"His name shall be called Immanuel, . . . God with us." "The light of
the knowledge of the glory of God" is seen "in the face of Jesus
Christ." From the days of eternity the Lord Jesus Christ was one with
the Father; He was "the image of God," the image of His greatness and
majesty, "the outshining of His glory." It was to manifest this glory
that He came to our world. To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal
the light of God's love,--to be "God with us." Therefore it was
prophesied of Him, "His name shall be called Immanuel."
By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and
to angels. He was the Word of God,--God's thought made audible. In His
prayer for His disciples He says, "I have declared unto them Thy
name,"--"merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness
and truth,"--"that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them,
and I in them." But not alone for His earthborn children was this
revelation given. Our little world is the lesson book of the universe.
God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the
theme into which "angels desire to look," and it will be their study
throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will
find in the cross of Christ their science and their song. It will be
seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of
self-sacrificing love. In the light from Calvary it will be seen that
the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven;
that the love which "seeketh not her own" has its source in the heart of
God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of
Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.
In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It
was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the
earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the
flowers of the field. "His strength setteth fast the mountains." "The
sea is His, and He made it." Ps. 65:6; 95:5. It was He that filled the
earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth,
and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father's love.
Now sin has marred God's perfect work, yet that handwriting remains.
Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence. There
is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. No
bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but
ministers to some other life. There is no leaf of the forest, or lowly
blade of grass, but has its ministry. Every tree and shrub and leaf
pours forth that element of life without which neither man nor animal
could live; and man and animal, in turn, minister to the life of tree
and shrub and leaf. The flowers breathe fragrance and unfold their
beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a
thousand worlds. The ocean, itself the source of all our springs and
fountains, receives the streams from every land, but takes to give. The
mists ascending from its bosom fall in showers to water the earth, that
it may bring forth and bud.
The angels of glory find their joy in giving,--giving love and
tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and unholy. Heavenly beings
woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from the
courts above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human
spirit, to bring the lost into a fellowship with Christ which is even
closer than they themselves can know.
But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus.
Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. "I do
nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father hath sent Me, and I
live by the Father." "I seek not Mine own glory," but the glory of Him
that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth
the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All
things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly
courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son,
the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in
praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all.
And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete,
representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.
In heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking.
Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven. He sought
to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their
Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented
God, attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation. With his own
evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator. Thus he
deceived angels. Thus he deceived men. He led them to doubt the word of
God, and to distrust His goodness. Because God is a God of justice and
terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and
unforgiving. Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and
the night of woe settled down upon the world.
The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy
shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God,
Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by
force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's
government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be
commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love
awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested
in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all
the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love
of God could make it known. Upon the world's dark night the Sun of
Righteousness must rise, "with healing in His wings." Mal. 4:2.
The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan
formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of "the mystery
which hath been kept in silence through times eternal." Rom. 16:25, R.
V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have
been the foundation of God's throne. From the beginning, God and Christ
knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the
deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should
exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the
terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He
covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in
Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Lucifer had said, "I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . .
. I will be like the Most High." Isa. 14:13, 14. But Christ, "being in
the form of God, counted it not a thing to be grasped to be on an
equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,
being made in the likeness of men." Phil. 2:6, 7, R. V., margin.
This was a voluntary sacrifice. Jesus might have remained at the
Father's side. He might have retained the glory of heaven, and the
homage of the angels. But He chose to give back the scepter into the
Father's hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that
He might bring light to the benighted, and life to the perishing.
Nearly two thousand years ago, a voice of mysterious import was heard
in heaven, from the throne of God, "Lo, I come." "Sacrifice and offering
Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me. . . . Lo, I come
(in the volume of the Book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God."
Heb. 10:5-7. In these words is announced the fulfillment of the purpose
that had been hidden from eternal ages. Christ was about to visit our
world, and to become incarnate. He says, "A body hast Thou prepared Me."
Had He appeared with the glory that was His with the Father before the
world was, we could not have endured the light of His presence. That we
might behold it and not be destroyed, the manifestation of His glory was
shrouded. His divinity was veiled with humanity,--the invisible glory in
the visible human form.
This great purpose had been shadowed forth in types and symbols. The
burning bush, in which Christ appeared to Moses, revealed God. The
symbol chosen for the representation of the Deity was a lowly shrub,
that seemingly had no attractions. This enshrined the Infinite. The
all-merciful God shrouded His glory in a most humble type, that Moses
could look upon it and live. So in the pillar of cloud by day and the
pillar of fire by night, God communicated with Israel, revealing to men
His will, and imparting to them His grace. God's glory was subdued, and
His majesty veiled, that the weak vision of finite men might behold it.
So Christ was to come in "the body of our humiliation" (Phil. 3:21, R.
V.), "in the likeness of men." In the eyes of the world He possessed no
beauty that they should desire Him; yet He was the incarnate God, the
light of heaven and earth. His glory was veiled, His greatness and
majesty were hidden, that He might draw near to sorrowful, tempted men.
God commanded Moses for Israel, "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I
may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8), and He abode in the sanctuary, in the
midst of His people. Through all their weary wandering in the desert,
the symbol of His presence was with them. So Christ set up His
tabernacle in the midst of our human encampment. He pitched His tent by
the side of the tents of men, that He might dwell among us, and make us
familiar with His divine character and life. "The Word became flesh, and
tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only
Begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth." John 1:14, R. V.,
Since Jesus came to dwell with us, we know that God is acquainted
with our trials, and sympathizes with our griefs. Every son and daughter
of Adam may understand that our Creator is the friend of sinners. For in
every doctrine of grace, every promise of joy, every deed of love, every
divine attraction presented in the Saviour's life on earth, we see "God
Satan represents God's law of love as a law of selfishness. He
declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts. The fall of
our first parents, with all the woe that has resulted, he charges upon
the Creator, leading men to look upon God as the author of sin, and
suffering, and death. Jesus was to unveil this deception. As one of us
He was to give an example of obedience. For this He took upon Himself
our nature, and passed through our experiences. "In all things it
behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren." Heb. 2:17. If we had to
bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan
would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus
was "in all points tempted like as we are." Heb. 4:15. He endured every
trial to which we are subject. And He exercised in His own behalf no
power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and
overcame in the strength given Him from God. He says, "I delight to do
Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart." Ps. 40:8. As He
went about doing good, and healing all who were afflicted by Satan, He
made plain to men the character of God's law and the nature of His
service. His life testifies that it is possible for us also to obey the
law of God.
By His humanity, Christ touched humanity; by His divinity, He lays
hold upon the throne of God. As the Son of man, He gave us an example of
obedience; as the Son of God, He gives us power to obey. It was Christ
who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I Am That I Am.
. . . Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me
unto you." Ex. 3:14. This was the pledge of Israel's deliverance. So
when He came "in the likeness of men," He declared Himself the I Am. The
Child of Bethlehem, the meek and lowly Saviour, is God "manifest in the
flesh." 1 Tim. 3:16. And to us He says: "I Am the Good Shepherd." "I Am
the living Bread." "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." "All power
is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." John 10:11; 6:51; 14:6; Matt.
28:18. I Am the assurance of every promise. I Am; be not afraid. "God
with us" is the surety of our deliverance from sin, the assurance of our
power to obey the law of heaven.
In stooping to take upon Himself humanity, Christ revealed a
character the opposite of the character of Satan. But He stepped still
lower in the path of humiliation. "Being found in fashion as a man, He
humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross." Phil. 2:8. As the high priest laid aside his gorgeous pontifical
robes, and officiated in the white linen dress of the common priest, so
Christ took the form of a servant, and offered sacrifice, Himself the
priest, Himself the victim. "He was wounded for our transgressions, He
was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon
Him." Isa. 53:5.
Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He
deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that
we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He
suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which
was His. "With His stripes we are healed."
By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than
recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan's purpose to
bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we
become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking
our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is
never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. "God
so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son." John 3:16. He
gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave
Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace,
God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family,
forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will
fulfill His word. "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and
the government shall be upon His shoulder." God has adopted human nature
in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest
heaven. It is the "Son of man" who shares the throne of the universe. It
is the "Son of man" whose name shall be called, "Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isa. 9:6.
The I Am is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon
both. He who is "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," is
not ashamed to call us brethren. Heb. 7:26; 2:11. In Christ the family
of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified
is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is
enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love.
Of His people God says, "They shall be as the stones of a crown,
lifted up as an ensign upon His land. For how great is His goodness, and
how great is His beauty!" Zech. 9:16, 17. The exaltation of the redeemed
will be an eternal testimony to God's mercy. "In the ages to come," He
will "show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us
through Christ Jesus." "To the intent that . . . unto the principalities
and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known . . . the
manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He
purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. 2:7; 3:10, 11, R. V.
Through Christ's redeeming work the government of God stands
justified. The Omnipotent One is made known as the God of love. Satan's
charges are refuted, and his character unveiled. Rebellion can never
again arise. Sin can never again enter the universe. Through eternal
ages all are secure from apostasy. By love's self-sacrifice, the
inhabitants of earth and heaven are bound to their Creator in bonds of
The work of redemption will be complete. In the place where sin
abounded, God's grace much more abounds. The earth itself, the very
field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted.
Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His
glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the
universe of God. Here, where the Son of God tabernacled in humanity;
where the King of glory lived and suffered and died,--here, when He
shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, "and
He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself
shall be with them, and be their God." And through endless ages as the
redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His
Immanuel, "God with us."