“Emmanuel” – This name for God is always popular around Christmas because it means, “God with us.” It makes sense that people would remember Him with this name during this time of year since Christmas is a celebration of Jesus coming to earth – God being present with us.
I’ve been studying Joshua quite a bit lately, and there’s this obscure little passage in Joshua 5:13. Joshua is about to lead Israel into the battle of Jericho and he comes across what he thinks is a man in the desert with a drawn sword. Joshua asks if he is “for us or against us.” Can you hear it? Joshua wants to know if He is with them. (Remember: “Emmanuel”means “God with us”) Revealing Himself as the “commander of the Lord’s army,” He answers saying he is not with him or against him, but that Joshua is on holy ground. Joshua immediately begins to worship, and the commander of the Lord’s army begins to give Joshua the details of how to take Jericho. The whole story is tied to Moses’ experience with the burning bush (even some of the same language is used – “take off shoes” “holy ground”) – anyway, it’s about God calling a man to follow him.
Ultimately, it’s sort of like Joshua was asking the wrong question. The right question to ask God is not “Are you for us?” but “Are we with You?” I wonder if we’ve been missing something at Christmas. Yes, it’s important to recognize “Emmanuel” – that “God is with us.” But what about the other question? – “Are we with God?” It’s the difference between asking Him to bless the things I’m involved in as opposed to me getting involved in the things He is blessing – His work. Do I serve God or is He here to serve me? I can’t speak for you, but I know in my life, God has proven Himself to be “with me” over and over again. On the other hand, I’ve failed to be “with Him” over and over again too. Emmanuel is consistently Emmanuel – always “God with us.” I’m not very consistent.
Like Joshua, I believe we are being called. God is calling us to join Him, to follow Him, to be “with Him.” Maybe the most important thing is for me to work for that.
Emmanuel is a great reminder of God’s faithfulness, but it also makes me recognize my own failures. My bride is a good example – the more she loves me, the more I realize I desire to do things for her. Her love inspires me to love her more. Emmanuel inspires me to love Him more because I recognize how amazing He truly is!
Prayer: Lord You are consistently, always, faithfully “Emmanuel.” Help me to be “with You” too.