Immanuel Changes Everything

The book of 1 Samuel records a great battle between the people of God, the Israelites, and one of their fiercest enemies, the Philistines. Israel lost 4,000 men on the battlefield in a single day. In the face of such crushing defeat, the elders of Israel called for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into the camp to rally the troops and boost morale.

First Samuel 4:5–7 reports, “As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting they said, ‘What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?’ And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, ‘A god has come into the camp.’ And they said, ‘Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.'”

God is alive and well and involved in the lives of His people.

The Ark of the Covenant was a visible sign of the holy presence of God. God didn’t live in that box, of course, but it was a reminder God was alive and well and involved in the lives of His people.

Because of this, when the Ark came into the camp, the Bible tells us the people of God celebrated so loudly the earth shook.

Talk about a celebration!

But what caused much rejoicing among the people of God caused much fear among their enemies.

The Philistines said three things we need to pay attention to:

  1. A god has come into the camp.
  2. Woe to us!
  3. Nothing like this has happened before.

Hold that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Fast-forward to the Christmas story recorded in the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke.


“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matt. 1:23).

Of course, this passage is talking about the birth of Jesus, but don’t miss one of the other names for Jesus—Immanuel. The prophets had foretold that people would refer to Him in this way all the way back in Isaiah 7:14:


“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

God wanted His people to know and to wait with expectation for the day He would dwell among them. Pause for a moment. Let your mind be blown.

  • God among us.
  • The God who created all things, among us.
  • The God who knows all things, among us.
  • The God who reigns. The God who rules. The God whose power knows no limits, among us.

Immanuel is a very big deal.

God left heaven and came to earth to be with us. To rescue us. But when He ascended into heaven, He did not leave us alone.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, we need to take a minute to hone in on Immanuel. God left heaven and came to earth to be with us. To rescue us. But when He ascended into heaven, He did not leave us alone.

In Matthew 28:20, Jesus said, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

No matter what, He remains “God with us.”

And if we’re telling the whole story, we see this radical reality still has the same effect on God’s enemies.

Remember what the Philistines said?

  1. A god has come into the camp.
  2. Woe to us!
  3. Nothing like this has happened before.

You better believe God’s enemy, Satan, is still singing that tune this Christmas.

  1. God is with them!
  2. Woe to me! Translation: I’m ruined.
  3. Nothing like this has ever happened before.

He came to be with us to save us from sin and death. He came to be with us because we so desperately need to be rescued.

You see, Christmas is about so much more than the Babe in the manger. He didn’t come to be with us so that we could look over the edge of His crib and ooh and ah. He came to be with us, to die for our sins . . . to rise from the grave . . . to deal a fatal blow to our shared enemy. He came to be with us to save us from sin and death. He came to be with us because we so desperately need to be rescued.

So celebrate that this Christmas. Celebrate so loudly that others notice. Take a cue from the people of Israel, and dance until the earth shakes. Because Immanuel changes everything.


“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matt. 1:23).

To examine other characters from the Christmas story, visits these posts by Erin Davis on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

Sinking Your Teeth into the Promises of God

The Original Grinch

What Should We Do for Jesus?

A Closer Look at Mary’s Dream Guy

The Bravest Sentence in the Bible

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