In the first part of this series, I introduced the idea of God being like a travel agent who maps out our journey and then acts as tour guide to help us reach our ultimate destination. I’d like to pause a moment here before we delve into the mechanics of how that works and reflect on the notion that God is indeed with us as we walk through each day of our lives.
One of the things I love most about the Word given to us through Scripture is that it imparts to us the amazing revelation that God is with us. Immanuel, which means “God with us”, is well known to Christians as the prophetic declaration of Christ’s coming through the virgin birth. Immanuel…is there any saying more blessed in all the world? God with us — with us! What other spiritual tradition on earth can lay claim to a God Who lives outside of space and time and dwells in the eternal throne room of Heaven, Who spoke the worlds into existence with a single thought, Who brings the dead things to life and receives the praise of a host of a thousand glorious angels, and yet deigns to come and live among us and BE with us and never depart from us?
This one called Immanuel, Jesus Christ, wasn’t just a preacher of the truth of Immanuel — he was the very embodiment of that truth. And he made two very thrilling promises to us: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b), and “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper [the Holy Spirit], to be with you forever” (John 14:16). Likewise, Hebrews 13:5 reiterates a promise given several times in the Old Testament: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” What a beautiful thing it is to know that Jesus did not leave us here to carry on his mission alone but that we can partner with him as we endeavor to follow his ways!
I would like to highlight two aspects to the concept of Immanuel for you. In many belief systems, the gods are only allied with you insofar as you are useful to their schemes and have honored them in the manner they deem fit. Capricious, emotional, and petty actions in high places could wreck havoc in the human community at any time, so placating the gods was paramount to civic and spiritual harmony. But in the true Kingdom of Heaven, eternal law is the yardstick by which all things are measured, and this law isn’t just decreed by God but is actually a facet of the very righteous nature of the Everlasting God Himself. Which means that not only is it possible for you to know where you stand with God at any time, but you need never fear that God will depart from your midst on a whim. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He is the unchangeable one. If He loved you yesterday, He will love you tomorrow. And the second aspect I want to stress is that through the death and resurrection of Christ for the remission of sins, we no longer need to fear that God’s blessing will be revoked due to our sinful behavior and our inherently corrupt nature. Not only can nothing separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39), but we have an imperishable, heavenly inheritance that will never fade away (1 Peter 1:4).
David wrote Psalm 46 starting with the now-famous verse: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” But further down in the psalm in verse 7, he says “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.” Again in verse 11 at the end of the psalm, he says “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah.” Selah means to pause, ponder, and contemplate what was just being said in the previous moment. I think the fact that David considered “the Lord is with us” to be something to repeat and ponder is significant, and I would argue that this singular truth is one of the most glorious aspects of the Christian faith. When the Apostle Paul preached to the Men of Athens in the Areopagus, he introduced to them the Lord of heaven and earth Who does not live in temples made by man, saying “He is actually not far from each one of us.”
Amen to that!
So walk forward in confidence, dear reader, believing that God is certainly not an impersonal and incommunicable being who can never be truly known, but is rather a loving Father Who has given us the incredible opportunity to seek after Him with all our hearts and find Him near. Now that we are armed with the newfound appreciation of the blessing of Immanuel, we will explore in the next part of this series the details of what it means to know where God is taking you and how to discern His prophetic timing for your life. See you then!