Emmanuel: God in our Midst

by Mamdouh Riad on December 20, 2022

Emmanuel: God in Our Midst
By Mamdouh Riad

As westerners who view things from an individualistic lens, we typically understand Matthew 1:23 to mean that God is with each one of us individually, and this is certainly true. 

However, there is another very significant meaning here that must not be  missed, that is actually more relevant to the original context of this verse: God is with us collectivelydwelling with us

The original prophetic reference to Emmanuel that Matthew is quoting is found in Isaiah 7:14.  At that time, Judah was under attack by two kings, and King Ahaz, the king of Judah, felt very threatened:

“Now it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it…so his heart and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the woods are moved with the wind.” (Isaiah 7:1.2)

The Lord sent Isaiah with an encouraging prophetic word to King Ahaz, assuring him that He will protect Judah from this threat:

“It shall not stand, nor shall it come to pass..” (Isaiah 7:7)

Furthermore, the Lord gave him a sign that He is with Judah (God with us):

 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel…" 
(Isaiah 7:14)

The Emmanuel reference in Isaiah that Matthew quoted meant that God was with His people Judah (corporately) in their crisis. That He was in their midst. This was Isaiah’s prophetic word to King Ahaz.

 Within the name of Jesus (Emmanuel) in and of itself, is embedded the idea that with the dawn of the New Testament, God will dwell among His people corporately instead of dwelling in the physical temple of the Old Testament. 

"YOU (plural) are the temple of the Living God.." (2 Cor 6:16).

Jesus is the ultimate manifest presence of God: 

“God was manifested in the flesh...” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Before He left the disciples to go to the cross, He told them,” I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

Jesus was telling the disciples that they were orphans without His presence. 

So are we. 

This is one of the main reasons Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)

The Comforter wasn’t sent to primarily comfort the disciples in their temporal sorrows, but from the lack of Jesus’ presence after He went to the cross:

“He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans..” (John 14:17-18)

“He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:15)

The presence of God in our midst is our inheritance and is what makes us His people: 

“What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth, other than your Presence?” (Exodus 33:16)

Thank you, Lord, for Emmanuel. Thank you Jesus because we (plural) are your dwelling place. We are your resting place.

"Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool, what kind of a house will YOU (plural) build for Me, or where is the place of My rest?" (Acts 7:49)

"In whom the whole building, being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you (plural) are also being built together for a dwelling place of God (The Manifest presence of God) in the Spirit." (Ephesians 2:21,22)