Emmanuel. It’s a name familiar to many Christians. Another name for Jesus we often hear during the Christmas season. Emmanuel means “God with us”. “God is with us”. Did you catch that? The meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus which brought the ability for us to have the presence of God WITH us at all times and the message that he never left.
If you’re like me, this can become all too familiar. I often hear this term without taking in the impact of its meaning. I have been convicted this season with the realization that I treat the Christmas story as common knowledge. A story I have heard every year throughout my life. I realized it had lost its meaning. I began to pray for a new sense of awe and wonder this Christmas season. My prayer was answered this past Sunday at church when I learned about the 400 years of silence. There was a period of 400 years between the old and New Testaments in which God was seemingly silent. No one heard God speak for 400 years. For a people that had been led so intently by God, 400 years without hearing his voice, without sensing His tangible presence?! I can’t imagine anything more dark and hopeless.
In the midst of such perceived hopelessness and darkness, the light of the world came down from heaven to bring us hope. To bring God to us. Because of Jesus, we never have to endure the hopelessness that must have been felt from 400 years of silence. Because He came to give us the gift of the Holy Spirit, we NEVER have to be without Emmanuel, the presence of God with us. What hope that gives me! What a renewed sense of appreciation for the Christmas story.
To further increase the sense of awe and wonder I was praying for, the pastor gave an added perspective. During the 400 years of silence where the presence of God was seemingly absent, He was actually there all along. Roads were built, languages were unified, synagogues were built in each town, and the Israelites were no longer in Exile. He may not have been speaking, but He was moving and working, preparing the way for the birth of Jesus. Preparing the way for our salvation and for the gospel to be shared that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
Put it into Action: Sometimes it seems like God is absent in our lives, but don’t mistake silence for absence. If you go back and look at some of the difficult seasons of your life from a different perspective, you will probably find evidence of God working behind the scenes. The nature of God says “ I am ALWAYS with you”. Emmanuel means God is ALWAYS with us.
We encourage you this season to not only look at the Christmas story with a new perspective seeing the hope shining in the midst of such darkness, but to look at those dark moments of your life through that same lens.
Where can you see God working behind the scenes?
Where can you find His presence?
Where can you see the light and Hope in the middle of perceived darkness?
Emmanuel is more than just a man, because of Jesus it’s our hopeful reality. If you want to know more about the 400 years of silence and what God was doing...here is a great read! https://www.gracefulabandon.com/400-years-silence/