Monday, December 5, 2016

Matthew 1:23 - Immanuel Means "God is With Us"

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel;" which is, being interpreted, "God with us." -- Matthew 1:23, World English Bible version
Matthew quotes Isaiah and states that Jesus would be called "Immanuel", "God with us". (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14; 8:8) But is this supposed to mean that Jesus is Jehovah? Such is reading into this an extra-Biblical concept. It is doubtful that anyone would even think such a thing from this titular name if it were not for a prevailing theory that Jesus was actually an incarnation of Jehovah himself. The scripture does not say, as many would wish it to say, that Jesus is God with us; rather it says "they shall call his name Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, 'God with us.' " We should note that the Messiah's personal name as given to him by his Father is "Jesus" (Yahshua), not Immanuel. Immanuel is a titular "name," not his personal name. The name "Immanuel" is to be understood in the light of Acts 10:38; "How God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." The scripture does not say that Jesus was God Almighty in the flesh, but that God Almighty was with Jesus, thus "God" who was with Jesus is being spoken of as one person; Jesus is not God Almighty who was with him.
If one chooses to use the logic of those wish to read the scripture as saying that Jesus was God Almighty in the flesh, then consider the name "Jehu". In Hebrew, this name means "He is Yah" or "Yah is He." Does that mean the man Jehu is, in reality, Jehovah? Likewise with the name Eliathath, which means "God has come". Are we to think that Eliathath is God Almighty because of the name given to him? Other names could also be cited that could be interpreted in some manner that would make the bearer of the name Jehovah, if one were follow the same logic as many would apply to Matthew 1:23.
God, being with Jesus, is with his people through Jesus. Having the titular name Immanuel, signifying that God is with his people, does not mean that Jesus is God Almighty.
By this titular name Jesus' office as Jehovah's representative is indicated -- Jesus comes in the name of and speaks on behalf of his God, Jehovah (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Matthew 23:39; Mark 11:9,10; Luke 13:35; John 3:2,17,32-35; 4:34; 5:19,30,36,43; 6:57; 7:16,28; 8:26,28,38; 10:25; 12:49,50; 14:10; 15:15; 17:8,26; 20:17; Acts 2:22,34-36; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 11:31; Colossians 1:3,15; 2:9-12; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1:1); this view is corroborated absolutely by the Apostle Paul, who after quoting from Old Testament prophecies and pointing to their fulfilment in the destroying of Adamic death during the Millennium says -- "Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory [deliverance -- triumph] through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57) As such a representative Jesus is the proof that God is on our side, that God will deliver his church and that God will deliver the world of mankind by him.
The following scriptures, taken from the King James Version of the Bible, give examples of this usage (The Holy Name, Jehovah, supplied by us at the appropriate places where it appears in the Hebrew):
Exodus 10:10: And he said unto them, Let [Jehovah] be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you.
Deuteronomy 20:4 For [Jehovah] your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
Numbers 14:9: Only rebel not ye against [Jehovah], neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and [Jehovah] is with us: fear them not.
Numbers 14:43: For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from [Jehovah], therefore [Jehovah] will not be with you.
Judges 6:13: And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if [Jehovah] be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not [Jehovah] bring us up from Egypt? but now [Jehovah] hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.
Ruth 2:4: And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, [Jehovah] be with you. And they answered him, [Jehovah] bless thee.
1 Chronicles 22:17,18: David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, Is not [Jehovah] your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side? for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before [Jehovah], and before his people.
2 Chronicles 13:12: And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the [Jehovah] God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.
2 Chronicles 15:2: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; [Jehovah] is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.
2 Chronicles 20:17: Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of [Jehovah] with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for [Jehovah] will be with you.
2 Chronicles 32:8: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is [Jehovah] our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
2 Kings 8:57: [Jehovah] our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
Isaiah 8:10: Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us.
Psalm 46:7: [Jehovah] of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Psalm 46:11: [Jehovah] of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Jeremiah 42:11: Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith [Jehovah]: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.
Amos 5:14: Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so [Jehovah], the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.
Haggai 1:13: Then spake Haggai [Jehovah]'s messenger in [Jehovah]'s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith [Jehovah].
Haggai 2:4: Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith [Jehovah]; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith [Jehovah], and work: for I am with you, saith [Jehovah] of hosts:
Philippians 4:9: Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
2 Thessalonians 3:16: Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
The following are the words of P. L. Read, taken from Herald of Christ's Kingdom, November/December, 1997 - words in brackets are added by us.
This is the great message of the New Testament to the church, and eventually to the world: Emmanuel, God with us. God was with his ancient people, and spoke to them often and unmistakably by the mouth of his angels and his prophets. He was there in the burning bush, in the Shekinah of the tabernacle, and in the pillar of cloud and fire, as well as in the angel of Jehovah, whom many believe was the pre-human Logos. But he came into new and closer relationship when he sent his Son, and when the mighty Logos became flesh. Jesus Christ was "God made manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16); he was so true and accurate a manifestation of God, so at one with the Father (in purpose and in spirit-not in person [or being]) that he could truthfully say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). This was a fulfillment of the prophecy, "God with us," indeed-it was the fulfillment before which the earlier one fades into relative insignificance.
"God is with us" in the life of the church, for Jesus laid its foundations in his blood, and became himself its cornerstone, and the bishop of our souls. "God is with us" in our personal experiences, or Christ Jesus is our brother and Savior, our refuge under the consciousness of sin, our strength in temptation, a very present help in trouble. Therefore with the psalmist we say, "We will not fear," whatever may be our present lot, and whatever may befall us. "God is with us" under our present burden and in the unknown events of the future. "God is with us" in life, in death, in time, and in eternity.
God is with us as represented in Jesus just as God was with the faithful ones of old.
Something else we might note is that Isaiah's prophecy possibly had its first fulfillment in one of Isaiah's sons, and, of course, Isaiah's son was not Jehovah. Note the following:
In the Old Testament God's presence with his people Israel was particularly evident in the tabernacle (Exod 25:8), but the glory that filled the tabernacle was surpassed by the personal presence of God the Son as he revealed the Father during his ministry on earth. Christ's glory was revealed through the miracles he performed (John 2:11).
The birth of Immanuel to the virgin Mary fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, the sign given to Ahaz about seven hundred years earlier. At that time the wicked Ahaz ignored Isaiah's advice and appealed to the king of Assyria for help in a political crisis. Both the context of Isaiah 7 and the use of "Immanuel" two more times in chapter 8 (vv. 8, 10) raise the distinct possibility that the sign had a near fulfillment that affected Ahaz directly. Such a possibility is supported by the two verses immediately after 7:14 that tell us that the boy will still be young when Ahaz's enemies-the kings of Samaria and Damascus-will lose their power (a prediction fulfilled in 732 b.c.). The birth of a boy who would serve as a sign to Ahaz appears to be closely linked to the birth of Isaiah's son Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz in 8:1-4. Both Immanuel in 7:15-16 and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz in 8:4 are young children when Damascus and Samaria collapse. And in 8:8 the two boys may be identified as Isaiah addresses Immanuel as if he were already present in Jerusalem. Verse 10 contains another occurrence of "Immanuel" in the words "God is with us." The prophet was challenging Ahaz to trust God, who was "with" his people just as he had promised to be with them constantly. In Numbers 14:9 Joshua and Caleb had urged the Israelites to acknowledge that the Lord was with them and to begin the conquest of Canaan, but just like Ahaz the people chose the path of unbelief with its tragic consequences. An earlier king of Judah, Abijah, believed that God was with his people as they faced the numerically superior army of Jeroboam. Abijah's faith was honored as the Lord gave him a resounding victory (2 Chron 13:12-15). -- Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Immanuel'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".
If "Immanuel" was another name for Isaiah's son, the use of "virgin" for Isaiah's wife refers to the time when she was his fiance. The sign of Isaiah 7:14 constitutes a blessing on an upcoming marriage, predicting that a virgin who was engaged to be married would be able to have a child early in the marriage. Unlike Mary she was not a virgin after she became pregnant. It is likely that Isaiah's marriage to a prophetess is in fact briefly described in 8:1-3. Matthew's use of this verse was extraordinarily appropriate in light of Mary's unique virginity and the incarnation of Jesus, who was God in the flesh. Matthew ends his Gospel with Jesus' own assurance to his disciples that he was Immanuel: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (28:20).
Elwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Immanuel'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".
Of course, we do not agree with the above that describes Jesus as "God the Son", but we quote this only to show that the name Immanuel does not necessarily mean that the bearer of the name is God Almighty. There is therefore no reason to believe that the titular name, Immanuel, meaning "God with us," should be understood to mean that Jesus is God Almighty.
See Also
Reference Works:
Baker's Illustrated Bible Dictionary -- Free Shipping Worldwide!

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