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Monday, December 21, 2009

What's in a name?

Most of you know that Biblical names, particularly in the Old Testament, carried tremendous meaning. They were often indicators of personality, descriptors of the times or predictors of future events. For example, Isaac, was born to Abraham, the father of Israel, at an old age. Abraham means "father of nations." After God promised to give Abraham a son very late in life, he and his wife laughed at the thought. Isaac was subsequently given his name which means "laughter."

Isaiah the prophet carried a name that literally meant "Yahweh is our salvation." Isaiah's prophecies to the King of Judah were about this very thing...that God alone could save the nation from its enemies. His prophecies also bore witness to another significant name...Immanuel.

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 NIV

This name, more than any other in history, carries significant weight for all humanity. Immanuel literally means "God with us." More than just a great idea, it was the announcement of the most significant event in history. It was told to the people of Judah around 730 b.c. It was announced to shepherds on the hillside outside of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. It has been proclaimed for more than 2000 years since that day. It is the very reason for all the excitement and all the joy that permeates our homes this time of year (whether we choose to acknowledge it or not). It is this amazing reality...God is here!! Not distant, not removed, not out on the edge of the universe. And not dead or impersonal as in other religions. Our God is real and has chosen to make Himself known through His son Jesus. It is indeed, good tidings of great joy to ALL people. Immanuel!!

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