Immanuel Is Born

“She shall bring forth a son, and shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt 1:21
Immanuel is a symbolic name, meaning “God with us.” (Isa. 7:14) The name Jesus, which is the Greek form for Joshua, signifies savior, or liberator. “For he shall save his people from their sins.”—Matt. 1:21
The entire work of our Lord Jesus is summed up in the meaning of the name Jesus. Our Lord was publicly identified as the Savior as a babe; but it was only when he had completed his sacrifice at Calvary that he earned the full right to be the savior, owner, and Lord of mankind.—Luke 2:11

Jesus was begotten not by Joseph, but by the Holy Spirit. The life principle of the Logos or Word of God (John 1:1-3,14), also known as Michael (Dan. 10:13; 12:1), was transferred by God’s Holy Spirit into Mary. (Heb. 1:5) The promise was then fulfilled in the words, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Jesus was born perfect, free from the Adamic curse of sin and death. He knew no sin, while all other men are sinners by nature. (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:18) Therefore, he could die on the cross as a perfect man, fulfilling God’s desire that through him, “shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”—Gen. 12:3
These “families” refer to the world of mankind under the new administration of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom. At that time the kingdoms of this world will have passed away, and been replaced by the kingdom of our Lord. Mankind will respond to this kingdom, “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.” (Isa. 2:3; Rev. 11:15) Then, God’s promised blessings will flow to all the people of the earth. Isaiah 9, verses 6 and 7, provide an explanation from the LORD’s standpoint of how these blessings are under his provision and supervision.

Beginning with our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, and presenting himself as God’s son, Jesus gave his human life as a willing sacrifice on our behalf, starting at Jordan, and culminating at Calvary. Because of his obedience unto death, “God also hath highly exalted and given him a name which is above every name.” This name includes honor, dominion, and power above all others, “that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phil. 2:9-11) Here, we have included those who sleep in death—“under the earth”—who will be raised up to a restored perfect life on earth.

“The government shall be upon his shoulder,” describes the authority, glory, and honor given to the Lord by God through his great love. Christ’s kingdom will usher in God’s “times of restitution of all things.” (Acts 3:19-21) The Scriptures assure us that Jesus’ reign will be a time of blessing, peace and joy for all who love righteousness and truth. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:7

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After the exodus from Egypt, and following the giving of the Law Covenant at Mount Sinai, God led the Israelites to the southern borders of Canaan, the land of promise. Caleb, of the tribe of Judah, and eleven leaders from the other tribes formed the ruling structure of Israel, with Moses as the recognized head of the nation. Nevertheless, all were subject to God and his commandments.

In Numbers 13:1-3 (New King James Version), we read, “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, everyone a leader among them.’” These men were to spy out the land and see whether the people who dwelt in it were strong or weak, few or many, whether the cities they inhabited were like (tent) camps or strongholds, whether the land was rich or poor, and whether forests were there or not. They were also to bring some fruit of the land back as evidence of its productiveness.—vss. 18-20

The twelve spies travelled through the land, taking forty days of careful inspection, and returned with a good report of its fruitfulness, bringing back with them grapes, figs, and pomegranates. But they also declared that the people were strong, the cities fortified and very large. Then, ten of the spies discouraged any hope in the people of conquering it, stating they looked like grasshoppers in their own sight compared to the inhabitants of the land.—vss. 27,28,31-33

However, Caleb and another leader, Joshua, did not so react. Instead, they declared faith in the power of God to defeat any enemy, no matter how unlikely from a human perspective. God rewarded the faith of Caleb (and Joshua) by keeping them alive through the forty years of wilderness wandering and bringing them into possession of the land of Canaan. All the other men of Israel from twenty years old and upward died in the wilderness. (Num. 14:1-10,22-24; 32:11,12) Thus, Caleb became a good example of faithfulness where trust in God brings victory and reward.

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Israel at Mt. Sinai

Three months after leaving Egypt, the Israelites came to the wilderness of Sinai, where they camped at the foot of the mount. (Exod. 19:1,2) There, God spoke to Moses, and reminded him of their recent deliverance from Egyptian bondage by divine power.—vss. 3,4

God then proposed to Moses his desire to make a covenant with the Israelites, offering to them the opportunity to be “a peculiar treasure, … a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation,” if they would obey his laws and instructions. (vss. 5,6) Moses called together representatives of all the people, and explained the wonderful offer which God had made. In unison, the people answered, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” Moses returned their affirmative response to God.—vss. 7,8

Moses was instructed that prior to the giving of God’s Law to the people, they were to be made ready for this important occasion. Moses was told to “go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes.” On the third day, the people were to gather at the bottom of Mount Sinai.—vss. 9-11
When the people gathered on the third day at the foot of the mount, God’s great power was demonstrated. There was thunder, lightning, and the sound of a trumpet. A thick cloud of smoke covered the mount, and it quaked violently, causing the people to tremble. (vss. 16-19) God told Moses that the people were not to ascend the mount. Only Moses and his brother Aaron were to come up. There, God would give his Law to them, which they in turn would present to the people.—vss. 21-25; Heb. 12:18-21

Exodus, chapters 20-23, provides a record of the laws given to Moses and Aaron by God at Mount Sinai. They covered many different aspects of daily life. There were the “Ten Commandments.” These were followed by laws governing altars and offerings; servants; restitution; social matters; the Sabbath and other festivals; and instructions regarding their eventual conquest of the land of Canaan. Finally, God confirmed his covenant in the presence of Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and seventy of the elders of Israel.—Exod. 24:1-8

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Forty Years in the Wilderness

The nation of Israel was God’s chosen people (Amos 3:2), and God gave them abundant evidence of his love and special favor. He brought them out of Egypt, delivered them from the pursuing Egyptian army at the Red sea and gave them his Law at Sinai.
God had promised them the land of Cannan. “The LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Depart, go up … to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite.” (Exod. 33:1,2, New American Standard Bible) All Israel had to do was to trust and obey.

When they reached the land, they sent out spies. Upon their return, Caleb, who had a strong faith, said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it.” (Num. 13:30, English Standard Version) The report of the other ten spies was discouraging. Upon hearing the evil report, the Israelites’ faith in God wavered and they wanted to return to Egypt. “So the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the LORD was destroyed.”—Num. 32:13, NASB

While Israel journeyed in the wilderness, God provided for all their needs. He fed them with manna, caused refreshing waters to come from barren rock, and led them through the desert with the pillar of cloud and of fire. During their sojourn, neither their shoes nor their clothes wore out. Still, Israel murmured against God, but God faithfully brought them to the promised land. God keeps his promises: the promises he made to Abraham, along with his promises to bless and punish Israel.

Paul writes that these events are recorded for our instruction, that we may endure and escape temptation. (1 Cor. 10:11–13) Israel’s experiences have important lessons for Christians. We have been invited on a journey to a new, heavenly Canaan. There are trials and difficulties along the way. But our God has promised us, just as he promised Moses, that his presence shall go with us. He will test our loyalty and our faith in him. Shall we forget all the way he has led us and the great deliverances in our past? Surely not! Have faith in God.

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