(A Christmas message inspired by the famous hymn)

By Tim Sullivan

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

The name "Emmanuel" is associated with Isaiah’s famous prophecy:

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 8:8
And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph, he cited Isaiah's words.

Matthew 1:22-23
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

But before Gabriel quoted Isaiah, he proclaimed that Mary's son would be named Jesus.

Matthew 1:21
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Gabriel declared the meaning of the name Emmanuel – "God with us." One would be hard pressed to find a better way to describe the ministry of Christ on earth. God was with us in the form of his Son. As the Lord told his disciple Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Gabriel told Joseph, "They shall call his name Emmanuel" but "thou shalt call his name Jesus." Gabriel indicated the meaning of the name Jesus when he said, "He shall save his people from their sins." Jesus means "Jehovah is Salvation."

Matthew 1:24-25
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Before Gabriel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he first visited Mary. Gabriel told Mary that her son would be called Jesus and made no mention of the name Emmanuel.

Luke 1:30-33
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Luke 2:21
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The prophesy, "They shall call his name Emmanuel,” did not mean that God's Son would answer to that name. A quick search through other occurrences of this phrase shows that its meaning is not always literal.

Jeremiah 23:6
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Matthew 2:23
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

(It is interesting to note that the original message – "He shall be called a Nazarene" – is not recorded in the Bible. But as Gabriel proclaimed, this was said by the prophets and not written.)

The names ascribed to the Messiah in Isaiah 9 are many:

Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

But of course, all these names would not be written his birth certificate! At the risk of excess, here are more references that make the same point:

Proverbs 16:21
The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.

Proverbs 24:8
He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

All the names ascribed to Christ pertain to who he is and what he accomplished. Therefore to "believe on the name of his Son" is to believe on all he is and all he did for mankind.

1 John 3:23
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
And order all things, far and nigh;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And cause us in her ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Christians err when they "depersonalize" Christ and reduce him to a concept. Jesus is "the Wisdom from on high." He is the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 1:24
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

To walk in wisdom is NOT to reach a state of intellectual self-sufficiency. It it to be led by the "wisdom from on high" – the Great Shepherd.

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Jesse was the father of King David to whom God promised an everlasting throne. Jesus is "the rod of Jesse" who will rule and reign forever as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Isaiah 11:1-5
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

O, come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

It was Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who prophesied of Christ as "the dayspring from on high" who would visit his people. A dayspring is a sunrise.

Luke 1:76-79
76 And thou, child [John the Baptist], shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

The prophet Haggai spoke of Jesus as "the desire of all nations." Truly he is man's only real hope for peace.

Haggai 2:6-7
6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

It is true that many professing Christians think ill of the Christmas season. In the end, life is what a person makes of it. Christmas carols like the splendid "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" remind God's people of what the Lord accomplished in his first coming, and revive us to await his return.

Revelation 22:20-21
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel!


Presented November 27, 2016