"Emmanuel" Devotional, by Ginger O'Brien

We often read the Bible as if it were an anthology - full of moral stories, hero stories, inspiring stories, and such - all disconnected from one another. But the Bible is a cohesive book about the person and work of the Holy Triune God!

In the beginning, man lived in God’s constant presence and in perfect relationship with Him. And then sin entered, delivering a crushing blow. In an instant, man’s relationship with God was broken and he could no longer live in the presence of a Holy God. Yet God’s first response to their sin was a promise - a promise to Satan that an offspring of the woman would crush his head (Genesis 3:15). That’s the plot. It’s laid out, plain for all  to see: there would be a redeemer and Satan would be destroyed! Stop here at Genesis 3:15 and take it in! The Author is giving you the climax of the story. And then you read everything that follows through that lens. You know the outcome! 

Stop here at Genesis 3:15 and take it in! The Author is giving you the climax of the story… you know the outcome!
— Ginger O'Brien

It’s like a street sign on a dark, foggy road - you can’t see anything ahead of you but you know you’re going in the right direction. That’s what it was like living in the Old Testament. You knew the outcome: a redeemer would come! But, how? And When? 

Prophets came and went, warning God’s people to repent and turn from their sin. And then there was silence. Four hundred years of silence. No word from God. And then one night, the silence was shattered. The Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream: “‘She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:21-3) 

Emmanuel - God with us! His name is Jesus! Suddenly the fog lifts… the whole story had been pointing to Jesus all along!
— Ginger O'Brien

Emmanuel - God with us! His name is Jesus!  Suddenly the fog lifts and you can see the destination and you no longer have to rely on the street signs to know the way. The whole story had been pointing to Jesus all along!  When we read the Bible, we don’t read it to learn how to conquer our enemies like Joshua, be brave like David, how to have integrity like Daniel. We fall short of what the Bible is teaching us if we don’t realize that these stories and heroes first and foremost point us to Christ. 

All of these historical events are pointing to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. The Abrahamic promise comes about through Jesus’ death and resurrection as it allows for the inclusion of the Gentiles - the blessing to the nations. The law finds its perfection and fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus fulfills the sacrificial system once and for all. Jesus is the true Passover Lamb bringing permanent deliverance. Jesus is the greater Moses - perfectly mediating between God and man. Jesus is the greater David - perfectly reigning and ruling. Solomon’s temple was destroyed; Jesus is the true and everlasting temple. He is the One of whom the prophets prophesied. He is Daniel’s Son of Man - the one whose kingdom cannot be destroyed. These stories all find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ - Emmanuel, God with us! 

Our hearts should exult in worship as we consider the glory of God’s plan manifested in His Son: the infinite, immutable Emmanuel. Did Simeon cry, “He is here! At long last, He has come! Emmanuel, the Promised One!” when he first held the child Jesus and blessed God saying “...for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel?” (Luke 2:29-32). Christian, when we appear with Him in glory, we will rise up in awe and worship, overcome with the glory of the triune God  - the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the perfect Son, Emmanuel of Whom all the Scriptures testify. 

FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Look at the bold words in the second to last paragraph: a list of the ways Jesus fulfills the Old Testament stories. Choose one and look up the scripture that pertains to this story, seeing it in light of Christ.

  2. Has the Christmas story become routine to you? Read it with fresh eyes today, and write a prayer of praise in response.