Sunday, December 20, 2009

God-With-Us. Always!

The Word became a human being and lived here with us. John 1:14 CEV

Christmas is the celebration of God-With-Us. In ancient religious systems, the gods were localized to certain places or their spirits were confined to a territory or container such as a wooden idol or a stone shrine. When people traveled or emigrated, they worshiped specific gods in specific places, or they took their idols with them (Genesis 31). The gods were capricious, vindictive, killed each other in power struggles, cheated on their spouses, and accepted human sacrifices—even infants.

So when, on the exodus from Egypt, the God of Hosts traveled with the Israelites, that was remarkable! A first! Here was a God who was personal; involved; protective; nourishing; healing; compassionate; Who fought battles and resolved conflict; who designed and implemented holidays, festivals and rest days for the former slaves; and who cared so much for their comfort that He shaded them from desert sun by day and warmed and lit the night for them. Unlike the gods who wreaked vengeance upon any whim, this God demonstrated that He was a forgiving God. He promised a present and future of blessings if they remained in His tender care.

Generations later, when the children had rebelled and forgotten, God repeated His plan for reconciliation. To His people in war and exile of their own making, and subject to the “gods” of their exile, He spoke: “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-With-Us].” Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

Wherever God’s people were or are, He is God-With-Us. I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20 KJV) We can’t leave Him behind. He won’t abandon us when our closest companions do. And He’s not done with us in this short life span and at the end of this old world. He promises everlasting life to His children, and His presence continues forever!

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3 NIV

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