John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
We read in Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? In this Psalm we get an insight into the heart of David, we see that he had a deep desire towards pleasing his God. Are you as thirsty for the word of God? Are you thirsty enough to spend time in the word of God? If you truly are thirsty for the word of God, you have been blessed, as we read in Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. When we approach the word of God with a deep desire to hear what He has to say to us, we will be given understanding. 1 Corinthians 2:14 "The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." So the question we need to answer is How thirsty am I? Are you still thirsty for the truth of God's word? Or have you lost your thirst because you have allowed the cares of this world to overtake you, or are you an individual that just sits in church and lets the speaker spoon feed you without taking the time to prove for yourself if what is being presented is really in line with God's word? Are you like the Samaritan woman mentioned in John as to the kind of attitude we need towards the word of God?
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; ( Christ is speaking of the physical water that the women came to the well for)14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him ( a spiritual water which is the word of God) shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (the water Christ is offering us is water that will lead us towards repentance and in receiving the gift of the holy spirit and eternal life, ). Christ was speaking here to a Samaritan to whom the gospel was not being preached to at this time, but to Israel only. But in spite of that fact, she had heard enough (just a few crumbs) to become thirsty for more of Gods words. But unlike the time frame that this Samaritan women lived in, we today do live in a time where the gospel has been made available not only to Israel but to Gentiles as well, it is available to all who what it, (the key word here is wanting it with clean heart.) Once we drink of the gospel, Christ desires for us to stay thirsty for the word of God until his return, for it will not be until that time, when the Kingdom is finally established (on earth) that our complete thirst will be satisfied, as mentioned in Revelation 7: 16-17 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.
There is no price placed on the word of God, we have free access to it.
Lets take a look at what the prophet Isaiah through God said on this topic of what kind of water we should be drinking?
Isaiah 55:1-3 Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? (the question Isaiah is asking us is,where are you getting your information from, that you claim is health to your sole? ) Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to me; hear me, and your soul shall live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the sure mercies of David.
Lets read that again: Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no Money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money, and without price.
What a powerful invitation from the Lord. This invitation goes out to every person on earth because God desires a relationship with everyone. (So let me ask you a personal question, do you put you trust in the promises of politicians, or God, do you put your trust in psychiatrists, or God? Where is your faith being placed, with men or God?)
We read in 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. This verse slaps in the face to those who believe in Predestination, which is the doctrinal teaching that God in His sovereignty chooses only certain individuals to be saved and not others. One must ask and answer the question, if this were so, what is the purpose of teaching the gospel message of salvation to the world? Would that not seem to be a futile endeavor ? Let us rather read what God says regarding this issue rather than trust in the opinion of men.
In Rev 22:17 we read "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. "
What this verse is clearly teaching, is that, we are all given an invitation to "Come" and worship our creator, and not just any god of our choosing. This calling (through the gospel message) from God is an open invitation to anyone who will hear, to come and have a relationship with Him, and only Him. God will not force us to worship him, but He does desire that we all want that.
God tells us through Ezekiel 18:32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live. Did you read that, God is saying that He is not happy with the truth that some will reject Him and lose out on salvation.
1 Timothy 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. The chose is all yours. You either come to Christ willingly or you don't period.
One of the biggest deceptions that has been unleashed on the world today in an attempt to keep people from having a true relationship with our God and Father is the false teaching that, as long as we believe in something we are ok, and no one has the right to impose their views on someone else. But as we have come to understand from the above verses, this is not the case. There is only one way to salvation. We live in a world where it has become socially expectable to hold to the view that truth is subjective and personal. Many don’t take the time to examine the views they hold, ( read article "Examining yourselves") and just except it as truth, after all nobody likes to find out that they are wrong, right?
When it comes to the question of our salvation has it not become acceptable to believe that there is more than one way to get salvation, and to also believe that if anyone holds to the view that there really is only one source of truth, and one way to salvation, than that person is narrow minded. After all, do we really have the right to say that those who believe in Buddha, Krishna, New Age, Gnosticism, are wrong? (according to the word of God these ways do not lead anyone to the true God, our creator, so yes they lead people down the wrong path).
The Gnostic concept of salvation is based on a sort of spiritual do-it-yourself project. Salvation is present in every man and woman, and that salvation is individual. Gnostics do not look to salvation from sin. Gnostics believe that they have secret knowledge about God a it is by having this knowledge an individual becomes qualified to reach a higher plain.
When we take a close and honest look at the many religious views held that are outside the Biblical view, we can see very clearly that they have to one degree or other roots that come from Gnosticism.
The Apostle Paul was well aware of the influence that Gnosticism was having on the people in his time, as well as other religious sects.
We read in 2 Timothy 1: 8-10 " Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose before time began." The words "before time began" is what predestination is all about. God has and is working out a plan from the very beginning of time to establish His Kingdom. Christ was "predestined" to be on earth at the right time. Christ is "predestined" to return to earth at a certain time. Predestination has nothing to do with who will and will not be saved. Salvation comes through the message of the gospel, and not God deciding who will or will not be saved.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him (speaking to Thomas) "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
When it comes to our salvation we only have two chooses to make concerning that statement, is it true or false. If we believe Christ’s statement to be true that there is only one way to salvation, than any one who says differently is speaking a lie, if we believe there is more than one way, than everyone else is telling the truth, and Christ is lying. You be the judge.
What does the word of God say on this matter of how to get to know Him. Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." There are not many ways just one.
In Joshua 6: 14-15 we read "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve to Lord, choose for yourself this day whom you will serve, weather the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua knew who the real God was, and he boldly told the people the truth. As in Joshua’s days where there were many views on salvation, so to today. Which god are we going to serve? The ONE true God, or the god we have made in our image? A good site to read to help you determine the character of False Teachers? CULTWATCH
We are all invited to come to the water, a water that is a cleansing water, (prepares the way, by our repentance. Water in the Bible is often a picture of the new birth.)
Matthew 3:1-3 repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. a water that purifies,(changes our heart, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that would be given) a water that will satisfy our spiritual thirst.(gives us everything we need to have a relationship with God)
Matt 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men by which we must be saved. This verse is talking about Jesus Christ who alone is our redeemer.
When we take a close look at Isaiah 55.1-3 It can be understood very clearly when we compare it with what Jesus said in John.3:3-8 Jesus answered and said to him, (speaking to Nicodemus) "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."
Nicodemus said to Him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit".
Notice what John 3:3,5 that there are two aspects of being born again,we see the kingdom, when we see the Kingdom we make a clear distinction between the world we live in and what God is offering, and we desire to come out of this world and live life by Godly standards rather than worldly standards. we enter the kingdom by how we live our life.
It is hard to enter something if we can’t see, and if we can’t see are we than not blind?
Jesus alluded to Isaiah 55:1 in 1 Corinthians 6: 15-17
We read in John 7:37-38 On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
And in John 4:13-14 where Jesus spoke with the woman at the well saying, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." Unlike physical water, which one must drink again and again, and still get thirsty again the spiritual water that Jesus offers will last forever.
Though it is true that this water is available to everyone, God’s offer is only for sinners. He did not come to this world to save people who think they are righteous, Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them,(in response to a question the scribes and Pharisees asked ) "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance"
Luke 19:10. God cannot and will not save a person who does not see their need for a savior. He will, however, save all of those who see their need for a savior and who will come willingly to Him.
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to me; hear me, and your soul shall live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the sure mercies of David.
In reading this verse of Isaiah 55:1-3 we also notice that we are being offered three things
We are offered Water, It is a picture of the Gospel message; the very message that must be received by faith.
We are offered Wine, wine is often used as a picture of joy, Psalm 104:15. "And wine that makes glad the heart of man" It was used at times of feasting and happy celebrations. Wine is also a picture of the Holy Spirit, Who enters a child of God at the moment of salvation.
1 Pet. 1:8. God doesn’t just save us; He also fills us with His joy. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that gives us peace and comfort.
We are offered Milk, The Word of God. Not only does God give us the water of life that saves us and the Spirit of God that gives us joy; He also gives us the Word of God that helps us grow up strong in the things of God. (If you have not yet read the Armor of God I encourage you to take time in reading it).
The Word is referred to milk, 1 Pet. 2:2; " as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow, thereby" 1 Corinthians 3 :2 " I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able. Hebrews. 5:12-13. " For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe."
Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.
How thirty are you?
May you grow in the grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Is anyone thirsty, this is an invitation to come to Christ. God is calling people from every country and nation through his Son Jesus Christ. Are you thirty? Come to Christ, our savior has invited all that labor and are heavy laden, to come to Him. Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." When it comes to the question of our salvation has it not become acceptable to believe that there is more than one way to get salvation, and to also believe that if anyone holds to the view that there really is only one source of truth, and one way to salvation, than that person is narrow minded.John 7:37-38 On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. ( a false teaching was going around that Christ had already come) 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come (the return of Christ) until the rebellion occurs (apostasy) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
What is this verse talking or teaching to us about (1) words of encouragement to stand firm in the faith (2) a great falling away from the truth or faith is going to happen first, after which (3) the man of lawlessness will be revealed, (4) Christ’s return (5) followed by the gathering of the faithful to Christ. (resurrection)
What than shall we make of this falling away? Let’s first consider this verse in light of what Jesus said about Himself. He told us that He is the way, the truth, and the life; he was able to tell us this because he was the son of God,(not God as many teach falsely) and was speaking truth. So it seems to make perfect sense that this would mean that many will walk away from the true message of the Kingdom that Jesus taught.
To help us identify and stand firm against apostasy, it is important that we understand its various forms and the traits that characterize its doctrines and teachers. As to the forms of apostasy, there are two views: (1) a falling away from key and true doctrines of the Bible into heretical teachings that proclaim to be “the real” Christian doctrine, and (2) a complete renunciation of the Christian faith, which results in a full abandonment of Christ.
The difficulty that comes in understanding how this apostasy is to be fulfillment may not be as clear cut, let me explain what I mean by that. There can be two ways of arriving at an understanding as to how this apostasy might occur, first, does this apostasy come about because many within the church just give up the faith and no longer profess Jesus as Lord, or does it mean that many of the truths that the Apostles taught by fulfilling their commission of going into all the world and preach the gospel will now be ignored, forgotten and replaced with man-made doctrines and doctrine of demons on a worldwide scale. Matthew 24:14 And the gospel of the kingdom of God shall be preached in the whole world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.
If we compare Matthew 24:14 with 2 Thessalonians 2-1:3 it seems that the “end that is to come” spoken of in Matthew is an apostasy from the truth that will take place.
In the beginning, the church of the 1st and 2nd century, Jesus was known as the messenger of God’s word, the only begotten Son of God, (not God the Son) Christ, which means (messiah). That the Father of Jesus is not only his God but our God as well, and that he was subject to his God and did only what God told him to do. We are told in Ephesian 4:4-6 that there in only one God, the Father, Jesus is our only Lord. We are also told that there is only one Faith, one Baptism, and one Spirit. That God the Father provided salvation only through Jesus. That is why Christ was able to say that He was the way, the truth, and the life. This teaching made up part of the true meaning of what the massage of the gospel that was to go into all the world was about.
When we compare the truth of the gospel with what is taking place in many churches today, can we see that the fundamental truths of God word are being replaced by a belief in a triune God, different baptisms, the worship of saints, salvation by works, blending in with the culture of the day for the sake of unity, many churches embrace homosexual marriages. The Christianity we are seeing today is becoming virtually unrecognized from the faith that the early believers wrote and spoke about. What is being neglected even forgotten is the warning that the Apostle told us about as to what was going to happen once they were no long alive? 1 John 4:1 and Acts 20:28-32; 28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the holy spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
We read in these verses clearly that these men will come from within the church (they have been there a while)and from without for one purpose, ”to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Do you believe this? Is this happening where you attend, would you know if it was? What message are you hearing in church? The important thing we must always remember is that these things are to happen and nothing is done without God being in control. So the question that we need to answer is what is the cause that leads people into apostasy ?
We find the answer in Deuteronomy 18:19-22, which is the test of a prophet. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
and in Deuteronomy 13:1-3, we read that God is using a prophet for testing of the hearts of the people as to whether they love him or not. 1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
It is important that we understand the text correctly, because it seems that apostasy comes by a deliberate act of God by allowing false teachers into our midst God will test the hearts of His people as to whether they are sincere of their love towards Him, and by them going after other god's is a clear indication to God of their insincerity. With that in mind, it seems that many are going to lean towards apostasy and fail the test. Where do you stand?
The consequences for no longer loving the truth is that God gives us over to a strong delusion 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
I do not believe that faithful Christians can significantly change an overwhelmingly apostate Christian church. What we can do however, is not be deceived ourselves by Satan's devices or support what is not of God in our churches, and be a light.
While many of today’s teachers proclaim that we are in the "greatest revival ever," the truth is the church is sinking deeper and deeper into apostasy. We were warned this would happen, that there would be many false prophets that will appear and deceive many people, false teachers and preachers are gaining in tremendous popularity. One of the most obvious signs of the spiritual decline, is apathy, the simple lack of interest or the indifference toward anything and everything that deals with God. Without Bible knowledge we have no idea what God expects from us or what we can expect from God. So many rely on men for their spiritual information and these men many times will deceive their followers. Unfortunately a deceived person does not know that they are being deceived. So they are blinded to the truth. Thus the deceived person may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong. This is because when blindness does meet truth, blindness does not know that it has confronted truth. Thus, spiritual blindness to the truth causes human ignorance which in turn can cause a person with a good heart to do things that are extremely offensive to God.
May you grow in the Grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
What leads people into apostasy?
Although the subject of Christ’s death plays such an important role in the writings of Paul as we read in 1Corintians 15:3 “for I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” and merits a thorough study, such a study is not the intent in this writing, but I hope to be able to present some highlights of the subject.
The thing that can be said about the death of Christ is that it is the supreme revelation of the love of God. What is also of great importance and to remember is that while both the Old and New testaments have in mind the wrath of God, we must not interpret the atoning work of Christ as a turning of God’s wrath into love as some do, such a view is rooted in pagan Greek thought, with the mindset that the gods often became angry with humans, but their anger could be placated and the goodwill of the gods obtained by some propitiatory sacrifice. For Paul the cruelest form of human execution has become the place where God displayed his love. For Paul, the final proof of God’s love for men and women was the cross. Even though Paul recognizes that the work of the cross comes from a loving Father, he still acknowledges the need for atonement, as seen in the wrath of God against sin, Roman 1:18 “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men.” Wrath must always be seen as a divine reaction to sin. The most important point to remember is that the atoning work of Christ does not change God’s wrath to love, rather it is God’s love that is the source of atonement.
When we read and study the writings of Paul, we learn that Paul employs many terms to describe the work of Christ. One of the most important that seems to dominate both the book of Galatians and Romans, is Justification. But what does it mean for us to be justified? In the Greek the verb “to justify” is built on the same root as “righteous” and “righteousness” which expresses the idea “to declare righteous” and not “to make righteous” The express idea that Paul wants us to understand is justification is the declaration of God, that those who believe in Christ, sinful though we may be, are righteous, because in Christ they have come into a righteous relationship with God. The way in which Paul is presenting us the concept of “righteousness” is with the view of that of a relationship. In other words what Paul is teaching us is that a person is righteous who has fulfilled the demands laid upon him or her by the relationship in which that person stands. Paul is not using the word in a sense that it is designating some ethical character of the person, but rather faithfulness to a relationship. Righteousness for Paul is the standard God has decreed for human conduct. A righteous person is one who in God’s judgment meets the divine standard and thus stands in a right relationship with God. The standard for righteousness depends entirely on the nature of God not ours. Genesis 18:25 “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right”. In Judaism righteousness came to be defined in terms of conformity to the Torah, or Law of Moses, at the same time they did not believe that God demanded flawless obedience, but viewed God’s justice based strictly according to their deeds. But Paul teaches us that it is in Christ that God justifies the ungodly, Romans 4:5 “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,” What this verse teaches us is that no amount of law keeping, or good works, is what will give us salvation, because if they did we could give ourselves a pat on the back and claim we were saved by our effort without Gods help. What we can learn from this is that God does not treat sinners as though they were righteous, but in fact are righteous because through Christ, and not their works, they have entered into a new relationship with God and are therefore righteous in terms of this relationship. The righteousness we have with God is not an ethical one but a relational one. In 2 Corinthians we read that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself “ We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” and in Romans 5:10 we read “and you, who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in the body of the flesh by his death” Christ through the cross has reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God, as we read in Colossians 1:21-22.
Reconciliation is thus the work of God and humanity is its object. Humanity cannot reconcile itself to God. We must be reconciled to God by a divine action. So from the above verses we can conclude that reconciliation is God who has both initiated and in Christ accomplished reconciliation. This reconciliation is not a license for us to continue walking in sin, rather, because God has given us his love through Christ, we return that love back by obedience to his word.
May you grow in the Grace an understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
The work of Christ: Justification and Reconciliation
God, I don't understand what you are doing
There may or will be times in our lives when things are happening to us or around us which prompts us too ask ourselves, why God allowed that to happen or be confronted with the question of where was God at the time. The truth is that it can seem at times, that God does not care what is happening in His creation, which may move us to ask the question “How long” or “Why” These reactions to the things that happen to us or around us are not new, these words have been asked down through history, these are the very same questions that Habakkuk was confronted with himself. Habakkuk saw the violence and injustice of his time and asks God, why He seems to delay judgment.
“O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" and You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.”
Habakkuk looked at the violence and injustice around him in the nation of Judah. He wondered where God was, and why God did not set things right. “Even cry out to You, "Violence" and You will not save” Habakkuk went to God in prayer wanting an answer. “Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?” How many times have we expressed with words such as Iniquity … trouble … plundering and violence … strife … contention … the law is powerless … justice never goes forth … perverse judgment proceeds: when we see or hear of things that are happening around us or somewhere in the world? Habakkuk like us sees trouble and sin everywhere, from personal relationships to courts of law. The current situation that he was living in, distresses him so much, that he cries out to God and asks God why He doesn't set things straight. Habakkuk came before the throne of God with these questions, and God gave him the answer. The answer that God gave Habakkuk would be the same that He would give to us.
At first reading of Habakkuk we may fail to recognize the book of Habakkuk is divided into two parts, Habakkuk asking God questions, and God answering Habakkuk.
What we learn from the opening chapter is that Habakkuk has been crying out to God for a long, long time. He seems to be completely overwhelmed by the situation in which he is living. For Habakkuk there are two main reasons he comes before God, He ask God, O Lord how long? Why?
We can rightly conclude that from these two phases that Habakkuk is expressing to God that he has reached his limits, and he is seeking answers. God it seems for him has remained silent, and this silence for Habakkuk has become intolerable. It seems that the fundamental lament and complaint before God is expressed by the word “violence” a word which denotes flagrant violation of the moral law by which man injures primarily his fellow man, or said another way: continued oppression by injurious language, harsh treatment, was taking place. This situation is not however something new, the biblical record suggests that this violence has been in human society from the earliest times. The days of Noah, Genesis 6:5-11 “the wickedness of man was great, every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually, the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, all flesh corrupted their way. What was the result of this? “the earth was filled with violence.” So we learn that violence (oppression) does escalate. Even though Habakkuk was distressed at the things that were taking place, and was asking God for answers, he did recognize that the most disturbing aspect was what had happened to the “law” (tora in Hebrews) “The law is slacked” we know that in old testament terms that “justice” is the application of the law (tora) by means of all the function of government. What Habakkuk seems to be describing is a nation where both the religious (Levitical priesthood) and civil leaders have become corrupt, this could suggest a general, pervasive lawlessness in society. The situation that Habakkuk is dealing with can be summed up in the phrase (1:4) “The wicked hem (or surround) in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” If wickedness encircles the righteous, that would mean that godless people outnumber people who fear God. In such a situation we may well come to the point where we ask: Why do people suffer, why do the ungodly flourish, what is the point of praying. So when we ask these questions to ourselves we are sharing the same kind of burden as Habakkuk.
God's answer to Habakkuk concerning the first problem.
(5-6) "Look among the nations and watch; be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs." God's astounding work in the days of Habakkuk was to bring the Babylonians to judge Judah. For us today God is also at work doing something to bring about justice though we may not see it at this time.
God is telling Habakkuk, “Be utterly astounded” "Don't worry about it. “I will work a work in your days which you would not believe:” God was at work already as Habakkuk is complaining and God is answering his complaint, by bring about a judgment so astounding that Habakkuk would have a hard time believing it.
The second problem: "Why do it this way, O LORD?"
(12-17) Habakkuk wonders why God would use a nation more wicked than Judah to bring judgment on Judah. This answer from God has shaken Habakkuk to the core.
“Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he? Why do You make men like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them? They take up all of them with a hook, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet; because by them their share is sumptuous and their food plentiful. Shall they therefore empty their net, and continue to slay nations without pity?” At first Habakkuk was troubled that there was no judgment against Judah; God answered by telling him judgment was on the way. Now we see Habakkuk is troubled by the agent of judgment that God was using (the Babylonians), who were an even more wicked people than the people of Judah. Habakkuk was having difficulty dealing with the way God was working out the situation. We too may at times have to confront our attitude to such a situation where we may start to question the way God is working things out. In Isaiah 55: 7-9 read, “Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your though”
Like Habakkuk we may start to question God because we like Habakkuk know the character of God, and would say to God “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness” Since Habakkuk understood the holy character of God, he is more troubled than ever as to why God would judge wicked Judah by exalting even more wicked Babylon.
“Shall they therefore empty their net, and continue to slay nations without pity?” Habakkuk wonders how long God will allow the Babylonians to continue their cruel conquest of nations. It is as if God's people are conquered as easily as fish in a net.
"Easily we are taken and destroyed. We have no leader to guide us, and no power to defend ourselves." Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon is here represented as a fisherman, who is constantly casting nets into the sea, and enclosing multitudes of fishes; and being always successful, he sacrifices to his own net." (2:1) In spite of what is taking place in his nation, Habakkuk resolutely waits for God's reply.
“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.”
Habakkuk has raised two important questions to God, yet he asks both with a great attitude. He anticipates an answer from God and is willing to watch that is, wait for it. Do we, when we question God expect Him not to answer us, unlike Habakkuk who does? Other times we not only expect God will answer, but we seem to demand that He answer, and answer according to our schedule. How often God's answers come, and find us gone! We have waited for a while, and, thinking there was no answer coming, we have gone our way. From this we see that Habakkuk didn't ask God this question because he thought God was wrong in the way he chose to answer, and had to explain Himself. His questions were his invitation to God saying, "God, I don't understand what you are doing, but I know that you are right in all things. Please speak to me and correct me."
Habakkuk is dealing with the questions that come up, by someone who really believes God, yet looks around them and the world doesn't seem to match up with how God wants it.
Habakkuk Part 2
One of the lessons that can be learnt from reading the book of Habakkuk is that, it is clear that anything short of God’s ultimate and utterly righteous judgment, which will come only at the end and will be presided over by Jesus Christ his son, will never solve the problems of violence, wickedness and corruption. God wants us to trust Him with our deepest fears, and feelings. Is it not the truth that often our relationship with God can remain at a superficial and unreal level? Lets take the example that Christ gave us as what to pray for. Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
There are six parts to this prayer, first three relate more expressly to God and his honour, the last three to our own concerns, both temporal and spiritual. This prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and that all other things shall be added. But this prayer is more than mare words, there are feelings and emotions that go with it. When we express to God “thy kingdom come” do we take the time to express to God why we need his kingdom to come?
When it comes to things that are happening around our personal space or around the world could it be that because a situation does not affect us personally we fall short in praying for certain things! Or do we get involved through prayer.? A very valuable lesson that we learn from Habakkuk is expressed in what he says about the situation taking place around him, “I will stand my watch and station myself on the ramparts.” (tower) Habakkuk set himself to watch and wait for God to answer his prayer. This watching was not the result of a onetime prayer, and then he just a went about his daily activity. I get the impression that it was a day to day event full of emotion, such as fear, anticipation, and uncertainty and hope.
We see the same thing in the life of Daniel who also set himself to watch and wait for God in intercessory prayer for his people. Jeremiah was also prepared to take time watching and waiting until God answered his prayer. The point I am trying to bring to the forefront is that there are many situations that are taking place all around us that need our attention with prayer, but because of our fast pace world in which we live in we find it difficult to watch and wait for God to answer our prayers. We may know the scripture which says in Isa 40:31 that “ they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” but at the same time we urge God to hurry up and give us his answer quickly. I am reminded of situations I hear about many times lately where individuals seek an answer from God, so they pray about it (so they say) and the next day they have the answer from God they wanted to hear, even if the answer is contrary to God’s word, or character.
Like Habakkuk said, so to must we. “ I will look to see what he will say to me” the lesson here is that we need to pay full attention to what God will say and this may take time. I am not saying that God cannot answer your prayers overnight, in fact he may well have but like the situation with Daniel, God answered his prayer that very day but it took twenty six days for the answer to reach him. Unlike us God is not limited by time ,2 Peter 3:8 “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Although this verse is talking about the coming Kingdom that is promised, he is giving everyone time to repent. V9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
The same principle can be applied towards the kind of attitude one should have towards their prayer. One important element that is overlooked when it comes to prayer is that it can also imply that we be open to correction. Habakkuk was not the kind of person whose insistent demands on God cease only when they get the answer they want, when God appears to have come round to their way of thinking. On the contrary, Habakkuk expected God to correct and reprove him.
May we grow in the grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
I have a confession to make, I do not worship God my creator as He should and deserves be worshiped.
So if that is the case, than what is acceptable worship? Let me clarify that statement, and put it into proper prospective in answering that question. Ask yourself these two questions. "How can I have a worship that is acceptable to God" and "Do I have an acceptable worship.?" It can become very easy for us to become involved with our daily activities that we lose sight of the importance of worship, or worship may have taken second place in our life, and though we may acknowledge that God is spirit, we do not approach Him with that mindset. In John 4: 24 we read, "God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth" I want to bring attention to one word in that text, because many times when reading God's word we tend to overlook words that play an important part in understanding what main point is, the word to pay attention to is the word "must". John 4:24 reads " Because I God am Spirit, those who worship me "MUST" worship me in spirit and truth, and no other way will be an acceptable form of worship". Let me at this time make a true bold statement concerning this verse. God the Farther is seeking (calling) worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and truth, implies, that there is a right way and a wrong way to worship Him. We see this truth from the very beginning of creation, Cain and Abel both brought an offering of worship and Cain's was rejected.
Human beings have a sinful nature that cannot be trusted on its own to devise a worship service that would properly worship God because God’s nature is such that He can only be approached on His own terms, so if I attend a church, it will be most likely that that group of people are not going to follow God’s way of worship properly because it will be under some man’s sinful direction to some degree, and I must confess again, I do have blind spots in my Christian walk, and so do not worship God as He should and deserves be worshiped.
Sadly many will attend a church not questioning any part of the service, which has been planned out by men, and walking away thinking that they have been worshiping God. Many attend a church that fits their personal beliefs and think they are worshiping God, but personal beliefs really have no part when it comes to worshiping God. Just look at all the different denominations, and the different ways people worship God today. Many find it easy to view their form of worship as the better one, but wait! Is it?
So you walk into a church,(a group of individuals that gather together and consider themselves to be part of the body of Christ, they may or may not be) you may be welcomed by someone, you sing songs, (most of the songs in church today have been written by man, who have little understanding of God’s word and are influenced by a worldly view of God) listen to a sermon ( which may lean more toward a pyscology class, then spiritual instruction) you are eager to do what the pastor, minister, etc., asks you to do,( so you sign up for an accountability group etc.) and feel good that you are worshiping God, or are we? The big problem we have when it comes to worshiping God, is that men have no authority to impose their ideas about worship on others, yet many will blindly follow these men thinking they do. This statement by Christ in John 4: could very well apply to the many individuals today that gather as a church for worship. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know “ Does that mean we should not go to a church? No! that is not what I am saying, for we are instructed to assemble our self together. Hebrew 10-24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near . It is true that fulfilling this scripture for true Christians is getting harder; because of the direction many Christ professing churches have and are taking that leads them away from God and yet still consider themselves as part of the body. The challenge than becomes how far away from God are they? Yes the fact that man is sinful is not to be used as an excuse to justify, or make it right to do what we want, when it comes to worship, for we are told in 1 Peter 5:8-9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
We who follow Christ and worship him in spirit and truth in some of the churches today are the individuals that make up part of the real body of Christ that will be gatherer together at the end, but we must until than be witnesses of the truth.
John 4 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The hardest place to be a witness of Christ is in a group of people who assemble as a body of Christ, but many (leadership included) in that group are not of the body. Many worship God with their lips, but are far from God. God does hold the leadership accountable. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. God’s word is filled with situations where people did not follow God’s standard of worship.
Genesis 4:3-5 In the course of time ( at one time Cain was bringing to God the right offering but started to do it his way) Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.(The right way, the way God had set it up to be worshiped) The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Exodus 20:4-5 You shall not make for yourself an idol,( anything that takes the place of God) whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;(many may not physically bow down , but do worship with their words) for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.
Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence. Speaking of men who trust in his own wisdom to devise a worship service
John 4:19-24 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The kind of worshiper God is interested in. It is how we worship that is the key element.
So how must one worship God! Remember that I have no right to tell you how to worship God, but God can and the word of God tells us that we are not to add or detract from the worship of Him. God is so holy that we can only come into His presence through Christ according to the rules of worship that He has prescribed. That is why it is so important to read the word of God, so that we can grow in understanding , and protect ourselves from men who teach their brand of worship, no matter how innocent it may seem, check with God.
When we rely on men to use their own wisdom to invent worship ordinances we end up replacing the true worship of God with will-worship.
Note: This article is not intended to be anti-church, but to help my brothers and sister s in Christ to be and stay alert as 1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which translated is 'God with us.
"God with us" these words are used by some to identify Jesus as "God" by suggesting the name means God was "with us" in the sense of him coming down from heaven to be with us in a physical sense. Since Jesus, some claim, came to be "with us" then, he must himself be God in person dwelling with us, but is that what it really means? If one choses to apply that phrase in this manner than we are reading our own personal interpretation, or idea, into the text: Such as, God the Son came down into the Virgin Mary. Paul in Acts14 speaks against this very idea of a God –man.
So does, "God with us" really mean God is with us, or God occupying the same space as us. Understanding how this term is used in scripture is very important, as we will see.
Essentially, incarnation theology, the belief that God the Son came down from heaven into Mary, is being read into Matthew 1:23 and it is then presumed that the words "God with us" must therefore refer to this incarnation concept and these words and this name, Immanuel, mean "God [the Son], Jesus, came down from heaven to be with us. But this interpretation as we will learn is inconsistent with Scripture.
It is tenuous to claim that God came to dwell among Israel when Scripture informs us that no one has ever seen, or can see, God. But even more significant is the fact that we are told explicitly in Revelation 21:1-4. that God will only be among humanity in the new heavens and earth. So if God has already been among us, does not the point of God's promise to dwell among us become a rather meaningless promise?
In reading Revelation 21:1-4. I ask you to please take note of the time frame at which this event will take place.
Revelation 21:1-4. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
As to the quote from Matthew above this can be found in Isaiah 7:14. The context of this passage reveals that there are two Kings attacking Ahaz the King of Judah. God informs Ahaz that he will give him a sign concerning the outcome of the situation. The sign that will be given is the birth of a child and will be named Immanuel. I ask again that when reading this section not to rush through it, for it contains important information in understanding what is meant by the term “God with us”
Isaiah 7:1-17 Now it came about in the days of Ahaz, the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Aram and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not conquer it. When it was reported to the house of David, saying, “The Arameans have camped in Ephraim,” his heart and the hearts of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake with the wind. Then the lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field, and say to him, ‘Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls and set up the son of Tabeel as king in the midst of it,” thus says the lord God: “It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. For the head of Aram is Damascus and the head of Damascus is Rezin (now within another 65 years Ephraim will be shattered, so that it is no longer a people), and the head of Ephraim is Samaria and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you will not believe, you surely shall not last.” Then the lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the lord your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the lord!” Then he said, “Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of God as well? Therefore the lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. The LORD will bring on you, on your people, and on your father’s house such days as have never come since the day that Ephraim separated from Judah, the king of Assyria.”
The context plainly tells us that a child named Immanuel will be born during the days of King Ahaz and the prophet Isaiah. We are also told that the birth of this child was to be a sign to King Ahaz. This does not mean the prophecy cannot apply to Jesus. Such "dual prophecies" are common in Scripture. We must however recognize that this sign was fulfilled in the days of Ahaz and Isaiah. In fact, a time frame is explicitly given: 65 years (v.8). And verses 15-16 make it even clearer, "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings ( 7:1-2) you dread will be forsaken." It seems quite clear from this passage that this will all take place during the reign of King Ahaz.
Now once we realize that the birth of this child will occur during the life of Ahaz and the prophet Isaiah, should it not be clear as well, that it is impossible to interpret Immanuel, "God with us," to mean that the God of Israel would come down from heaven to be located in the same space as Israel. It is important to note! that the child born during the days of Ahaz was not called "Immanuel' because he was God Himself.
And it is also very clear how God would be with them. God is giving them a sign that He is with King Ahaz and the House of David concerning the war situation they are suffering. Isaiah 7:14 cannot and should not be read to mean that God has decided to come down from heaven and be located among them, but that He is with them in plan and purpose. We have read that God will give them a sign, NOT that God will be the sign or that God will descend from heaven. We simply cannot interpret Isaiah 7:14 to mean God has come down from heaven when it concerns Jesus but deny those words mean the same thing when it comes to the fulfillment of the prophecy when the child is born during the reign of King Ahaz. The verse in question must refer to a birth of a child contemporaneous with King Ahaz. That child will be named "Immanuel" or "God with us." It is impossible to interpret these words to mean that child is God Himself.
This teaches us something very important, that "God with us" does NOT mean God coming to be located in the same space as the people of Judah. Hence, if "God with us" does NOT mean God coming to be located in the same space as Israel, it can't mean that for Jesus either. Remember also that it would also result in Almighty God not knowing right from wrong, as the two verses immediately following the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy tell us that the child Immanuel will not know right from wrong. To interpret the name Immanuel to mean that the child IS God would therefore mean Almighty God would not know right from wrong, However, if the name Immanuel was a name given to the child to show that the God of Israel, not the child himself, would be with them in plan and purpose, the name given to the child makes complete sense. In fact, the verses immediately preceding Matthew 1:23 show us that God's plan and purpose is exactly what is in mind, Jesus will save his people from their sins. God snt his human son to the cross and in this way God was with the people of Israel. (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל meaning, "God is with us")
The idea of God being "with" someone in a functional sense is a common expression in Scripture. For example, when God told Israel that he would be with them, He meant that He was going to be with them in plan and purpose as opposed to being against them. It meant God is with Israel in a functional sense rather than spatial sense.
The "us" in 'God with us' is refers to the people of Israel. It is incredulous to say that what Matthew is telling us, is that God was with Israel in the sense of occupying the same space. God was with Israel in plan and purpose, are we not told numerous times that "no one has ever seen God" The fact is, that we are told right here in the context of Matthew chapter one how God was to be with his people Israel: his son Jesus whose name is "God saves" will save his people from their sins." As Simeon so vividly declares to the God of Israel, "Mine eyes have seen your salvation." Luke 2:30. And Zachariah proclaimed: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited US (same meaning as God with us) and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for US in the house of David His servant
It should be quite clear what is intended by the word "God with us." The Lord God of Israel is with his people in plan and purpose by giving them a son from the House of David, his son, to redeem them from their sins.
Isaiah Provided the Decisive Answer
If we look at Isaiah 8:8-10, we find another occurrence of the name "Immanuel," we clearly see here that the name Immanuel was intended to mean "God with us" in terms of plan and purpose.
Isaiah 8:8-10 Then it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass through, It will reach even to the neck; And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel. Be broken, O peoples, and be shattered; And give ear, all remote places of the earth. Gird yourselves, yet be shattered; Gird yourselves, yet be shattered. Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted; State a purpose, but it will not stand, For (Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל meaning,) God is with us" Please note the “is” in this phrase.
When we come to the New Testament, and examine what it has to say concerning Jesus, it becomes abundantly clear. At John 3:2, Nicodemus remarks that he felt God was "with" Jesus because of the miracles he had done. Indeed, Jesus tells us plainly that he drove out demons not by himself but by "the Spirit of God" Matthew 12:28, and that it is God the Father "in him" that does the works John 14:10. Indeed, Peter also tells us plainly that God preached the good news of peace and did miracles through Jesus Luke 8:39 24:19; Acts 2:22; 10:36,38; Luke 24:20. God was with Israel in the sense that he was with them in plan and purpose in the activity of His Messiah Jesus.
Luke 7:16 Jesus rose a young man from the dead, we are told that, "They were all filled with awe and praised God. 'A great prophet has appeared among us,' they even said, 'God has come to help his people.'" No one would seriously interpret this particular verse to mean Jesus was God and had come to raise this young man from the dead. In the very same way, Matthew tells us that God has come to save his people through his Son who is to be named immanual and in this way the child is "God (is) with us" because through this child God was with his people in the plan and purpose of salvation. It will be obvious to anyone who embraces the truth instead of clinging to a man-made tradition, that the term "God with us" refers not to the idea that "Jesus is God" but to the idea that God was with Israel in plan and purpose by sending His Son to them. The overwhelming force of Scripture, the immediate context of the passage, and the facts behind the origin of the quotation, demand we comprehend the name "God with us" in the sense of plan and purpose. Matthew was speaking in terms of God's function, not his geographic location.
If we back up just a little bit to verse 1:21 in Matthew, we see that the angel tells Joseph that the child born to Mary is to be called Immanuel (Jesus) because he will "save his people from their sins." Now let us stop and think about that for one second. They named the child Immanuel’ the same name given to the promised child of King Ahaz, this helps us to reflect back to the fact that God was going to save his people from their sins through this child, his son, God's salvation. The name "Immanuel" refers to His plan and purpose for his son. And "God with us" is also meant to convey the same idea that God was with them in the purposeful sense of saving them from their sins through his son Jesus. This is how God was "with" Israel. God was saving his people from their sins and in this way is "with them." It is a matter of plan and purpose, not a matter of God's location. The name "Immanuel" or "God with us" is intended to refer to what God was doing rather than where he was. He was "with his people" in the sense that He sent his Son to save them and was "with" them in that plan and purpose.
Please note that Immanuel was not literally Jesus' name. It was an appellation intended to indicate that God was with his people in plan and purpose by providing his son Jesus to die for their sins. Jesus was God's Messiah and God's Savior.
The name Immanuel also applies to a child contemporaneous with Ahaz and Isaiah. It is impossible to interpret this child's name to mean that the child himself is God located among us and that fact demonstrates to us that this is not what is intended by the name.
The child Immanuel will not know right from wrong. If the child's name meant the child IS God then it also necessarily follows that Almighty God will not know right from wrong. Matthew is quoting Isaiah where we are explicitly informed at Isaiah 8:8-10 that "God with us" means God was with his people in plan and purpose and opposed to being against them.
What is the conclusion to the matter.
1. In context, the birth of this child has to occur during the reign of Ahaz. Nobody would not identify that particular child born during Ahaz's time as "God." We would rather interpret this to mean God was with Israel by means of the birth of this child not that the child IS God. As with many other prophecies in Scripture, this prophecy is a near/far dual fulfillment. The context DEMANDS a near fulfillment in the time of Ahaz, a child named Immanuel, "God with us," whom you would not admit is God.
2. We are told that the child Immanuel will not know enough to refuse evil and choose good. To insist baby Jesus is called Immanuel because he IS Almighty God would necessarily mean that Almighty God did not know enough to refuse evil and choose God, a total absurdity.
3. Finally, we are explicitly told in Isaiah that the child Immanuel is a SIGN that God is with his people Israel not that Immanuel IS God.
May we grow in grace and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Understanding who Jesus is and his role in God’s plan
Matthew 1:23 / Isaiah 7:14