“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23 NKJV).
God entered human time, at a specific point in history, in a particular space, within a specific culture, at Christmas.
When seen within its world, the Advent story has a different look and feel from how we tend to envision it. It certainly is foreign to the modern spirit of Christmas. Yet, when we view it within its historical and cultural context, we find a world that many felt was in chaos.
God’s people yearned for salvation. They earnestly longed for His redemption. God sent His Son into a chaotic and upside-down world. A world where evil reigned in power, and God’s chosen people found themselves enslaved to that power.
Advent communicates a hope realized, but not yet concluded. It calls upon people to submit to God’s will, to obey, to care for those in need. To raise our eyes beyond our own circumstances and look to God’s redemption of His people.
It reminds us that God is faithful to His promises, and so we must wait. We have to be patient. It conveys that God comes to us in the most common and ordinary moments of our lives, even in the birth of a child. It also points to the babe born in Bethlehem as proof that God’s reign is dawning upon the world.
And, as we follow that babe into His adult life, we understand that He calls us to obediently submit to God’s rule and reign in our lives. He invites us to return to God and take part in embodying His message and furthering God’s kingdom.
That is what Christmas means for us. Because of the child born in Bethlehem, we can trust that God is not far away; He is near. He is Immanuel—God with us. We can rediscover that He is both with us and for us; therefore, we can have hope in His redemption.
May you experience God’s presence and nearness like never before on this sacred day as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Messiah.
Get your free copy of CBN Israel’s Christmas devotional, Immanuel: God With Us.