“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 1:23, NASB).

“Immanuel” is a Hebrew word meaning “God with us” and expresses the wonder of the Incarnation—that God “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). It appears only twice in the Old Testament (Isaiah 7:14; 8:8) and once in the New Testament (Matthew 1:23).

The significance of the title and its timing in the Old Testament was a promise God made to Judah through the prophet to deliver His people from the menacing threats of Rezin, king of Syria, and of Pekah, king of Israel.

In Matthew the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise is realized in the virgin-born Son of God who is named both Immanuel and Jesus. Jesus is “God with us” and the “God who saves” from more than physical threats—but from our sins.

This promise of God’s presence about His incarnation in the first chapter of Matthew is bookended with the promise of His abiding presence to be with the disciples in the Great Commission as recorded in the last chapter (Matthew 28:19, 20). This book-end theme of God’s presence opens and closes the whole biblical narrative as well. Because of sin the first couple was driven from God’s presence (Genesis 3:22–24). Jesus makes it possible for all believers to ultimately see God’s face when He dwells with us for all eternity (Revelation 21:3; 22:4).

There is a cemetery in London called Bunhill Fields. A number of famous people are buried there—John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress; Isaac Watts, the great hymnwriter; and Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe. Opposite the graveyard is the chapel of John Wesley and a monument erected to him. On the same property is John Wesley’s house, where on March 2, 1791, Wesley, lifting a feeble arm in as show of triumph, opened his eyes and exclaimed for the very last time, upon his deathbed, these words: “The best of all is this: God is with us.” God has promised to be with us in life, death, and for all eternity.