“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 (NRSV)
The Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ, all in one verse. The incarnation – God coming to live among His people. When we think of the Nativity, we usually think of night, of the baby being born and the angels appearing to the shepherds during the night. God has often come to His people in times of darkness, more often spiritual than physical.
While the Israelites were living in captivity in Babylon, Ezekiel prophesied an ark on wheels, letting the Israelites know that God would come and dwell among His people, even in darkest Babylon. Jewish scholars have a term for the presence or dwelling of God among His people – the Shekinah of God. It encompasses both the dwelling place of God, such as the Ark in the Tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem, and the presence of God in those places.
In the Old Testament, the “glory of God” is one of the ways that God makes His presence known. In Ezekiel 11:23, the prophet refers to the “glory of Yahweh” moving from Jerusalem and toward Babylon, so that He might dwell with them. It is this glory that Moses saw and that both Ezekiel and John wrote about. John 1:14 reflects this connection between God’s presence or dwelling (His Shekinah) and the glory of God.
As John proclaimed, God chose to “pitch His tent” among us, to dwell among us, in the midst of our darkness, and we know it, because in Jesus, we have seen the glory of God. Emmanuel. God with us.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
This ancient prophecy was given to Ahaz, king of Judah, while Jerusalem was surrounded by the armies of Aram and Israel, its ally, commanded by their bullying kings. The bad signals were overwhelming: these wicked men wanted to cause fear, divide and conquer the people of Judah. In the preceding verses, the prophet Isaiah delivered God’s message: “be careful, keep calm, do not be afraid and do not lose heart.” (Isaiah 7:4) Easier to say than to do, considering they were in huge danger.
God was so concerned about his people that he himself promised a sign of his presence: sending his own son, Immanuel, a name meaning “God with us.”
About eight hundred years later, the apostle Paul made a similar reflection in the book of Romans: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
During this Advent season, let us be reminded that God cares for us. He is not only aware of our troubles, limitations, shortcomings and illnesses but is also interested in our wellbeing, desires, future and success.
God is our hope, today and tomorrow!
By Daniel Zamora
Many of those who make or do something for others like to offer words of thankfulness, promise, affirmation, compromise, service and warranty to their customers.
In Isaiah 43: 1-3, the Creator of Earth and the entire universe has a very specific message for all of us: “Fear not… you are mine.” And it follows, “through the waters … through the rivers… through the fire.”
Were these last phrases taken from a recent news update? Actually not, these words were recorded by the prophet Isaiah around 2,700 years ago and since then, big common challenges for humanity have not changed much. The message continues “For I am the LORD, your God.” This is the endorsement that the Almighty makes to anything promised to us but, it does not end there. The LORD is not only our God but is also for us and with us, as expressed in the name Emmanuel, God with us.
During this Advent season, as we think and reflect on God’s statements and promises, let us claim them every day. Allow the Lord take to care of our fears and challenges or anything else that overwhelms and frightens our spirits and lives.