Jesus – God With Us
We are refreshing our section on First Principles, focusing on four overlapping types of material:
(a) “This is a faithful saying” articles that support true doctrines, the “true principles” of the gospel that we share in common.
(b) “Another gospel” articles that refute false doctrines that we have not received, that need to be rejected.
(c) “Let everyone be persuaded in their own mind” articles that identify and discuss interpretations that should not be treated as tests of fellowship. These “uncertain details” are not in our statement of faith; rather, they are personal opinions that we must be allowed to differ on without threat of separation. Those who insist that others agree with them on these matters have gone too far.
(d) “Be merciful to those who doubt” articles that provide a forum for those who might be wavering to safely raise the issues that concern them, that cause them to hesitate in their faith. We must discuss these issues in a non-threatening way. We must listen. We must hear where people are coming from. We must understand their uncertainties. We must avoid assuming bad motives. We must have empathy. We must be willing to be vulnerable with one another.
In all cases, articles will be based on solid scholarship. Straw man arguments are not allowed. Sources must be properly cited. For example, the first articles are on “Jesus – God with us”. They are primarily of type (a), because they determine the scriptural meaning of this phrase and then explain how it is applied in Matthew’s gospel. Of course, by doing so, they lay a solid foundation for refuting misunderstandings; whenever possible, this is a preferred pattern for dealing with wrested scriptures of type (b). We will see that this helps to explain why Matthew chose to describe the ministry of Jesus in the way he did: he was demonstrating that Jesus was indeed God with us.
Matthew1These articles expand on a talk I gave at the 30th Northern Gathering Family Day in Leeds, UK, on Monday, May 5, 2008. Overall theme: God is closer than you think! Topic assigned to me: “Jesus – God with us”. opens his gospel by connecting Jesus Christ to Abraham, David, and the return from exile in Babylon. Then he describes the virgin birth, the angel of the Lord saying to Joseph:
What does it mean to say His name is “God with us”? How does Jesus “save His people from their sins”? As we will see, these phrases are loaded with meaning and they are the fundamental theme for Matthew’s gospel.
God with His people
The idea of Yahweh being with His covenant people, and in particular, with His chosen leaders and those associated with them, is prevalent throughout the Old Testament. It is often linked to the blessings of God’s covenant promises, as illustrated by the following passages.2I have quoted a lot of passages for three reasons; first, because they are not easy to find using a concordance (essentially the only word they have in common is the preposition “with”); second, they form an important aspect of the gospel which is often overlooked; and third, many of them are especially relevant to our immediate topic of Jesus being God with us. I encourage you to highlight them in your Bible and to look for others as you do the readings (e.g., John 3:1-2; 8:29; 16:31-32; Acts 10:38; Rev 21:3-4).
Yahweh was with Abraham
“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed…Abimelech and Phichol… spake unto Abraham, saying, ‘God is with thee in all that thou doest.” (Gen 12:2-3; 21:22; see also, Gen 14:19; 22:17-18; 24:1, 35).
Yahweh was with Ishmael
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold I have blessed him… And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.” (Gen 17:20; 21:20).
Yahweh was with Isaac
“And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac… And the Lord appeared unto him, and said…Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father… And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake… And they [Abimelech, et al.] said, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee.” (Gen 25:11; 26:2, 3, 24, 28).
Yahweh was with Jacob
“And, behold, the Lord stood above it [the ladder between earth and heaven, v12], and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Gen 28:13-15; see also, Gen 31:3; 32:9, 12; 46:2-4).
The sons of Korah sang
Yahweh was with Joseph
Yahweh was with Moses
Yahweh was with Joshua as He was with Moses
Yahweh was with the children of Israel
Yahweh was with the judges
Yahweh was with Gideon
God himself is with us…
Yahweh was with Samuel
Yahweh was with Saul
Yahweh was with David and was departed from Saul
Yahweh was with Solomon and the congregation of Israel
At the dedication of the temple, Solomon
Yahweh was with Jeroboam
God was with Abijah and Judah
Yahweh was with King Asa
Yahweh was with Hezekiah and the kingdom of Judah
Yahweh was with Jeremiah
One writer explains that God being with someone is synonymous with God blessing them:
Another writer summarizes that Yahweh being with His people is akin to Yahweh being their God and they being His people, so that He might bless them in all things:
With these things in mind, we are now ready to return to Matthew’s gospel in our next article.
(Austin Leander, TX)