Scripture: Matt 1:18-23

Introductory notes on the text

  • “Jesus” (Heb. Yeshua – “salvation,” from Yehoshua, Joshua – “Yahweh is salvation”)
  • John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know (ginosko) you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Eternal life is to be in relationship with the Father and Son : the triune God.
  • So, to be “with God” and for “God to be with us“ is to experience salvation or
  • Today, we will briefly trace this theme in Genesis and Revelation.

God’s eternal plan

  • Ephesians 1:3-6: The Father “chose us (eklegomai) in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love, having predestined us for adoption to sonship in Jesus Christ.” He chose us to be “before him in love” forever: God with us!

God’s plan unfolded throughout redemptive history

  • The triune God’s eternal plan was first enacted in the Edenic garden-temple, a point of intersection between heaven and earth (Gen 1:26; 3:8). Here God would live and work forever in intimate relationship with both human beings and spiritual beings (angels, cherubs, seraphs, watchers, “sons of God,” “living creatures,” elohim).
  • When humans threw a wrench in the works, God initiated a short-term fix (Gen 3:21) and a long-term solution (Gen 3:15). He then exiled them from the garden-temple (Gen 3:22-24). God was unwavering in his commitment to his plan of eternal face-to-face intimacy.
  • When humans grew more corrupt through the enticement of certain “sons of God” (spiritual beings), God used the flood to give humanity a fresh start (Gen 6:1-22). After the flood, when humans defied God and built the Ziggurat of Babel (Gen 11:1-4), God scattered them (a form of exile). He then called an elderly couple from southern Iraq to become a people group exclusively dedicated to Yahweh (Gen 12:1-3; 18:18-19). God met personally with Abraham on multiple occasions and called him his friend (Isa 41:8; James 2:23). He did the same with Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, et al. Note again: God never deviated from his plan to live in eternal face-to-face fellowship with the humans he had made.
  • Throughout the OT, the descendants of Abraham enjoyed a unique status among the nations. God had established a special relationship with Israel, which was to be a showcase to the Nations of what human-divine covenant relationship could look like (Dt 4:6). At the center of their covenant life with God was “Immanuel” – God with us, dwelling at heart of the nation was the sacred Tent and later Temple, a representation of the garden-temple. Sacrifices were offered to ritually purify them to share sacred space with God. The Torah was instruction on living a “God-with-us” life.
  • How did Israel do at its job of showcasing their unique covenant relationship with God? Sometimes, pretty good. Other times, God would have to exile them from the land (722 BC, 586 BC). But note again: God never gave up on his plan: he continued to show mercy, bring them back to the land, renew their hope and offer them relationship with himself.
  • “In the fulness of times” God sent his Son, Jesus—born a Jew, the seed of Abraham, a son of David—to be Immanuel. God is fully present in him, in human flesh, not in a stone building. He is the new and permanent temple (John 2:19; 1 Ptr 2:4). Through saving faith, we are made stones in this new Temple: joined to him, made one with him and each other (1 Cor 3; 6; 1 Ptr 2:4-5). He is also the new, eternal High Priest (He 4:14). Further, he is the new Torah (Jn 14:6).
  • Early in his ministry, Jesus gathered around him a new set of twelve patriarchs, his Apostles. At the end, he deputized and empowered them to be and teach the “God with us” life to the world (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The Church is to be Immanuel.
  • Jesus will return and will set all things right (judge all sin, quarantine all evil, reign in perfect righteousness). The last two chapters of the bible describe an Edenic garden-temple scene In New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-4; 22:1-5).
  • God’s eternal plan to live/work face-to-face is finalized. The incarnation makes all of this possible. It was the means by which God will actualize his plan to dwell with human beings and spiritual beings forever: it’s all because Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us!”
  • Takeaway: Jesus went to incalculable lengths to be “with you.” What lengths do you regularly go to to be “with him?” He says: “Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you!“ (James 4:8).