2 Chronicles 6:18
"But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built!"

Will God dwell with man? Isn't that the question of the ages? As we approach the celebration of the first Advent (God dwelling with man), it seems fitting to examine how God Himself answered Solomon's question.

We are blessed to have the completed Word of God through which to examine God's answer. In Isaiah 7, the LORD promised Ahaz that Syria and Israel would not conquer Judah and extended an offered to him "Ask a sign...let it be deep as Sheol or as high as heaven." (Isaiah 7:10) God told Ahaz to ask for anything as a sign that He would keep His promise. When Ahaz refused, the LORD promised His own sign, "The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." In Matthew 1:21, Joseph in a dream is told by an angel that Mary is carrying a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name is to be Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins." While saying this birth fulfills the promise of Isaiah 7, Matthew includes the meaning of Immanuel, which is "God with us."

Scripture's first promise of Immanuel is in Genesis 3:15. God's pronouncement of judgment on the serpent (Satan) has this veiled promise, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." The word "offspring" used in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) is also in Galatians 3:16, "Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, 'And to offsprings,' referring to many, but referring to one, 'And to your offspring,' who is Christ."

So, Genesis 3:15 through a cryptic prophecy points to Immanuel. Hebrews 2:14-15 adds to our understanding of the accomplishment of Immanuel. "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." 1 John 3:8 says simply, "The reason the Son of God (Immanuel) appeared was to destroy the works of the devil."

Another prophecy of Immanuel in Isaiah 9:6-7 provides a fuller description of the One who will fulfill the promise of Genesis 3:15. "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end." This child to be born of a virgin will be "Mighty God, Everlasting Father."

The answer to Solomon's question is definitely "Yes, God will dwell with man!" But for followers of Immanuel, His promise goes abundantly beyond what Solomon could ask or think. Jesus in John 14:16 promises "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." In Galatians 5:22 Paul goes on to say the Spirit of Immanuel in you will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

My prayer for you and your family as we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth, who is Himself each of the qualities produced by His Spirit, is, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" during this time of year.