"His Name Shall be Called Immanuel, ...
God With Us."
THE LIGHT of the knowledge of the glory of God" is seen "in the face of Jesus Christ." From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with the Father; He was "the image of God," the image of His greatness and majesty, "the outshining of His glory." It was to manifest this glory that He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God's love,—to be "God with us." Therefore it was prophesied of Him, "His name shall be called Immanuel."
By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels. He was the Word of God,— God's thought made audible. Not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe. God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which "angels desire to look," and it will be their study throughout endless ages.
In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field. "His strength setteth fast the mountains." "The sea is His, and He made it" (Psalm 65:6; 95:5). And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father's love.
Now sin has marred God's perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that it may bring forth and bud.
But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me." John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.
In heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire for self- exaltation. With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he deceived an- gels. Thus he deceived men. He led them to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world.
The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world's dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, "with healing in His wings" (Malachi 4:2).
From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Lucifer had said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:13, 14). But Christ, "being in the form of God, counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6, 7, R.V., margin).
This was a voluntary sacrifice. Jesus might have remained at the Father's side. But He chose to give back the scepter into the Father's hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the benighted and life to the perishing.
Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted with our trials and sympathizes with our griefs. Every son and daughter of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every divine attraction presented in the Savior's life on earth, we see "God with us."
Satan represents God's law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us He was to give an example of obedience. For this He took upon Himself our nature and passed through our experiences. "In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren" (Hebrews 2:17). Jesus was "in all points tempted like as we are" (Hebrews 4:15). He endured every trial to which we are subject; and He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation and overcame in the strength given Him from God. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the law of God.
By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. "God with us" is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our power to obey the law of heaven.
In stooping to take upon Himself humanity, Christ revealed a character the opposite of the character of Satan; but He stepped still lower in the path of humiliation. "Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him" (Isaiah 53:5).
Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He de- serves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. "With His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we be- come more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Savior has bound Him- self to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son" (John 3:16). To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begot- ten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature.
Through Christ's redeeming work the government of God stands justified. The Omnipotent One is made known as the God of love. Satan's charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can never again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal ages all are secure from apostasy. By love's self-sacrifice, the inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of indissoluble union.
The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds. And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift.
Immanuel, "God with us."