God With Us

This article was originally published with Convivium Magazine.

O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.

Through quiet towns, spoken words and silent thoughts, a single prayer moved through the heart of a nation. Come, Emmanuel. Ransom your captive Israel. Ransom mourning, exiled Israel.

A devastating thread of exile stirs through the Old Testament; God’s people being removed from Him and removed from each other. Adam and Eve exiled from the perfect garden and from perfect relationships – with God and with each other. In the times of the judges, the people would turn away from God, becoming like the pagan nations that surrounded them, forgetting that their worship was owed to Him and Him alone. And so they were exiled. And when the people returned to Him, cried out for Him to save them, He sent a judge to defeat their enemies and redeem them. Their history as a nation continued to unfold and as the era of kings rose and fell, the final exile began.

Four hundred years. Four hundred years of removal from being God’s nation. Four hundred years of removal from His voice. Four hundred years of removal from His presence. And in those 400 years, the people cried out. They waited, and in their hearts stirred the desire for the foretold one. The Messiah who would conquer exile once and for all, who would be Redeemer, not for one nation, but for all people. Who would redeem them, not for a season but for all time. And nearing the end of those four hundred years, something lingered.

Hope.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! Jesus arrived at a moment of history that had been pierced by exile. Shattered, and slowly limping back together, the nation of Israel was holding on by a thread. Influenced by Greece, occupied by Rome, Israel waited. Waited for the chosen one. Waited for their Messiah. Waited for their Christ. Waited for God to be with them. God with us. Emmanuel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go.

The wisdom of God thwarts the wisdom of man, and into the pain of exile He sent the most unlikely redeemer. A child. A child born to a mother of faith; of quiet faithfulness. A young woman with no experience, and no worldly wisdom to claim. But the Lord was with her.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! Rejoice in the wisdom of the Lord. Rejoice in the sovereignty of his plan. His promised an answer. He gave an answer. An answer His people never expected. A child. A child from humble beginnings. A child to live and breathe and walk among us. A child to be with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to your tribes on Sinai’s height in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe.

The nation of Israel waited in exile. Waited for their king. Waited for their redemption. Waited for the return of the Lord’s might – as He poured out His might to rescue them in ancient days. They waited for God to be present with them, to make His dwelling among them once again. To be the God who was with them. The God who is with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! The Lord sent His might. His beautiful, paradoxical might. Not in power but in authority. Not in human might but in the might that could conquer death, rescue from the grave, provide forgiveness for sin. Not in the way the people thought it would look, but in the way God foreknew from the beginning of time.

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem, unto your own and rescue them!

From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.

A child descended of brokenness, a child descended of redemption. Born into the tribe of Judah, Jesus, the stem of Jesse. The child that would grow a new tree from what had become a broken stump. A child to rescue His people – not from physical, temporary bondage, but spiritual, eternal bondage. A child who would end the exile, not of a nation, but of all mankind. A child who would end the exile, becoming the door through which we enter the presence of the Lord.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! A child comes to be with us. God come down as a child. A child with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home.

Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death’s abode.

A child descended of kings. A child of the house and line of David. David: the king who offered redemption to a nation for a time. Jesus: the King who offers redemption to all nations for all time. A child who would become the door through which we may enter heaven. A child who would stand between us and death. A child who held no worldly enchantment, yet was a king. Yet is the King.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! The King is here. Your King is here. Of humble beginnings, descended of prophecy and promise, the King is here. The King is with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar!

Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light.

Our King is here. Christmas morning we remember the moment that heaven met earth in a new way, in a never before seen way. Our King, our Bright and Morning Star has come. The Light that casts out all darkness, the Light who’s presence darkness cannot stand in.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice! Rejoice that your days of exile are over. The true Redeemer has broken onto the scene. Stand in awe, in the presence of a greatness that welcomes the weakest and the lowest, that sees the brokenness in each of us and forgives us. Rejoice that He welcomes us in. Rejoice that He is with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind. Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.

King of nations and Prince of peace. The King of all nations, the only one who can bring true and lasting peace. The King who came as a little baby, born into the humblest of circumstances, is the one who would redeem us all. The one incarnate in the womb of a virgin is the one who would be pierced and broken for our sins, and would rise victorious. The true King and the sacrificial lamb, the humble-strength marked King of the world.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel.

Rejoice, for you have been ransomed. Rejoice, for your exile is over. Rejoice, for the Christ-child has come. He is with us. God with us. Emmanuel.

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