, what He does, and what we can expect from Him. Jesus came to save us from our sins. His entire life—including His teaching ministry as well as His death and resurrection—was designed to save us from the kingdom of sin and darkness and bring us into the kingdom of God.

In addition to this name above all names (Philippians 2:9-10), the Bible ascribes numerous titles to Jesus: Immanuel, Son of God, Lamb of God, Prince of Peace, etc. If you are interested in an in-depth study of the names and titles of Jesus, an extensive podcast series by theologian Thomas Hopko is available here.

Much has been written about the power of Jesus’ name and the promises in His name. Our eternal condition is closely tied to His name: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). Someday, every sentient creature (including every demon in hell, every atheist, and every Islamic terrorist) will bow before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The authority of that name is undeniable, and someday all mankind will acknowledge that.

Those who acknowledge the authority of Jesus’ name can be assured that He will be faithful to His promises. Jesus said, “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24).

This does not mean (as some misguided Bible teachers claim) that we can force God to give us something simply by ending our prayers with the phrase, “in Jesus’ name.” His Holy Name reflects His authority and power, much as a police officer’s badge reflects his authority to demand that you stop driving and present your license and registration. We do not try to exercise authority over God; rather, we acknowledge Jesus’ authority over our lives and all creation, and on the basis of that authority, we pray with confidence that God will do exactly what He promises. In John 14:13-14, Jesus clearly says that our prayers in His name will be answered so that “the Father may be glorified in the Son.” We pray in Jesus’ name to fulfill God’s will, not to baptize His will into our will or subjugate God to our desires.

The name of Jesus is the springboard to the greatest “new beginning” of all. God’s blessings and promises are intertwined with the name, authority, and character of Jesus, our Savior: the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; the God who is always with us. May 2017 be a year in which we all gain a greater appreciation and awareness of who Jesus is and what He seeks to do in our lives.

This post copyright © 2017 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, Scripture Sabbath | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God With Us, and Us With God

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us'” (Matthew 1:22-23, NASB).

Seven days into the New Year, and I am finally writing my first new blog post of the year. I wish I could find more time to write, but other responsibilities crop up. My last post was Part II of my series, “Modern-Day Elijahs.” That series may be delayed, but it has not been cancelled: the rest of the series is in the works.

Many people view the new year as the chance to make a fresh start. Some people make “New Year’s Resolutions.” On January 1, my Facebook feed reminded me that, about six years ago, I resolved to publish a book by the end of the year. It did not happen: Since then, my only New Year’s resolution is to avoid making New Year’s resolutions. Every now and then, I will take some time for self-examination, seeing where my life is and how my relationship with Christ is developing. While that often occurs around the changing of the years, it is not limited to that.

Still, it is hard to avoid making new starts with a new year. At work, we begin establishing goals for the new year. Why? Because it is January. In fact, part of the reason I took a few minutes to write tonight is because I signed up for an online course, “Blogging 101,” which offered the opportunity to kick-start a year of writing. Once again, I think there is only one reason why the organizers thought now would be a good time to have this course: It’s January.

For many Americans, New Year’s Day signals the end of the “holiday season,” which begins around Thanksgiving and climaxes on Christmas. However, the Christmas season proper does not end until Epiphany (January 6), ending the “12 days of Christmas.”

In some ways, this makes it a fitting time to consider ways that your life can change in the coming months and year. We commemorate a time when God became human, so that He could redeem us and restore us.

Over the last two weeks, I have been brought back to the verse at the top of this post several times. Matthew’s Gospel begins with the proclamation that Mary’s baby would be Immanuel, God-with-us. It ends with Jesus’ promise that He will remain with us, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He came to become a man, to live among us, so that we could abide with Him and His Father forever. He promised to stay with us. The only question that remains is this: Will we stay with Him?

Jesus is “God-with-us.” My mission in 2016 is to be “Mike-with-God.” I hope to write more in 2016. I would love to finally publish that book. I have other goals and dreams for the coming year. However, all of that depends on where God leads me. If I remain “Mike-with-God,” I can be certain that “God-with-us” will lead me to accomplish His perfect will.

This post copyright © 2016 Michael E.
Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Christian Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: