When Mary and Joseph were betrothed, Mary was found to be pregnant, but Joseph knew that the child was not his because he had not had relations with her. To explain what happened, an angel appeared to him in a dream and said,
"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:20-21, NIV)
The Promise of Immanuel
The Gospel writer Matthew, who was addressing primarily a Jewish audience, then referred to a prophecy from the Old Testament, more than 700 years before the birth of Jesus, in Isaiah 7:14:
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:22-23, NIV)
Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled that prophecy because he was fully man yet still fully God. He came to live in Israel with his people, as Isaiah had foretold. The name Jesus, incidentally, or Yeshua in Hebrew, means "the LORD is salvation."
The word Immanuel appears only three times in the Bible: Isaiah 7:14, 8:8, and Matthew 1:23.
Before his ascension to heaven, Jesus made this promise to his followers: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20, NIV). That promise is repeated in the last book of the Bible, in Revelation 21:3:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (NIV)
Before Jesus returned to heaven, he told his followers that the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, would dwell with them: "And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-" (John 14:16, NIV)
During the Christmas season, Christians sing the hymn, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" as a reminder of God's promise to send a savior. The words were translated into English from a 12th century Latin hymn by John M. Neale in 1851. The song's verses repeat various prophetic phrases from Isaiah that foretold the birth of Jesus Christ.
Pronunciation: im MAN yu el
Also Known As: Emmanuel
Example: The prophet said a savior named Immanuel would be born of a virgin.
(Sources: Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words and Cyberhymnal.org.)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian website for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.