Subject: Joshua 1:9 to Matthew 1:23 – Evidence #2 for Christmas: Immanuel = Jesus Christ
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong, and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God IS WITH YOU wherever you go.” Matthew 1:23 “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name ‘Immanuel’, which is translated, ‘GOD WITH US.’”
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) is one of the most recognized names in the world, and is probably the most famous scientist who ever lived. Time Magazine highlighted him as the “Person of the Century” in 1999. What many people may not know about him was his pronouncement to the scientific community, after reviewing the scientific evidence from Hubble’s Telescope, that the universe was not static (which was the prevailing scientific theory at the time) but had a beginning, and therefore a Beginner, a “First Cause”.
So who did Einstein identify as this “First Cause” who created everything in the beginning from nothing? In 1942, he met with three theologians at his home to discuss his views of who God is (Dov Hertzen, an orthodox rabbi, Brian McNaughton, a Catholic priest, and Mark Hartman, a liberal Protestant theologian). Though he confessed to the rabbis and priests who came to congratulate him on his discovery of God that he was convinced God brought the universe into existence and was intelligent and creative, he denied that God was personal. The clergy had a valid challenge to Einstein’s denial: How can a Being who is intelligent and creative not also be personal?
But Einstein struggled with what he saw as an inconsistency in a Christian God who was all-powerful and all-good, but held people responsible for their choices: ‘If this being is omnipotent, then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishments and rewards He would to a certain extent be PASSING JUDGMENT ON HIMSELF. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?’ The clergy didn’t have an answer that satisfied him, and he didn’t look for the answer himself.
Einstein believed in a God who fit the description in Psalm 19, whose glory is revealed in a GENERAL sense, in the scientific evidence in the universe (“The heavens declare the glory of God…”). But Einstein did not believe this same God of creation could personally care for Him, and the clergy never pointed him to that same God who, in Joshua 1:9, promised to be personally with Him. God fulfilled that promise by revealing His glory in a SPECIFIC way, as John 1:14 says, by the Incarnation (the God of Joshua 1:9 comes to us and lives personally among us as IMMANUEL): “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”.
But why does this Creator God make Himself known to us personally? Charles Spurgeon provides the best answer – which is what Einstein needed to hear and understand, but never did: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us in the world that He might thereby make our peace, reconciling God to man and man to God… The Son of God is become the Son of Man, even flesh of our flesh and bone of our bones; and the sons of men are made the sons of God… My sin is His sin, and His righteousness is my righteousness. He who knew no sin, for my sake was made sin, and I having no good thing, am made the righteousness of God IN HIM (2Corinthians 5:21)”.
Spurgeon’s answer is actually the same answer Einstein challenged the clergy with, but he didn’t realize it. At the Incarnation, God comes to dwell with man as the God-man Jesus Christ. But at the Cross, God passed judgment on Himself when Jesus willingly took upon Himself the sins we all commit, offering His perfect life as the sacrifice to pay for our immorality, a punishment we deserved. Through this sacrifice God reveals both His justice (crimes deserve punishment) and His deep love for us (Christ takes your punishment for you), offering each of us His free gift of reconciliation back to Him. He promises not only to forgive us through Christ but also to NEVER LEAVE US. In John 14:23, Jesus Himself promises He will dwell within anyone who sincerely asks Him to be their Lord and Savior for their sins: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come and MAKE OUR HOME WITH HIM.”
Adam Brown, the Navy Seal from last week’s article, believed in what Einstein never understood. After his death, his father spoke to over two dozen of his Navy Seal buddies to make sure they understood that the key to eternal life is in Jesus Christ: “Adam would have wanted me to tell y’all that there is hope, and if you’d like to see him again someday, you just need to invite Jesus into your heart.” This is the glory of this and every Christmas season, that God has come to us – as Immanuel, Jesus Christ.