In the Old Testament, it was said that “Emmanuel” would come and be a sign to the nations.
The word “Emmanuel” (or “Immanuel,” as it is also spelled) is often used in Christmas hymns and decorations.
But what does it mean?
The Hebrew name appears first in the book of the prophet Isaiah, where God speaks to king Ahaz of Judah and tells him to “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven” (Isaiah 7:11). Refusing to ask for a sign, God decides to give one anyway.
[T}he Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. (Isaiah 7:14-15)
This was believed by some to be one of the names of the Messiah, the savior who would redeem Israel.
The author of the book of Matthew believed that the words of Isaiah were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus Christ and further explains the meaning of the name.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23)
It is a highly symbolic name, one that refers to the reality that God is with us, visibly brought to fruition through the Incarnation of Jesus.