December 30th, 2020 – Wednesday Early Evening
“‘She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.'” ~Matthew 1:21-23
2020 has been a long and different kind of year, hasn’t it? Mind you, every year is different and long in its own way; what sets this year apart is the fact that we haven’t before really dealt with the kinds of things we did on a global scale in 2020. Also mind you, just because we are scheduled to cross into the New Year this week doesn’t mean that 2021 will be any less long and different than 2020. In fact, 2021 may be much, much worse from a human standpoint. Yet, I mention all of this for a reason: 2020, with all of its challenges, joys, and sorrows, has been another year filled with the reality of Immanuel and the great mercy and grace of God.
The short passage above gives an excellent perspective if we stop long enough to dwell on it. It is the end of what the angel communicated to Joseph in regards to his betrothed (and pregnant) wife and it is also an explanation of why all this was happening. In this section we notice a few things: 1. This is God’s plan; He executes His agenda and includes people in it for His glory and their good. 2. God is on a massive rescue mission to save His people; Jesus means “Jehovah is salvation”. 3. God’s deliverance is not halfway; it is not just a saving from the eternal consequences of sin that Jesus has come to accomplish, but also the saving from the power and sway of sin in the lives of His people. 4. God’s reiterated promise to His people is that He will never leave them or forsake them; this is seen with finality in Immanuel – God with us.
A question for myself and for you: Does God change? Over and over and over again (I know, I know, I have used that phrase before) throughout Scripture, the resounding, clear answer is “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” God is the same always and forever; He cannot change and His nature and character are immutable. That means, among other things, the four different observations/applications from our passage today still bear His full weight and sovereign authority.
Back to where we started… Every year that has transpired on planet Earth has been filled to overflowing with God’s goodness, mercy, grace, and the reality that He has revealed Himself to mankind. Since Christ came to earth that revelation has become complete in Immanuel, and since the cross the grace of God to save to the uttermost has been clear. 2020 has continued that trend and every year that follows until the return of Christ will too. The question for you and for me is will we choose to look back and look forward with His perspective or will we be mired in a foolish and destructive self-focus? Are you being saved (with totality) from your sin and are you experiencing the presence of God (Immanuel) in your moment-by-moment life?
Praise the Lord for 2020 and for the many, many ways we have seen His goodness and mercy this year! Thank You, Father, that You are already at work in 2021 and that we can trust you in every way and at all times!